Editor’s note: This obituary has updated to correct that Ethel Migra moved to Evanston in 1980.
Ethel Migra, 92, was a dedicated educator who completed her Ph.D. in her 40s and was devoted to progressive ideas about education and humanistic values. She viewed teaching as a natural partnership with learning.
As supervisor of Elementary Education for Warren Public Schools in the late 1970s, Dr. Migra’s plan for desegregation and social studies curriculum drew criticism from the local Board of Education, resulting in a contract dispute that eventually went to the Supreme Court.
In his summary of the case, University of Missouri researcher David Achtenberg said about Ethel Migra, “She was a hero. She deserved better.”
Dr. Migra moved to Evanston and joined National Louis University (formerly National College of Education) in 1980 as Professor of Teacher Education. She developed field-based graduate teacher education programs in Chicago, Florida, Germany, England and Italy. Her office was on Isabella Avenue at the Evanston campus from 1980 through about 1994.
She always insisted that Evanston was the best place to raise a family and encouraged her daughter and son-in-law to move here in 1983; they remain active in the community.
After retirement in 1994, she continued as Adjunct Professor of Teacher Education at the Graduate School at St. Xavier University until she was 81 years old and had a devoted following of in-service teachers.
Ethel was a lifelong journal keeper and voracious reader. She was enthralled by politics and current events, and read everything from The New Yorker and The Sun to People and Us magazines. She had a lifelong dedication to progressive politics and tracking current events. She had frequent long talks with her son-in-law Charlie about the deteriorating state of the world.
Born in Elyria, Ohio, the daughter of Sula O. Kerley and Hazel (nee Carnahan), Ethel was raised on a farm and enjoyed writing, blogging, cooking and entertaining.
After she retired, Ethel moved to the Rockford area. She returned to Evanston in early 2020 where she lived her last few years at the Dobson Plaza Nursing Home, 120 Dodge Ave. The family is very grateful for the wonderful, compassionate care she received at Dobson Plaza.
A devoted mother, grandmother and great-grandmother, she will be deeply missed by her three daughters, Jerri-Anne Garl (Charles Smith), Patricia Garl and Sara Garl; her five grandchildren, Wren Garl Smith (Jessica Kinyon), Emma Garl Smith (David Javier Thompson), Hannah Garl Cobb, and Olivia Garl; and two great grandchildren, Jack Kinyon Smith and Margaux Kinyon Smith, as well as extended family and many dear friends.
A celebration of her life will be planned in the coming months. Friends can send condolences to Haben Funeral Home, 8057 Niles Center Road, Skokie.