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Love of teaching spilled over to all facets of life

Stephen Huba
| Wednesday, Aug. 9, 2017, 11:00 p.m.

Pearljean Sanders was a teacher to her students nine months out of the year but to her family all year long.

“I loved being the daughter of a school teacher, because I loved school and I got to do all the extra stuff,” said daughter Jenifer Renshaw of Atlanta. “I helped her decorate her classroom. All summer when we traveled, we would gather stuff that she would then use in the classroom.”

Renshaw remembers family vacations to the American Southwest when Mrs. Sanders oversaw the collecting of slides, photos, maps and other materials.

“We brought back petrified wood for her classroom, Navajo jewelry, all kinds of examples of Native American life that she used in her classroom,” she said.

Pearljean C. Sanders of Salem Township died Monday, Aug. 7, 2017, at Hempfield Manor. She was 88.

Born in Somerset on Oct. 21, 1928, she was a daughter of the late Thomas and Anna (Bear) Chalmers. After having her second daughter, she went back to school at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and began a 30-year teaching career.

“She had always wanted to be an educator,” Renshaw said. “She was a career woman at a time when that wasn't particularly popular.”

Mrs. Sanders was a first-grade teacher at the Franklin Regional School District before moving on to the higher elementary grades. By the time she retired in 1999, she was teaching sixth-grade science and language arts.

Renshaw said she briefly had her mother as a teacher when Greensburg Salem teachers went on strike.

“I just happened to be in first grade at the time,” she said. “It was spectacular.”

Mrs. Sanders, whom her friends called “PJ” and who signed her name “Pj,” continued teaching even after retirement.

“She really was a lifelong educator,” said her son-in-law, Kevin Renshaw.

She taught classes for the AARP's 55 Alive program, a driver safety course for people 55 and older. She also volunteered for Parents Anonymous of Pennsylvania, taking calls from parents facing crisis situations, and as an ombudsman for elderly people living in nursing homes, he said.

Mrs. Sanders was preceded in death by her husband, James H. Sanders.

She is survived by two daughters, Susan Sanders-Watt and her husband, Larry, of Salem Township, and Jenifer Renshaw and her husband, Kevin, of Atlanta; five grandchildren; and a great-granddaughter.

Friends will be received from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday at Bash-Nied Funeral Home, 152 Abbe Place, Delmont, where services will be held at 11 a.m. Friday.

Memorials may be made to Westminster Presbyterian Church, 1120 Harvey Ave., Greensburg, PA 15601.

Stephen Huba is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-1280, shuba@tribweb.com or via Twitter @shuba_trib.

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