Florence C. Whitney, 80, schoolteacher, administrator

Posted: August 13, 2014

AS A TEACHER and school administrator, Florence Whitney didn't always concentrate on the students who performed well.

What about the ones who needed extra help? Florence was there to help them.

When she was an executive of the Norristown Area School District, she created an alternative school program for the students who weren't making it in the regular classrooms.

It was one of many accomplishments she was proud of in her long career as both a teacher - in the Philadelphia School District, in Chester and Norristown, and even in France - and an administrator.

"She was a true teacher," said her husband, Dr. Theodore Whitney. "She was concerned about educating children and adults on various levels."

Florence C. Whitney also taught at Cheyney University and was a community activist, devoted traveler, hospital volunteer, and talented artist and musician. She died of cancer on Aug. 5. She was 80 and lived in Center City.

Every Christmas, Florence created calendars with her artwork that were cherished by family and friends. She also enjoyed doing watercolors and collages, and played the piano.

She was born in Darby to Harriet and Milton Culley. She graduated from Darby High School in 1952, and went on to Hahnemann University Nursing School. It was there that she met her future husband, who was in medical school. They married on June 29, 1955.

Deciding that she wanted a teaching career, Florence entered Cheyney State Teachers College, now Cheyney University, and graduated in 3 1/2 years.

Her husband and infant daughter were on hand to witness the proud graduation moment.

Florence was teaching in the Philadelphia School District when her husband was sent to Verdun, France, in the Army Medical Corps. She taught there in the dependents' school. After returning to the United States, she resumed teaching in Philadelphia while earning her master's at Temple University.

She then worked for a time in the Chester School District before moving to the Norristown district. She rose through the ranks, becoming a principal and assistant superintendent. She earned her doctorate from Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

After leaving Norristown, Florence returned to her alma mater Cheyney and taught both undergraduate and graduate students. Her graduate-level courses in education administration prepared students for their principal certifications.

"A consummate mentor, Florence saw the best in every person she encountered and encouraged them to look beyond their perceived limitations," her husband said.

As a community volunteer, Florence became a docent at the Philadelphia African American Museum and the Philadelphia Zoo. She volunteered at Pennsylvania Hospital.

Florence was a devoted member of Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, where she served as a greeter. She was a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority.

A dedicated traveler, she and her family visited six of the seven continents, and took many cruises.

Besides her husband, she is survived by three daughters, Estelle and Kathleen Whitney and Dara Ryan; a son, Michael; and six grandchildren. She was predeceased by another son, Theodore Whitney III.

Services: 10 a.m. Thursday at Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, 419 S. 6th St. Friends may call at 9 a.m. Burial will be in Mount Lawn Cemetery, Sharon Hill.

comments powered by Disqus