In a letter announcing her retirement at the end of the current school year, Cassingham Elementary School fifth-grade teacher Molly Davis wrote: "Now it is time to close this chapter of my life. There will be tears of sadness and tears of joy."

In a letter announcing her retirement at the end of the current school year, Cassingham Elementary School fifth-grade teacher Molly Davis wrote:

"Now it is time to close this chapter of my life. There will be tears of sadness and tears of joy."

On March 15, Davis, 61, died as a result of injuries she sustained in an automobile accident in Clintonville.

As the final chapter of her life was written last week, the tears flowed freely. More than 300 parents, students, teachers and Bexley community members gathered for a candlelight vigil in front of the elementary school March 16. They remembered a woman whose 40-year career as a teacher was dedicated to the students she served.

Superintendent Mike Johnson said the district was devastated by Davis' death.

"It is taking us some time to recover," he said. "She was just a beautiful human being. She worried about other people before herself. She wanted to make sure before she taught one lesson that she connected emotionally with her students. She has affected a number of individuals and I'm sure shaped who they are as human beings and their value system."

Both of Cheryl Jacobs' children, Ben and Ari, had Davis for a teacher.

Jacobs recalled how Ben and his friends tested Jacobs as youths.

"Molly had a lot of patience," she said. "She was one of those teachers who didn't lose her patience. She loved those kids."

Davis also initiated a popular fifth-grade class project at Cassingham. Each year the class would put together a time capsule, then return as juniors in high school for a special luncheon with the current fifth-graders and open their time capsule.

"She used a lot of creativity with the children to make learning come alive," Jacobs said.

Davis started the tradition with her sister, Mary McMullen, who also taught fifth grade at Cassingham and retired in 2007. The sisters taught next door to each other for many years and were best friends, Jacobs said.

"She was so positive," Jacobs said. "As high school juniors with more experience they realized not everyone has that attitude."

Davis taught first grade her first year in Bexley and Amos White, who graduated from Bexley High School in 1983, was a member of that first class at Cassingham.

"My heart lies heavy with tonight's news," he posted on Facebook after the news of Davis' death broke. "Molly was loved by all who knew her. She touched lives with light in her eyes and warmed hearts with a song. She filled children's minds with a wild joy for learning and a hunger for all things beautiful with the compassion of a rose, the wisdom of an oak, the strength of the mighty Ohio, the grace of a May breeze, the patience of a gingerbread man and a love that we will pass on for generations. May she rest in peace."

Grief counselors were at Cassingham Elementary early on March 16 to help students, parents and staff deal with the tragedy. Johnson said the district will continue to offering counseling and other support as needed.

"We are going to try to put a teacher in (the classroom) that the kids already know for the rest of the year to try to stabilize the classroom environment," he said.

Davis started her career at Cassingham in 1971, hired just before graduating from Capital University. She was hired as a teacher aide for Cassingham and Bexley High School with the understanding that in the fall she would begin her career as a teacher.

She left Bexley after her first year of teaching for Groveport-Madison but returned to Bexley in 1975 to teach fifth grade.

Davis was named Ohio's Teacher of the Year in 1984 by the Ohio Department of Education.

Molly Davis

The Midwest is known for many things, not the least of which is close-knit communities.

When I moved to Columbus over 20 years ago from New York, I did not know what to expect, but the city of Bexley was everything that I had imagined and more. I loved the tree-lined streets and true neighborhood feel. Everyone seemed to know each other; many of the residents lived on the same block where they had grown up.

The Bexley City School system is no exception. My children were very fortunate to have some exceptional teachers, not the least of which was Molly Davis. When I think of Molly the word sunshine comes to mind because that was what she was - a ray of sunshine. Both of my children had the pleasure of being students in Molly's fifth-grade class and it was an experience that they have never forgotten.

When my son was in Molly's class he tested her, over and over again, but she never faltered. She treated him with love and respect. By the end of the school year his behavior had turned around and he left her classroom a changed little boy.

Two years later, my daughter became enchanted with Mrs. Davis. Each day she came home bubbling over with another wonderful thing they had learned. She always told me how beautiful Mrs. Davis was and how much fun they had in her class. The children beamed in her classroom and were sad when the end of the year came. But they had junior year of high school to look forward to when they were invited to have lunch as honored guests with the current crop of fifth-graders.

Molly Davis was one of those rare souls whose job was her passion. She loved each and every child she taught as if they were her own. I know that she was proud of all of their accomplishments and reveled as they became successful adults.

I will miss seeing her little blue "Dino D" thunderbird passing me as I left for work and she was arriving for another day of making a difference in our children's lives. There is another angel watching over our children today and I know she is still smiling that engaging smile.

This week we personally and collectively, as a Bexley community, lost an amazing human being in Molly Davis, Cassingham fifth-grade teacher, when she was killed in a car accident.

She was three months from retirement, minutes from home. As profound as is our grief, it cannot hold a candle to her family's, especially that of her husband John, her sister who also taught fifth-grade at Bexley, and brother-in law. We know this even as our own tears flow. We thank them for sharing her with us all these many years and extend our deepest condolences for their loss.

We reflect on her life, her loving, youthful, wise and graceful nature, her gifts to each and every student. She made a personal connection that ensured them they were worthy and loved and had something to contribute. We parents also felt that connection and marveled how she remembered everyone. She didn't just teach and send them on their way. She kept in touch and brought them back as juniors and seniors for reunions.

That our children and son-in-law were lucky enough to have her as their teacher, mentor, and role model is something they and we will always treasure. We used to joke that she gave them their first real job as safety patrols, teaching them responsibility, early to rise, going to work in all kinds of weather, and taking care of others.

Newsteam was a shining example of her creativity as she gave the children an appreciation for the world around them, gave them a sense of how to report, interpret and understand news, sports, weather, and the arts. She challenged them to grow. She took our children to serious places such as Motts Military Museum and fun places such as Wyandotte Lake.

To all her classes she read her book "Menelope" and allowed me the privilege of reading this extraordinary manuscript as well. If publishing were up to us, it would have been a best-seller years ago.

Mrs. Davis was taken away way too soon, but her legacy endures in the thousands of lives she touched who in turn will pay it forward. She made our lives brighter, helped make us who we are, and will always be a bridge to the future.