It was heartbreaking this morning to read of the passing of MaryAnn St. Clair, a longtime teacher, coach, and - as wife of Hannibal Pirate head football coach Mark St. Clair - “football mom” to years and years of former players. I had the privilege of being in Mrs. St. Clair’s class twice when I was in high school. No, I did not flunk. She was my ninth grade Social Studies teacher, and she also taught Psychology, which I took my junior year.

As a student, I was fortunate in that I never really had any problems with my teachers. I can get along with just about everyone. But MaryAnn St. Clair was one of the standouts from my time at Hannibal High School. She was one of the nicest people I've ever met, always smiling, and always kidding around with us. I remember her classroom as a place that we actually looked forward to going, and I remember how much we laughed and how much fun we had.

We also learned a lot, too. In ninth grade I learned what the official currency of Poland is. Something happened around this lesson that I found hilariously funny. I don't even recall what it was that was funny, but I remember laughing almost to the point of tears. A few years later, Mrs. St. Clair, remembering this incident, told me that I would probably never forget the currency of Poland. Here I am, 34 years old, and I still remember that the official currency of Poland is the Zloty (as of this writing, worth 0.27 U.S. Dollars). One of our radio station interns, T.C. Pierceall, is also a former student of Mrs. St. Clair. He said that he learned more from her psychology class than he did in any of his other classes, that year.

After high school, I would run into MaryAnn St. Clair every once in a while, at football games, in town, at the Folklife Festival, wherever. It was a delight to see her each time. We would always stop to chat, and we usually end up laughing about something. She was one of those uplifting people that always left you smiling.

I recall the last time I spoke with her. A few months ago I happened to make a visit to she and her husband’s church. It was the first time I'd seen her since she became ill, and I was unsure exactly what to say. It turned out that I didn't have to say anything profound, or anything particularly special. We talked just enough about her battle with cancer to avoid avoiding the issue, and then we moved on and talked about the same chit-chat stuff we would always talk about. She had her usual great big smile, and was more upbeat than I was! Her positive attitude was incredible. As always, it ended with a laugh, a smile, and a hug.

Matt Schuckman, Sports Editor at the Herald-Whig, wrote a beautiful tribute to MaryAnn that I would encourage everyone to read. Facebook feeds are also filled with memories from former co-workers, students, and friends. I hope that it is comforting to Coach St. Clair and his family that so many of us in the community held her in such high regard.