Evangeline Zeigler White Tolliver was born on July 20, 1931, in her mother’s native town of Apalachicola, Florida, to the late Stanley Franklin White II of Morant Bay, Jamaica, British West Indies, and Willie Zeigler White. She is the eldest of four siblings, Dr. Zeigler O’Neal White of Texas, Attorney Stanley Zeigler White of California, and Mrs. Laura Zeigler White Trimmings (deceased) of New Jersey.
Evangeline married the late Edward Tolliver. This union produced three children: Veronique (Carlos) and Edward (Delores) of Tallahassee and Joan Evangeline of Ft. Myers; six grandchildren: Steven Powell, Cuoshatta Tolliver-Bennet (Milton), Michael Tolliver, Jared Tolliver, Sierra Williams, and Elyse Tolliver Eichhoeffer (Christopher); and two great-grandchildren: Amani and Sage Naomi. She subsequently remarried the late Anthony Julius Whitehead, who loved her children and their families. She also embraced Renee Powell Tolliver, Joseph Williams, and William Eichhoffer as part of her loving family.
The daughter of two educators, her teaching career began while in third grade as her parents taught adults at their home in the late 1930s. Evangeline taught older adults who could neither read nor write, teaching them the alphabet, numbers, and how to write their names. This early experience resulted in her chosen career as an educator, which lasted for sixty years. Evangeline was educated at Holy Family School in Apalachicola and St. Mary’s Academy in New Orleans, Louisiana. Evangeline received her Bachelor’s degree from Bethune-Cookman in 1951. She undertook further studies at Temple University, University of Chicago, and Florida State University. She received her Master’s degree from the University of South Florida and also pursued her doctorate at the same institution, finishing all but dissertation (ABD).
Evangeline came to Ft. Myers in 1961 at the invitation of her college roommate and dear friend Emma Lee Troupe and began to teach at Dunbar Elementary School. In 1965, she was added to county staff to teach gifted children, going from school to school. In 1968, she became an Elementary Consultant and later served as the Elementary Coordinator for Social Studies in all the elementary schools in Lee County until her retirement in 1991. During much of this time, Evangeline also taught Adult Education classes in the evening.
Doing all of this while raising three children prepared Evangeline for her active life in semi-retirement. After her retirement from the Lee County School District in 1991, Evangeline home-schooled two of her grandchildren, continued to teach Adult Education classes, and volunteered at the AFCAAM center by running the Food Pantry and the SHARE program for feeding food-insecure families.
Reluctant to speak of her own success, Evangeline would recite the honors of her family. Her three children, her three siblings, and her parents have each achieved success through hard work, responsibility, and a strong belief in God. Both brothers changed careers in mid-life--one from an aeronautical engineer to a doctor and the other from an Army Colonel to a lawyer. Her sister also worked as a teacher and was the founding principal at Cicely Tyson Community School of Performing and Fine Arts in New Jersey. Evangeline’s children were her delight. Her oldest daughter is a retired college recruiter and event planner; her son has his Ph.D. and currently works for Tallahassee Community College; and her youngest daughter followed in her footsteps and retired from Lee County School District as a Coordinator.
She was a member of Holy Family Church in Apalachicola and St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Ft. Myers, and she was a founding member of St. Peter Claver Catholic Church and a full-time volunteer at the African Carribean American (AFCAAM) Center. She has been a member of several professional organizations, especially her proud sisterhood of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority.
Through her dedicated spirit, Evangeline touched the hearts of countless church and community members. She constantly gave thanks to God for His many blessings to her throughout the years. Evangeline will be sincerely missed and forever in the hearts of all the people she touched and loved, from her close friends to the families she helped teach and feed. We honor her and give thanks for all she has done in serving others in the name of our Lord.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made in her name to her favorite ministry, Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN.com), or to Hospice House, Cape Coral, Florida.
Interment: O’Neal-Zeigler-White family vault, Magnolia Cemetery, Apalachicola, Florida
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