Mary (Kenward) Lohr '43

Mary (Kenward) Lohr received her degree in English in 1943. While at Hiram she was a member of Sigma Mu Sigma, Y.W.C.A., and the Women's Athletic Club. She also served as Bowler Dorm chairman, class officer, and worked as a library aide.

Following her graduation from Hiram, Mary obtained her Master's Degree in Library Science from Case Western Reserve University. Mary left library work, prompted by the special needs of her own mentally challenged son, to prepare for a career that would span 30 years of meeting the needs of special-needs children.

It was Mary's initiative that led to the building of the first facility of the Happy Days School in Ravenna, Ohio, in 1953. The money for the facility was raised through a county-wide effort. Mary Lohr said in 1978 interview with the Hiram College Broadcaster, “I was so determined to have a new building that I helped dig the footers and lay tile.” When the school opened in 1955, very little work had been done in the teaching profession to deal with the needs of the mentally challenged and developmentally disabled. Mary and her fellow teacher had to make their own way in figuring out how to best meet the needs of the 22 students that first attended Happy Days.
 
Mrs. Lohr became the Administrator of the school in 1960 and Principal in 1974. She served in that capacity until 1981 when she retired. During that time, Mary's efforts, along with the efforts of others associated with the school, saw it grow into a comprehensive facility with a greenhouse, wood shop, bedroom, living room, and kitchen where students learn skills of everyday living and a student-run snack bar where students develop skills of food preparation and money management. Mary's goals for her students included their being able to be employed in the community and functioning semi-independently.
 
To this end, the adult education department of Happy Days organized an experimental group home in the Ravenna community.
 

Throughout Mary's association with Happy Days she has remained close to the students through participation in program development and her continued presence in the classroom. Upon her retirement in 1981 in an editorial tribute, the Ravenna Record Courier stated “Few can match the dedication and devotion which have been the hallmark of Mrs. Lohr's 30 year association with the school for the mentally retarded.”

In 1984, Mary was again honored when the Happy Days dedicated the Mary G. Lohr Therapeutic Play Center. The center was designed with play equipment constructed to meet the needs of special children.

In addition to her work with Happy Days School, Mary has been active in a number of professional organizations including the Ohio Association for Retarded Citizens, the Council for the Retarded of Portage County, the Citizens Local Committee for Residential Services, the Ohio Education Association, the Northeast Ohio Education Association, and the National Education Association. Mary has also served as a Girl Scout leader, including one year as Girl Scout Commissioner of Ravenna and she has served on the Governor's Task Force for Rehabilitation Services.

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