Essie Mae Williams Gassett
HIGH SPRINGS - Essie Mae Williams Gassett, former mayor and city commissioner of High Springs, died March 25 at North Florida Regional Medical Center in Gainesville after a long illness. She was 64.
Mrs. Gassett formerly taught at Douglass Elementary School and High Springs Elementary School, later substitute teaching in Alachua County. As the first African-American woman elected official for the city of High Springs, she was High Springs' mayor from 1997-98. The city of High Springs declared Dec. 2 as Essie Gassett Day.
"She enjoyed working in the community and taught for most of her life, " said daughter Cassandra Gassett. "She was a committed, hard-working, dedicated woman."
Mrs. Gassett received a bachelor of science degree in elementary education from Bethune-Cookman College in Daytona Beach and a master's degree in supervision and administration from Nova University in Fort Lauderdale.
Born in Lamont, she moved from Lamont to High Springs 60 years ago.
Mrs. Gassett coordinated a pre-mother's day program each year, assisted the High Springs Mission Society with activities for senior citizens and disabled veterans, served on the Prevention Council of Substance and Alcohol Abuse, and was a girls basketball coach in the schools as well as a member of the High Springs Community Development Organization, American Association of Retired Persons, League of Cities and Tourist Development Council, Eta Phi Beta sorority, Female Protective Society, Order of the Eastern Star, Bethune-Cookman College Alumni Association, Alachua County Retired Teachers Association, Bethune-Cookman College Alumni Choir of Alachua County, and the Mount Carmel United Methodist Church.
Her awards include the 1994 Ebony Award, 1995 Mother of the Year, 1998 Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Leadership, 1998 Distinguished Ram, and 1995 Ms. Golden Girl.
She enjoyed traveling, attending sporting events, reading poetry, singing and helping the disadvantaged and elderly.
"She would help people get jobs and provided for them when there was a need for food or shelter, " said Cassandra Gassett.
Mrs. Gassett was preceded in death by her husband, Sandy James Gassett.
Survivors include a daughter, Cassandra Gassett Davis of High Springs; three sons, Sidney Gassett of Tampa, Rodney Gassett of Atlanta and Eric Gassett of High Springs; two sisters, Clara Durr of Jacksonville and Susie Swinton of Tampa; six grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.
- by Kathy Ciotola
Evelyn Ernistine Cook Chumbley
Evelyn Ernistine Cook Chumbley of Murphy, N.C., died Tuesday in Clay County, N.C. She was 90.
Mrs. Chumbley was born in Glynn County, Ga., and moved from Fairfield Fl to Murphy eight years ago.
She was a member of the Wacahoota Methodist Church in Williston.
Mrs. Chumbley was preceded in death by her husband, Ralph Chumbley; and a son, Ralph B. Chumbley.
Survivors include four daughters; a half-sister, June Sullivan of Hawthorne; nine grandchildren; 12 great-grandchildren; and one great-great-grandson.
Inez Wilkerson Cunningham
Inez Wilkerson Cunningham of Gainesville died March 24 at North Florida Regional Medical Center after a long illness. She was 91.
Mrs. Cunningham was a homemaker.
Born in Tallahassee, she moved from Tallahassee to Gainesville 77 years ago.
Mrs. Cunningham was a member of the Female Protective Society Lodge No. 1, the Pallbearer's Lodge No. 156 and the Mount Olive Primitive Baptist Church.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Daniel Cunningham.
Survivors include two daughters, Doris Cunningham-Brown of Gainesville and Julia Mae Williams of Tampa; a son, Elijah Cunningham of Philadelphia; two sisters, Beatrice Paxton of Daytona Beach and Roberta Williams of Jacksonville; 15 grandchildren; 33 great-grandchildren; and five great-great-grandchildren.
Thomas Joseph Duncan
Thomas Joseph Duncan of Gainesville died Wednesday at Shands at the University of Florida. He was 80.
