Elva White Grow Clark, 94, died in Tallahassee Saturday, Jan. 3, 2004, after a brief illness. A memorial service will be held Saturday, Jan. 10, at 1 p.m. at Culley's MeadowWood Funeral Home, Riggins Road Chapel, Tallahassee (850-877-8191). In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to Trinity United Methodist Church.
She was born Elva Geneva White on Dec. 3, 1909 in Pearson, Ga., to James Owen White, Sr., and Lila Corbitt White. Her near-death from the flu of 1918 made her into someone who was hardly sick another day in her long and active life. She attended Norman Park Junior College, began teaching high school in Atkinson County, Ga. at age 17, then graduated from Tift College. She began a long career of teaching high school at Colquitt, Ga., where she married William Alton Grow, Sr., in 1931. She earned a Master's Degree in Education from Florida State University.
In 1948, Elva W. Grow became the first woman to be elected county school superintendent in the state of Georgia, where she worked especially to improve rural and black schools. In 1955, she and her family moved to Tallahassee, Fla., where she taught English and history at Leon High School. After earning a second Master's Degree from FSU, in Library Science, she became librarian at Leon High, and later at Tallahassee Community College. In the years before retirement, she traveled throughout Florida as a consultant for improving school libraries. When what is now Envision Credit Union was founded by her fellow teachers, its funds and records were kept in a locked file cabinet in her library office.
She is remembered and loved by many who felt privileged to experience her polite perfectionism as a teacher, and who learned from her that a respectful command of language is the doorway to success in many fields.
She was an active member of Trinity Methodist Church, Delta Kappa Gamma honorary society, and a devoted wife, mother, sister, daughter, colleague, and friend. Seven years after Bill's death in 1981, she married Elton Clark of Norman Park, Ga., who had first proposed to her when she was 16. Elton died in 1991. Another childhood friend, Leo Smith, named the Elva White Grow variety of daylily after her.
Until all names slipped away in her last two years, she remembered everyone she ever met, and in most cases, the names of their relations and the names and ages of their children. She retained the basic sweetness of her nature to the end.
Survivors include stepdaughter Sherrie Grow Flynn of Atlanta, sons William A. Grow Jr. and Gerald Owen Grow of Tallahassee, sisters Eula Kirkland of Rome, Ga., Edwina Corbett and Evadelle White of Pearson, Ga., 12 grandchildren,16 great-grandchildren, and many cousins. She was preceded in death by her son John David Grow of Atlanta.
A memorial website will be posted at www.longleaf.net/elva/.