This week, we lost a giant. She was not a politician or a judge, a doctor or a lawyer. She was a teacher. But not just a teacher–a great teacher and a wonderful part of New York City.

Marie Rhone was a grand dame who lived a life of service. She was a teacher at Hunter College Elementary School for 37 years. When I look at the roster of students whose lives she touched, the list is great. It did not matter if she was actually your teacher; you still feared Mrs. Rhone, because she was a force to be reckoned with. From this paper alone, I was one of those students who feared her from a distance. But even though she was not my teacher, I respected her and listened to her and knew that her stern way made us all better. Some thought she was just mean, and others prayed that they did not get her for second grade, but now looking back, we realize how much of an impact she had in our lives and how she made each and every one of us better people.

AmNews Managing Editor Kristin Fayne-Mulroy studied at her knee. Kysha Harris, our food and dining editor, was not only a student at Hunter, but was also Mrs. Rhone’s granddaughter. Keisha Sutton James, attorney Tyreta Foster, filmmaker Shola Lynch and her sister Nnena also knew, loved and feared Mrs. Rhone. Not to forget New York Times writer Michael Cooper and New Yorker writer Blake Eskin, among thousands of other young people whose lives she touched over her decades of service.

There are certain people who come into your life and touch it so profoundly. While many of us probably did not realize it or appreciate it at the time, Mrs. Rhone was that kind of teacher. When I think about elementary school–not that many teachers stick out–but Mrs. Rhone’s presence is one that has stayed with me. “Tuck in that shirt, back straight. Tie your shoe.”

Translation: “I care about you. I want you to put your best face forward. It is my job to make you ready for the world.”

And she did.

Thank you, Mrs. Rhone, for all the lessons you taught us, for all the love that you showed us and for all the strength that you instilled in us. You will forever go on teaching because we, your children, will never stop passing on your lessons.

We love you, and we will miss you. May you rest in peace knowing you touched us all so deeply.