Mr. Duncan was a retired plumber. He also served in the U.S. Navy during World War II.
Born in Chicago, he moved from Panama to Gainesville 20 years ago.
Mr. Duncan was a member of Holy Faith Catholic Church and Veterans of Foreign Wars.
Survivors include his wife, Silvia Castillo Duncan of Gainesville; two daughters, Martha Duncan of Alexandria, Va., and Diana DeGreef of Panama; a son, Thomas Duncan of Panama; and a brother, William F. Duncan of Tavernier.
Expressions of sympathy may be made as donations to the American Lung Association in Jacksonville.
Robert H. Heath
McINTOSH - Robert H. Heath of McIntosh died Tuesday at his home. He was 53.
Mr. Heath was a contract utility coordinator at Gainesville Regional Utilities. He also served in the U.S. Marine Corps during the Vietnam War.
Born in New Smyrna Beach, he moved from Miami to McIntosh 19 years ago.
Survivors include his wife, Donna Heath of McIntosh; a daughter, Courtney Glattli of Ocala; a brother, Richard Heath of Murrells Inlet, S.C.; and a sister, Martha Ann Kittel of Lake Worth.
Expressions of sympathy may be made as donations to Hospice House of Gainesville.
Cleo "Sweet Pea" Joiner of Gainesville died March 24 at his home after a brief illness. He was 61.
Mr. Joiner was a retired construction worker.
Born in Foley, he moved from Williston to Gainesville about 25 years ago.
Mr. Joiner was a member of the SE 10th Avenue Church of Christ.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Ruby Mae Polite Joiner.
Survivors include his companion, Dorethia Hall of Gainesville; four daughters, Bernita J. Smith, Cleola Wesley, Annie King and Matilda Joiner, all of Williston; a stepdaughter, Mary L. McIntyre of Ocala; two sons, Michael Joiner and Daniel Joiner, both of Williston; two sisters, Lucille Anderson of Williston and Lillie Galloway of Gainesville; a brother, Leo Joiner of Williston; 21 grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.
Inez Stewart Kite
KEYSTONE HEIGHTS - Inez Stewart Kite of Keystone Heights died Monday at her home after a brief illness. She was 79.
Mrs. Kite was a homemaker and a member of Eliam Baptist Church.
Born in Milton, she moved from Gainesville to Keystone Heights 22 years ago.
Survivors include two daughters, Danez K. Mason and Ginger K. Prevatt, both of Gainesville; a sister, Mildred McCallum of Gainesville; two grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.
Della Luketich Previc
Della Luketich Previc of Florence, S.C., died March 20 at the Heritage Nursing Home in Florence. She was 91.
Mrs. Previc was born in Export, Pa., and lived in Gainesville for nine years before moving to Florence 12 years ago.
Survivors include a son, Edward Paul Previc of Gainesville; a daughter; two sisters; a brother; five grandchildren; and eight great-grandchildren.
Mary Jane Purser
Mary Jane Purser of Gainesville died Tuesday at North Florida Regional Medical Center after a short illness. She was 70.
Mrs. Purser was born in Orlando and lived in Germany and Japan before moving from Howey In The Hills to Gainesville 12 years ago.
She attended Florida State University, where she was a member of Pi Beta Phi sorority.
Mrs. Purser was past president of numerous Officers Wives Clubs and Howey Garden Club, and was captain of a 300 Club tennis team.
She was preceded in death by a son, William Dodge Purser.
Survivors include her husband, Col. Henry W. "Buddy" Purser of Gainesville; two daughters, Rebecca Purser and Shelly Purser, both of Ponte Vedra Beach; a son, Nana Schneider of Gainesville; a sister, Sue Lilley of Orlando; two brothers, W.O. Anderson and Lane Taylor, both of Mount Dora; and a granddaughter.
Expressions of sympathy may be made as donations to the Community Church of Howey in Howey In The Hills.