Edith Henderson Dawson Davis, 92, who taught at Abington Friends School for more than 35 years, died of pneumonia May 26 at Rydal Park, a retirement community in Media. She used to live in Hatboro.
Mrs. Davis began teaching the prekindergarten class at Abington Friends in the late 1940s. She also taught kindergarten and first grade.
Her daughter Nancy Dawson remembered stories about her mother's teaching methods. "She taught a socially distractible first grader to read by assigning him the task of writing a lower-school newsletter. It worked so well that the newsletter continued for the whole year," Dawson said.
Another child was so preoccupied with his mother's difficult pregnancy, Dawson said, that Mrs. Davis worked the mother into the curriculum, teaching biology, measurement, and the calendar.
Mrs. Davis retired in 1983. Fourteen years later, she reminisced about the morning ritual in her first-grade classroom for the school's 300th-anniversary book. "Soon all is quiet as everyone, the teacher included, sits closely on the rug. This is the real beginning of the school day - a spiritual centering down in preparation for the work of the day."
Mrs. Davis regularly attended Lenape Chamber Ensemble concerts and often helped with post-concert socials. For more than 10 years she served on the board of the Modern Club of Philadelphia, which maintains Sweetbriar mansion in Fairmount Park. Mrs. Davis supplied wreaths for mansion windows at Christmas and planted a historically appropriate garden.
After graduating from Germantown High School, Mrs. Davis was an assistant to a child psychologist at Temple University.
In 1939, she married Robert Dawson, an industrial designer. He built a passive solar house in Huntingdon Valley, where the couple raised three daughters.
Mrs. Davis' first husband died in 1987, and the following year she married her childhood sweetheart, George Davis. They spent time sailing on the Delaware and traveling to South Africa, Brazil, England, Hawaii, and California before his death in 2003.
In addition to her daughter Nancy, Mrs. Davis is survived by daughters Bonnie Schorsch and Shelley Taylor; stepsons Mark and Paul Davis; stepdaughters Marie Diehl and Ann Mohr; eight grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.
A memorial service will be at 2 p.m. Saturday at Abington Friends Meetinghouse, 520 Meetinghouse Rd., Jenkintown.