Ruby Smith Marshall was known at William Allen Middle School in Moorestown as the leaf book lady, said a daughter, Robbin Williams.
At the beginning of each school year, her students would have to go out and get leaves on field trips to nearby Strawbridge Lake Park or down in the Pine Barrens.
They would then arrange and identify their findings in booklets, as part of the Leaf Book Project, for Mrs. Marshall's life science classes.
"Many of her students credited her for their accomplishments" in later life, her daughter said, some of them developing careers in sciences themselves.
On Tuesday, March 17, Mrs. Marshall, 76, of Moorestown, a public school teacher there from 1971 to her retirement in 2004, died at Kennedy University Hospital in Cherry Hill following a heart attack.
On Thursday, March 26, she was honored in a joint resolution of the New Jersey Senate and General Assembly.
Born in Birmingham, Ala., Mrs. Marshall graduated from Ocean City High School in 1957 and earned a bachelor's in biology and comprehensive sciences at Wilberforce University in Ohio in 1961.
She began her teaching career working with third graders at the former Samuel Miller School in Mount Holly from 1961 to 1964.
Mrs. Marshall earned her elementary education certificate at Rowan University in 1965, then taught third graders at the Parkway School in Mount Laurel from 1966 to 1970, before beginning her Moorestown career.
In 1983, while still teaching, she earned a master's in educational theory and supervision at Rutgers-Camden.
Each summer between 1982 and 1991, her daughter said, she taught biology and chemistry to incoming freshmen there.
Barbara Gary, who taught social studies at William Allen from 1971 to 2011, recalled that Mrs. Marshall opened her home to her and another new Moorestown teacher in the summer of 1971.
"I had just graduated from college" in North Carolina, Gary said, and "I didn't know anyone" in South Jersey.
"From late August to the beginning of October," when they found accommodations, the two new teachers were members of the Marshall household, like "one of their family."
"She was my mentor," Gary said. "She was an incredible teacher."
In 1974, Mrs. Marshall was baptized as a Jehovah's Witness at Kingdom Hall in Moorestown.
As an alumna of Wilberforce University, she earned its Distinguished Service Award in 2001 and was inducted into the Alumni Hall of Fame in 2009.
She was a member of the South Jersey chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority.
Besides her daughter, Mrs. Marshall is survived by her husband of 54 years, Oliver; stepmother Nettie Henry; daughter Carol Douglas; four brothers; two sisters; and two grandsons.
A viewing is set for 8 to 10 a.m. Saturday, March 28, at the Aloft Hotel, 558 Fellowship Rd., Mount Laurel. Following is a tribute ceremony from 10 to 11 a.m. and an 11:30 a.m. funeral service there.
Donations may be sent in her name to www.wilberforce.edu.
Condolences may be offered to the family at www.mayfuneralhomes.com.