She was always the one with the smile; that is how students and staff of Calvert Elementary School remember Carol Keefe.
Keefe, 62, of Tiffin, was a teacher at Calvert Catholic Schools for 31 years. She died Dec. 30, 2012. Keefe taught sixth-grade religion, social studies and language arts.
Her funeral service was Jan. 3, but students and staff held a small service for Keefe Thursday, remembering all the good and lively things about her.
"She was always happy and smiling and loved being at the school," Principal Todd Fox said.
"For the 30 some years she was a teacher, she was talented in adapting to each individual student and reaching their needs and also closely bonding with the students," Fox said. "(Thursday) was a quiet and somber day without her, but it was comforting knowing that we were all together and we could lean on one another."
Students remembered Keefe by placing notes on an Angel Tree remembering their favorite memories of her and how, as a teacher and person, she impacted them.
One student wrote, "I love you and believe that you are the most thoughtful person I knew. I will miss her smile and laugh."
Another wrote that she was "such a big-hearted, loving person!"
School secretary Darlene Shook worked with Keefe for 26 years and remembers her as being everybody's friend.
"She always had a smile and always had a shoulder and was there for everyone," Shook said. "The time that I will miss the most is the morning when she would come into the office and give me a hug, kiss me on the cheek and wish me a good day, that is the hardest to get over."
"The kids always say she was the teacher with the smile. Even people who did not know her knew her by her smile," Shook said.
Keefe was born May 7, 1950, to Aloysius and Alma Niese. She married her husband John Keefe July 6, 1974, at St. Anthony Catholic Church, Columbus Grove, and he survives in Tiffin.
According to Keefe's obituary, other survivors include a son, Matthew (Rae) Keefe of Delaware; two daughters, Angela Fiore of Columbus and Michelle (Chad) Collins of Tiffin; two grandchildren, Emma and Luke Collins; one brother, Paul (Midge) Niese of Columbus Grove; and two sisters, Barb Decker of Elida and Pauline DeVita of Columbus Grove. Keefe was preceded in death by her parents and an infant sister, Mary Niese.
Keefe graduated from Lima Bath High School in 1968 and from Mary Manse College in 1972. She taught at St. Gerard's Catholic School in Lima for two years.
Her obituary stated she was a member of St. Mary Catholic Church, Tiffin, where she was a lector and communion distributor. She also was a Confraternity of Christian Doctrine teacher for many years.
Teacher Marsha Marinis began teaching with Keefe at St. Mary's in 1974.
"She was very giving, kind and caring and was always concerned for others," Marinis said. "I feel blessed that I got to spend time and be a friend to her. I was lucky to know her."
Her loves were God, family, friends and teaching. Her grandchildren were the highlight of her life. She also enjoyed reading, trips to the family farm and being surrounded by her family, according to her obituary.
"She gave everything she could to the classroom, students and her family," Shook said, "She was a dear person, she is going to be missed so much."
"I believe I am a better person for knowing her," Marinis said.