Anna Jolivet, a renowned local educator who was the first African-American woman to be appointed principal of a Tucson Unified School District school, died earlier this week.
She was 85. Even after she retired from TUSD as an assistant superintendent in 1989, she continued to be a force in the district and community as a civic activist and fundraiser.
Jolivet was a native Tucsonan and University of Arizona graduate who was known for her work as an educator, community advocate and cultural leader while serving on the board of directors for many local, regional and national organizations.
She grew up in Tucson when schools were racially segregated, attending the all-black Dunbar-Spring School and Tucson High School, where her homeroom class was black only.
In 1950, she was one of three African-American women to graduate from the UA. Jolivet received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in elementary education, as well as a doctorate in education administration.
After graduating, she went back to Dunbar to work as a music teacher.
“She gave tirelessly of herself to make Tucson a better place. Much of her work centered around the children and youth in our community,” Jimmy Hart, director of TUSD’s African American Student Services, said in a statement. “Her philanthropic efforts have resulted in many students benefiting and receiving scholarships to further their education in college.”
Her work transcended education, as Jolivet served on numerous boards, including the NAACP, the Tucson Urban League, the Sahuaro Girls Scout Council, UA Presents and the Pima Council on Aging.
In 1996, she was the first black woman to be named Woman of the Year by the Tucson Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce.
She was one of the founding members of the America-Israel Friendship League’s Tucson chapter and took frequent trips to Israel, said John Huerta, former president of the organization. “She trained them and took care of them,” Huerta said, referring to students who were part of the program.
In addition, Jolivet was a founding member of the Educational Enrichment Foundation, said Ray Davies, emeritus board member for the organization.
In 2010, she received the Ray Davies Lifetime Humanitarian Achievement Award from the organization for her involvement in programs and institutions that promote quality education and serve Tucson’s youth.
Davies credited Jolivet for creating an endowment to help educate people on human and civil rights.
“Under her leadership, we have grown into a very helpful agency for young people,” he said. “She was a pioneer.”
Pamela Francis, executive director of the foundation, said Jolivet was a lovely person, despite her businesslike demeanor.
“She was one of the people everyone revered so much,” Francis said. “She was one of my favorite people.”
Funeral information is pending.Neither funeral arrangements nor information on her cause of death were available Friday.
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