Marge S. Dauber, 99, activist, teacher

Marge Scardino Dauber
Marge Scardino Dauber
Posted: April 17, 2012

Marge Scardino Dauber, 99, formerly of Elkins Park, a community activist and teacher, died of cerebral atherosclerosis Thursday, March 29, at the Hebrew Home of Greater Washington in Rockville, Md.

In 1954, Mrs. Dauber, her husband, and their young daughter moved to Lynnewood Gardens, then a new apartment complex in Elkins Park in Cheltenham Township. She organized a nursery school co-op and a babysitting club, circulated a petition to have a swimming pool built, and helped form a tenants' committee at the 1,800-unit complex.

In the 1980s, Mrs. Dauber helped defeat an effort to turn the rental complex into condominiums that would have displaced many tenants who couldn't afford to buy units, her daughter, Risa Sandler, said.

In the 1990s, Mrs. Dauber led protests to require the owners to make repairs and improvements to the complex. She was a resident of Lynnewood Gardens for 50 years until moving to Lafayette Redeemer, a retirement community in Northeast Philadelphia, in 2004.

After she and her husband, Phillip, divorced, Mrs. Dauber had a variety of jobs, including working in Cheltenham Township school libraries and selling encyclopedias, while earning a bachelor's degree from Temple University.

She graduated in 1966, and then taught first grade at the John F. McCloskey School in Mount Airy until 1983. After retiring, she was a substitute teacher for four years.

When she was in her 90s, she was treated by a doctor who remembered her as the teacher who had found him a pair of left-handed scissors when he was struggling to cut paper, her daughter said.

A longtime union activist, Mrs. Dauber was arrested for picket violations during strikes by the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers in 1970 and '73. She later served on the executive board of the federation's retirement chapter.

As a young woman in the 1940s, she was an organizer for several unions and recruited members for the Textile Workers Union, now the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union, on a weekly radio program broadcast on WCAM in Camden.

For more than 40 years, Mrs. Dauber was a Democratic committeeperson in Cheltenham Township. In 1991, the Cheltenham Township Democratic Committee named her distinguished committeeperson of the year for "crusading relentlessly for the downtrodden, the environment, peace, and social justice." In 2002, she received a certificate of special congressional recognition from then-U.S. Rep. Joseph M. Hoeffel III (D., Pa.) in "recognition of outstanding and invaluable service to the community."

Born in Venafro, Italy, Mrs. Dauber came to the United States with her family when she was 2 and grew up in South Philadelphia. At 15 or 16, she went to work in a knitting mill and attended Central Evening High School and Banks Business College in Philadelphia at night. In the 1930s, she taught English and citizenship to immigrants for the Works Progress Administration.

She never forgot her roots, her daughter said, and when she retired from teaching, she studied Italian at the University of Florence.

Mrs. Dauber is survived by her daughter and two grandchildren. She was predeceased by her former husband.

A celebration of life will be held at a later date.

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