By Karen Andrew
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Zara T. Burkey, a retired teacher who earned national honors for curriculum development in the 1960s, died Tuesday. Mrs. Burkey, formerly of Pleasant Ridge, died at Twin Towers Retirement Community in College Hill. She was 94.
During her career, Mrs. Burkey taught social studies and world geography at Shroder Junior High, a Cincinnati Public School in Kennedy Heights. She later served on curriculum development and textbook committees, and University of Cincinnati student teachers were assigned to her for practice classroom experience.
She was recognized by the Cincinnati Board of Education for her innovative teaching methods. One of her projects was to bring Shroder students together with Walnut Hills students to exchange information and research they did on foreign countries and their problems.
In 1968, she was nationally recognized by the Joint Council on Economic Education for developing a unit on economics that was published in state and national journals.
Mrs. Burkey retired in 1973.
"She was a very busy person, very caring and thoughtful," said her daughter, Gretchen Erb of Martinez, Ga. "She had a very good life, an exciting and adventuresome life."
Born in 1908 in Oak Harbor, Ohio, she attended Ohio Wesleyan University, Delaware, Ohio, where she met her future husband, Roland Burkey. After their sophomore year, they transferred to Ohio State and graduated in 1930.
She earned a bachelor's degree in education and later took post-graduate courses at University of Cincinnati while teaching.
After they were married in 1932, the couple moved to Cincinnati where Mr. Burkey later became a research chemist and professor at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine.
During retirement, the Burkeys traveled to the Far East, Africa, South America and Europe via freighter and found this mode of travel to be luxurious, exciting and adventurous.
The Burkeys were active volunteers at the Cincinnati Zoo. Every Sunday for 17 years, they worked in the zoo's gift shop. Their names can be found on the gift shop wall because they were two of the first volunteers.
"She had lots of fun with her volunteer work," Erb said. "She was very artistic and from their travels she brought back stones and made jewelry."
The Burkeys also served as educational tour guides for the zoo for more than 20 years. When they retired from the program in 1993, they were honored by the zoo with five-diamond pins for accumulating more than 2,500 volunteer hours.
After they retired from the zoo, the Burkeys volunteered at Twin Towers where they had been living since 1991. Their efforts included delivering the weekly resident newsletter and mail to the Twin Towers' Health Center residents.
She was a 45-year member of the Pleasant Ridge Methodist Church.
Mrs. Burkey was preceded in death by her husband in 2000.
In addition to her daughter, survivors include a son, William of Phoenix; three grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held Thursday in the Wilson Chapel of Twin Towers, 5343 Hamilton Avenue, College Hill.
Memorials: Twin Towers Benevolent Fund, 5343 Hamilton Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45224.
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