Dr. Della Mae “Pepper” Jeter, 88, passed away Jan. 25, 2014, in Rowlett.
She was born Dec. 3, 1925, in Marshall, to Elisha Joshua and Faith Lamar Cirlot Pepper.
Pepper attended Marshall High School, where she was a cheerleader and played drums in the Marching Band. She was a 1943 graduate. Pepper attended Southwestern University, where she played the drums in the school band and also in a few local “honky tonks.”
While she was at Southwestern University, she was a member of the Mask & Wig Club, Independents (where she was secretary/treasurer), the Library Club (where she served as secretary), and the Woman’s Society of Christian Service.
Pepper graduated in 1946 with a major in Bible and a minor in Greek and Hebrew. After graduation, she attended East Texas State University in Commerce where she received her master of science degree with a major in psychology/special education in 1965. Then in 1970, she received her doctor of philosophy from East Texas State University in Commerce with a major in guidance and counseling.
Pepper worked as an educational director of First Methodist Church in Longview from 1946-48, personnel accountant with General Motors in Longview and Dallas from 1949-62, taught in Longview and Pine Tree ISDs from 1962-73, taught and was the chairman of the Special Education Department at East Texas State University in Commerce from 1973-86.
Pepper received many honors, including Educator of the Year in 1973, Leader in Education in 1974, Outstanding Educators of America in 1974, Who’s Who in American Women in 1975, Who’s Who in Texas in 1975, The World’s Who’s Who of Women in 1975, Who’s Who of the South and Southwest in 1975, and Personalities of the South in 1975.
She was also a member of Eastern Star Worthy Matron, Kappa Delta Pi-Honor Society in Education, Psi Chi-Honor Society in Psychology, Phi Delta Kappa-Professional Education Fraternity, and the Blue and Gold Society at ETSU.
Pepper served on a multitude of committees and held many office positions. She was considered a pioneer in the field of special education and her impact on the methods and models used with a student who has special needs is still felt today in our schools.
Pepper believed that the word “can’t” should be removed from the English language. She was strong, she was fearless and she fought for fairness and equality for all. She was a champion for those less fortunate and for those with challenges.
The world was a better place with her in it, but the legacy she left behind will live on. She was our hero.
She was preceded in death by her parents, Elisha Joshua and Faith Lamar Pepper; husbands, H.C. Todd Sr. and James F. Jeter; and brothers, John A. Pepper, E.J. Pepper, and Grady Paul Pepper.
Pepper is survived by her daughter, Missy Patterson and husband Mike of Rowlett; sons, H.C. “Chris” Todd Jr. and wife Fran of Fort Worth, James Vernon Jeter and wife Vicky of Louisville, Ky., Jerry R. Jeter and wife Charlene of Longview, and T. Craig Reynolds and wife Norma of Plano; brother, Joseph Felix Pepper; sister-in-law, Martha B. Pepper; 13 grandchildren; 9 great-grandchildren with 2 more expected summer 2014; 1 niece; 2 nephews; 8 grandnieces/nephews; and several cousins.
Visitation will be 12:30 to 1:30 p.m., Friday at Sullivan Funeral Home in Marshall.
Funeral service will be held at 2 p.m., Friday, at The Colonial Chapel of Sullivan Funeral Home in Marshall. Burial will follow at Algoma South Cemetery in Marshall.
Pink was her favorite color and would appreciate flower choices in that color. Contributions can be made to Texas A&M University, Della Pepper Jeter Scholarship Endowment, P.O. Box 3425, Commerce, Texas 75429-3425. Recipients of the scholarships are all special education majors.
Online condolences may be offered at www.sullivan-funeralhome.com