In memory of
Gloria Avalon White 1927-2017 Gloria Avalon White was born in San Antonio in 1927, the only child of the marriage between Leroy Howard and Martha Harris. She grew up on the South Side of San Antonio and graduated from Breckinridge High School and then Trinity University, where she received a bachelor's and a master's degree. Gloria Howard was married to William Byrd ("Bill") White from 1948 until his death in 2011. They met shortly after his return from military combat in World War II. His family lived down the street—Hot Wells Boulevard—from Gloria's family. Bill and Gloria attended Trinity University together. Gloria was a devoted mother to their two sons, Bill and Robert. After graduating from college, Gloria became a public school teacher, much beloved by her numerous students. She enjoyed a 35 year teaching career in San Antonio, beginning at Collier Elementary in Harlandale ISD, and ending at Nimitz Middle School and Lee High School in Northeast ISD, where she taught speech and English. Bill and Gloria also taught Sunday school as a team at St. Stephens United Methodist Church in San Antonio. Gloria believed that every person had some God-given gift, and her students found out that she had special talent for recognizing it. Many students have described her enduring impact on their lives, using phrases such as such as "best teacher ever," "inspired me to teach in the public schools," "taught me to believe in myself," and "tough but good." In her last decade of teaching, Gloria coached nationally recognized debate teams. Three times she served as director of the National Forensic League's state tournament. Gloria received numerous professional rewards and recognitions, and served as an active participant and officer in many non-profits. But her family remembers her for her enduring kindness. When she entered a room, she was the person sure to notice a plant that needed watering, a hamster that lacked food, or a person sitting by herself. Her joy in life was helping others, and even as she grew less mobile she was in the kitchen offering help with the dishes. She was married for 63 years to her best friend, who loved to tell jokes, and she and Bill went hand in hand together always playful and in love. Throughout her life, Gloria's faith was her anchor. She was an active member of St. Stephens United Methodist and University United Methodist Church in San Antonio, until she moved to Houston in 2004, when she joined the First United Methodist Church. In her later years, she made many new friends among her fellow residents at The Forum, on North Post Oak, where she made it a point to reach out to new residents until her own health declined. She also kept touch with many Houstonians whom she got to know when working on her son Bill's mayoral campaigns and while supporting her late son Robert Avalon's work with the Foundation for Modern Music and other non-profits. According to her son Bill, "from my earliest childhood memories until her last days with us, I never once saw her lose her temper or say something intended to hurt someone else. When others engaged in harmful conduct, she expressed any criticism in terms of genuine sorrow for their insecurity or lack of understanding." Gloria is survived by her son and daughter-in-law Bill and Andrea White and her grandchildren Will, Elena, and Stephen White. She was pre-deceased by her mother, Martha Harris Howard Dean, her father Leroy Howard, her husband Bill White, and her son Robert Avalon. Her family gives special thanks to her caretakers Amelia Cruz and Myrna King. In her later years Amelia became her dear friend and confidante. All who knew Gloria are witness to her enthusiasm for life, which she once expressed in the following words: "My life is a sacred journey, and it is about change, growth, discovery, movement, transformation. . . . With the will of God and the supportive love of my family, I go forward shaping my life and those around me into a magnificent tale of teaching, healing, beauty, wisdom and love. At my journey's end, God will be my judge." In lieu of gifts, her family would direct any contributions in her memory to Houston's First United Methodist Church or the Foundation for Modern Music. A private service in her honor was held today.
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