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Obituaries

Louise Schofield, 92; teacher and inspiration

LOUISE SCHOFIELD

LOUISE SCHOFIELD

Louise V. Schofield was 9 when her mother died and she went with a younger sister to live with their father on a 150-acre tree farm he managed in Burriville, R.I.

On that farm, “she was schooled by her father in the principles of pugnacious Americanism’’ and “imbued with the love for the environment,’’ said her daughter, Frances, of Brewster.

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She used those principles to become a beloved schoolteacher who fought for those without a voice and for environmental and civic causes.

“My mother often recalled standing on tree stumps as a young girl and being tutored in speechmaking by her dad,’’ Frances said.

Mrs. Schofield, who taught mathematics in high school and junior high classrooms in Quincy for nearly four decades, died Dec. 8 of complications from Alzheimer’s disease at Liberty Commons Nursing Home in Chatham, where she had been living.

She was 92 and had lived in Braintree for almost 40 years.

As an educator, Mrs. Schofield was a role model to other teachers and an inspiration to students, some of whom went on to become teachers.

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“She was my mentor and friend for 50 years,’’ said teacher Susan Reilly of Braintree. “In the classroom, she was a model of patience, tolerance, persistence, discipline, and expertise, teaching algebra to ninth-graders for over 30 years.”

Reilly said students respected and admired Mrs. Schofield, although not without testing her.

“They tried to challenge her authority and got other class members to join them in simultaneously dropping their pencils at 2:10 p.m.,” Reilly said. “Louise turned slowly from the blackboard, smirked and said, ‘Can’t you do any better than that?’ Then, she turned back to the board. They knew she couldn’t be ruffled and that was the end to the challenge of her authority.”

James P. McGuire, principal at Quincy Point Webster Middle School, which he had attended as a student, said Mrs. Schofield had inspired him to become a teacher when he was her student in the 1960s and the school was known as Quincy Point Junior High School.

“She was the caring and giving teacher who worked incredibly hard to give her students the gift of a love for math,’’ he said. “She encouraged her students’ success and truly cared about their work ethic and progress and created a deep interest in the subject matter.’’

He recalled a quirk of hers that everyone found endearing.

“Mrs. Schofield had a very cute and memorable high-pitched sneeze that her students looked forward to hearing because it made us so aware of the human side of her that we all loved.”

McGuire said he ran into her six or seven years ago at an outing on Georges Island.

“I was not surprised when she recognized me, remembered my name and the names of my classmates.’’

Richard DeCristofaro, Quincy’s superintendent of schools, was in Mrs. Schofield’s ninth-grade algebra class at Quincy Point Junior High.

“Louise was one of those teachers you never forget,’’ he said. “As a teacher, she was ahead of her time. When she taught math, she made it relevant to the way we lived, connecting it to our neighbood stores.’’

Paul J. Phillips of Quincy, past president of the Quincy Education Association, recalled that Mrs. Schofield was the math teacher at Quincy Point Junior High when he started teaching there.

“I soon learned that she was the definition of ‘tough teacher,’ ’’ he said, “which actually means she cared deeply for those kids, often from hardscrabble backgrounds. She was also unflappable, and [students] soon learned that you couldn’t put much over on Mrs. Schofield.”

He said Mrs. Schofield’s ideals came through strongly in her ardent support for the teachers union, the Quincy Teachers Association.

“She believed utterly in the union and was fearless about stating her beliefs to the principal, the superintendent. or anyone else,” he said. “She was as tough on them as she was on the most recalcitrant kid. She was a strong woman before strong women were cool. She was a tough teacher, and she taught me how much that is a good thing.’’

Mrs. Schofield was not only active in the Quincy Teachers Association, her daughter said, but worked on behalf of Democratic political candidates at all levels.

Mrs. Schofield was born Louise Vock in Stamford, Conn. to Edward D. and Eva (Mincks) Vock.

After her mother’s death from pneumonia, her father took her and her younger sister to live on the Burriville, R.I. tree farm.

“Their father was one of the first recognized conservationists in Rhode Island,’’ Frances said.

Louise graduated from Burriville High School in 1938 and was awarded a full scholarship to Rhode Island College of Education, graduating in 1942.

She left her teaching job in Quincy at the outbreak of World War II, her daughter said, to work as a “Rosie the Riveter’’ at Fore River Shipyard in Quincy.

Her husband, Arden Schofield, was a war hero. Captured as a prisoner of war by the Germans during the Battle of the Bulge, he weighed 80 pounds and was near death when he was rescued by the troops of General George S. Patton.

He was also a well-known pianist. After the war, he returned to Boston University and earned his master’s degree in music.

He met Louise Vock at a USO dance in Quincy, and they married in 1947. Both taught high school in Alexandria, Va., for a while before returning to Massachusetts and settling in Braintree. He taught English for many years at South Junior High School in Braintree.

As the couple aged, they moved into Liberty Commons Rehabilitation & Skilled Care Center in Chatham, where Mr. Schofield entertained many with his piano playing. He died last year.

Mrs. Schofield, who retired 28 years ago, remained active until the onset of her illness about a decade ago and for many years joined Paul Twohig, past president of the North Braintree Civic Association, fighting battles to improve the lives of others, such as persuading the government to clean up a toxic waste site or preventing commercial development in a residential neighborhood.

In addition to her daughter, Mrs. Schofield leaves two grandsons.

A service has been held. As mourners entered the funeral home, they could hear the piano music of Mr. Schofield on a CD including, Frances said, her parents’ favorite song, “You’ll Never Walk Alone.’’

Gloria Negri can be reached at negri@globe.com.

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