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Retired educator killed when motorized cart struck by vehicle

By Bianca Montes
June 14, 2013 at 1:14 a.m.
Updated June 15, 2013 at 1:15 a.m.


Memorial Service

• WHEN: 2 p.m. Monday

• WHERE: First United Methodist Church, 1717 Pioneer Ave., Wharton

• Wharton Funeral Home is handling the service.

In life, Margaret Scheller touched many lives in Wharton.

She was a business owner, she contributed to keeping the city beautiful, and she likely taught half the town a bit about history.

Above all that, her joy was infectious. "She always made you smile," said friend Carol Sassin.

Scheller, 83, of Wharton, died Thursday night after being struck by a Dodge 3500 one-ton pickup in the Wal-Mart parking lot in Wharton. She was in a motorized shopping cart.

Scheller was a longtime teacher at Wharton High School, where she taught history.

The accident is under investigation, said Sgt. Ben Evans of the Wharton Police Department.

Scheller was leaving the store when she was struck by driver Joe De la Rosa Benavides, 75, of Edna, Evans said.

"He couldn't see her, and she never saw him," Evans said.

Evans said the man picked up a passenger a few feet before the crosswalk.

"He had just begun from a stop position, and he wasn't going very fast," Evans said. "She just darted out of the store."

Scheller was taken to the Gulf Coast Medical Center emergency room. Wharton County Precinct 2 Justice of the Peace Cynthia Kubicek conducted the inquest.

"I was in disbelief," Sassin said. "I couldn't believe it happened to her. She still has so much to contribute."

Sassin said no one was just a student in Scheller's classroom. "She took a personal interest in every single one of us."

That interest wasn't only for her students but also for her community.

After retirement, Scheller served on Wharton's Beautification City Commission.

Jim Nickolyn, 65, served on the commission with Scheller and said she was passionate about her community. Scheller also taught him history.

"She was very vocal on making sure the community was clean," he said.

Scheller owned an area laundromat, and Nickolyn said she was proud of it.

But, he said, what really stood out about her was her heart.

"She would always find time to speak with you," Nickolyn said. "She's just a very caring person."

Scheller had survived her husband, Donald Scheller, who died June 15, 2000, at the age of 71.

"When you saw her, you just felt good," said Sassin. "I'm smiling right now."

The Advocate's Melissa Crowe contributed to this story.

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