Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Epilogue | Joanne Cogar

Tough English teacher Joanne Cogar pushed students to do their best

ST. PETERSBURG — Joanne Cogar, a career high school English and drama teacher, had exacting tastes and strong opinions.

An assertive — some would say intimidating — expert on American literature, she pushed her students to read Edgar Allan Poe, William Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway and Nathaniel Hawthorne and come up with specific and original insights.

Mrs. Cogar, who died Sept. 1 at 80, started her teaching career by default and taught 23 years at Boca Ciega and Lakewood high schools. She liked a glass of scotch, a long Pall Mall cigarette and a good book, and took her reading to bed with her by 8 p.m.

"Although the color came from a bottle, she was a fiery, temperamental redhead," daughter Linda Stachowicz told a funeral gathering Monday at Northside Baptist Church. "Her histrionics were legendary."

Mrs. Cogar ("Cogrrrr" to some students behind her back) could wither with a look or wound with a few well-chosen words. But students who did the work generally avoided her wrath.

"She had an attitude and was quick with wisecracks," said lawyer Bruce Howie, who had Mrs. Cogar for American literature at Lakewood. "But it was less out of cynicism and more as a mechanism for deflecting nonsense from students."

Nor did she put up with what she considered nonsense from her bosses. When an assistant principal called to tell her that her son, Richard, had been reading comic books in school, she said, "Thank God he's reading something; thanks for letting me know" and hung up.

Joan Rumney was born in Elizabethtown, N.Y., the only child of a phone company worker who had wanted a boy and thought "Joan" at least sounded a little like John. In the second grade, she announced that she had changed her name to Joanne.

She got a bachelor's degree from Heidelberg College in Tiffin, Ohio. Graduate work in English and drama at Stetson University, Florida State University and the University of South Florida led to a master's degree from USF in American literature.

She taught English and drama at Boca Ciega starting in 1957, directing numerous plays. By the early 1970s, she had moved to Lakewood, primarily teaching English.

A clash with an administrator she viewed as meddlesome led Mrs. Cogar to retire about 1980. By then, she was ready, her children say, although they do not know whether she was burned out or just tired. She enjoyed playing bridge, lavishing attention on her grandchildren, and traveling with her husband, Daniel, who died two years ago.

Stachowicz, an English teacher for the last 30 years at Osceola High School, credits her mother with pushing her into teaching.

"She told me, 'It's a lot of hard work. You can plan four hours for a 40-minute class.' "

Andrew Meacham can be reached at (727) 892-2248 or ameacham@sptimes.com.

.Biography

Joanne Rumney Cogar

Born: Aug. 3, 1930.

Died: Sept. 1, 2010.

Survivors: Son Richard Cogar and his wife Pam; daughter Linda Cogar Stachowicz; and four grandchildren.

Tough English teacher Joanne Cogar pushed students to do their best 09/14/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 14, 2010 6:30pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Southern heritage groups sue to keep Confederate monument at old Tampa courthouse

    Local Government

    TAMPA — Groups that say they support Southern heritage filed a lawsuit late Friday trying to halt the removal of a Confederate statue from downtown Tampa.

    Workers place boards around a Confederate monument on Hillsborough County property in Tampa on Thursday, August 17, 2017. It took 24 hours to raise private funds in order to move the statue from its current location.
  2. Bucs mull options at right tackle as Dotson awaits MRI

    Bucs

    Right tackle Demar Dotson, the Bucs' most experienced offensive lineman, will undergo an MRI on his injured groin Saturday, three weeks before the season opener.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneer Demar Dotson, offensive tackle, brought his coffee and breakfast to One Buc Place, 7/31/15, as he reported to training camp.
  3. For starters: Rays vs. Mariners, with another new look

    Blogs

    Having lost 11 of their last 14 games and dropping to a season-worst four games under .500 at 60-64, the Rays continue to search for ways to get out of their extended offensive slump.

    And with the M's starting LHP Ariel Miranda today, that means another new look to the lineup, which includes having struggling …

  4. Chasing 125: Bucs hope to hit rushing goal more often

    Bucs

    Ever so often, Bucs coach Dirk Koetter pulls back the curtain a bit and shares some of the stats that matter to him most as a coach.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter walks the field during the second day of mandatory minicamp at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, June 14, 2017.
  5. Two Boca Ciega students arrested on charges they brought gun to high school football game

    Crime

    PINELLAS PARK — Two Boca Ciega High School students were arrested for having a loaded semi-automatic handgun with them at a Friday night football game at Pinellas Park High School.

    Two Boca Ciega High School students were arrested for bringing a weapon on school property on Friday night at a high school football game at Pinellas Park High School.