By DIANE GASPER-O'BRIEN

dobrien@dailynews.net

LOGAN -- You can take the teacher out of the classroom, but it's hard to take the passion for education out of the teacher.

Freida States, long after teaching children in primary grades for nearly 50 years in Phillips County, and almost 20 years after retiring from that profession, still has education at the forefront of her life.

States, who turned 86 last week, likes staying involved with a Logan school district scholarship established in her name when she retired in 1995, a few years after being inducted into the Kansas Teachers Hall of Fame in Dodge City.

And, she points out -- she chuckles at this one -- she still is learning herself.

As States' birthday approached this year, some people teased her, asking if she hadn't turned those numbers around, that she looks more like 68 than 86.

"Oh, I don't know about that," said States, who keeps up with current news and sports and still drives downtown to get her mail. "But people say that if they don't see me out (in the yard), they're wondering if I'm sick or something."

States still has a slight limp after falling and breaking her left foot six years ago, but that hasn't stopped her from doing her darnedest to keep weeds out of her large yard on the corner of Jefferson and Church streets.

States is quick to point out her yard maintenance crew does a "wonderful job" of mowing and edging and spraying the weeds.

"But that spurge is flat-ground clingers and intensive spreaders," she said of the low-growing plant with a milky sap and known as one of the fastest spreading weeds.

Plus, she added, there are other benefits to pulling weeds.

"My body needs exercise," she said. "It takes a lot of body bending to reach those weeds.

"And, when I'm out here, I get to enjoy all our outside blessings."

States also considers herself "blessed" to be able to spend time with her younger brother, Richard Hofaker, and his wife, Doris, who live on a farm near Logan.

The Hofakers have grandchildren in the Logan school system, so States hitches a ride to their school events.

"I'm very fond of my brother and sister-in-law," States said, "and so very glad they take me along."

A widow of 14 years, States thinks staying active is a key to happy living and believes Logan (population 600) is just the right size town for her.

That's why she declines the urging of her only son to move nearer him in California.

"I tell him, 'I'm 86 years old, and I'm familiar with the town and surroundings here,' " she said. "And if it gets to the point where I can't live alone, there's a (nursing) home here and assisted living, too."

States grew up on a farm near Logan, where she attended school until her junior year in high school, when she transferred to nearby Phillipsburg for Normal Training for teachers.

She then taught at Cross Roads Rural School and other Phillips County schools before taking over the first-grade classroom in Logan, where she taught for 44 more years.

She knew her future husband, Arnold States, from attending school in Logan, and they were married in 1946. They celebrated their 50th anniversary before he died in 1998 after a bout with cancer.

"I sure do miss that man," she said. "You get so attached to so many different people, and they pass on and you miss them. But you have to go on. Hopefully, if things work out, we'll be with them in the afterlife."