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Adele Marie Bielenberg, Educator
Miss Bielenberg demonstrated early in life her zeal and passion for children. Her leadership was recognized upon graduating from Pass Christian High School as valedictorian in 1924. Fulfilling her quest for knowledge, she enrolled at nearby Gulf Park College in Long Beach. Following her graduation in 1926 she pursued a teaching career which commenced her apostolate journey. She taught at Pineville and Hurley schools awaiting a position in Pass Christian Elementary School.
In 1929 she received her BS Degree from Mississippi Southern's State Teacher's College in Hattiesburg. She further attended graduate school courses at Tulane and Southern Mississippi. She was selected to serve as Principal of Pass Christian Elementary School in 1957 while continuing as fourth grade teacher. In that same year she was presented a Lifetime Certificate in the Mississippi Parent Teacher Association in recognition of her outstanding service to school and community.
Resuming a full schedule as fourth grade teacher, she organized the first registered Girl Scout troop in the Pass and remained its Leader for 14 years. Ignoring her impacted schedule, Miss Bielenberg's unending quest for excellence caused her to pursue a Master of Education Degree. She graduated in 1960 from Mississippi Southern College.
In 1970, she elected to retire after 43 years of educational performance which prompted the award of a plaque of appreciation by the Alumni Association.
However, retirement was not her form because she was immediately enlisted to serve as principal for St. Paul's Interparochial School when the nuns were withdrawn. On Community Service Day in April of 1976, a Redbud tree was planted in Memorial Park by the VFW and its Auxiliary honoring Miss Bielenberg at special ceremonies upon her soon to be completed six years at St. Paul. This occasion was followed up with a reception by the St. Paul Parishioners for Miss Bielenberg bestowing upon her a plaque in appreciation of her services to the children of the community. She was also given a gold watch by the P.T.O. of the school in commemorating her 49 years of dedicated educational leadership.
Concurrently, she was active with the Bicentennial Committee and in July 1976, a member of the Court of the Bicentennial Ball at St Paul's Gym. Continuing to maintain an active profile, Miss Bielenberg was busy visiting patients and residents of nursing homes and hospitals. Further, she kept in touch with shut-ins by phone. Having been a cancer patient herself, she volunteered with the American Cancer Association to visit other cancer victims in need of solace.
The Pass Christian Rotary Club and Chamber of Commerce recognized her contributions to the community by honoring her as the City's Outstanding Citizen for 1990 at a banquet at the Yacht Club. Living a good and proud life she has been active at St. Paul Catholic Church as a Eucharistic Minister and a member of the Altar Society. She served as Community service committee chairman for the local chapter of the AARP Chaplain for the Alpha Upsilon chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma. Junior Red Cross Chairman for ten years; President of the PTA; President of Pass Christian High School Alumni Association; active with the Garden Club; and maintains a photo history of places no longer in existence in the community.
She continued her personal interests in gardening and photography as well as perusing through her collections of photographs, costume jewelry and cut glass. On her daily walks with her dogs, Adele Bielenberg would reflect with an exuberance and a commanding challenge for positive, spiritual vitality.
Billy Bourdin relates a story of which, Miss Bielenberg told him. It was concerning another resident performing a missionary visit to Africa. Upon completing a group discussion, one of the audience stood up to ask where the lady hailed from.
She replied, "a little town on the southern coast of the United States called Pass Christian."
The inquisitor then asked, "Is Adele Bielenberg still teaching there?"
Day of Bereavement
Adele Bielenberg, retired teacher and resident of Pass Christian for over 96 years, died at St. Anna's residence home in New Orleans, Sunday, December 12, 2004.
Affectionately known as "Miss Pass Christian," Miss Bielenberg was born and raised in Pass Christian and was a foremost authority on the town's history. Her grandfather,
Frederick Bielenberg, a skilled cabinet maker and upholsterer, owned the first furniture store in the city. Her parents were Edward and Katie Baehr Bielenberg and het sister was Katherine Bielenberg Bacon.
Miss Bielenberg graduated from Pass Christian High School as valedictorian in 1924. She received a Bachelor of Science degree from Mississippi Southern Teachers' College and completed a master's degree from Tulane and USM in 1960. Miss Bielenberg began her teaching career at Pineville and Hurley, then later moved to Pass Christian Elementary School where she served as principal from 1957 to 1970. After 43 years of teaching, she retired and received recognition for her outstanding service to the school and community. Her retirement was short-lived, however, and she soon returned to work as principal of St. Paul lnterparochial school. Upon her second retirement, she was honored by the PTO for 49 years of dedicated educational leadership. In 1990, she received the Rotary International Outstanding Citizen award for Pass Christian.
Miss Bielenberg was known for her many years of devoted service as an educator and community activist. She organized the first registered Girl Scout troop in Pass Christian and was troop leader for fourteen years. As a cancer survivor, she volunteered with the American Cancer Society and visited newly diagnosed cancer patients. She was Junior Red Cross Chairman of West Harrison County for ten years and was a long-standing member of the Pass Christian Historical Society serving as an officer in the Society. She was also a member of the Pass Christian Garden Club and the Gulfport Chapter of the American Association of Retired Persons. She served as chaplain for the Alpha Epsilon Chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma. She also held membership in the Pass Christian Yacht Club, Mississippi Educational Association and Mississippi Zeta Chapter of the Alpha Delta Chapter of the Alpha Kappa, an honorary professional sorority. She was an active parishioner of St. Paul's Catholic Church where she served as a Eucharistic Minister. For many years, Miss Bielenberg faithfully visited the sick, shut-ins and residents of nursing homes.
Rita Lapara of New Orleans, Miss Bielenberg's first cousin and caregiver during her recent years of illness, described Miss Bielenberg as a very intelligent and active woman who loved spending time with children, her family, and her many friends. Mrs. Lapara said that Adele's independent and determined, yet warm and giving spirit will be missed by the many people whose lives she touched.
Miss Bielenberg is survived by first cousins, Mrs. Nicholas Lapara, Mrs Elbert Bostick, and Mrs. Joseph Pardue and a host of second and third cousins.