Edna E. Washington, a beloved administrator in Oakland public schools for more than 25 years, died at her Oakland home on July 13. She was 62.
During a lifetime devoted to Oakland children, Ms. Washington inspired the creation of a scholarship fund that has raised more than a million dollars to send disadvantaged students to college.
She was often quoted for her insight on why students drop out. "Children do not drop out in middle and high school," Ms. Washington often said. "They begin to drop out in elementary school."
Ms. Washington rose through the ranks, first as a teacher, and ultimately became acting school superintendent.
The strong but gentle woman began her career as an English teacher at Oakland High School in 1963. In 1967, she became vice principal of Lowell Junior High, and in 1976, principal of Woodrow Wilson Junior High.
After becoming a downtown administrator, Ms. Washington served as assistant to the superintendent and deputy superintendent. She retired as acting superintendent.
She was active in her sorority, the East Bay Area Chapter of AKA, and a charter member of the planning committee for the Black Film Makers Hall of Fame.
Her close friend, former superintendent Ruth Love, spoke warmly of Ms. Washington, who lived near her. "I held Edna in the highest esteem," said Love. "She was always a true professional, believing in high quality education for all children. She worked hard, was intelligent and a joy to work with."
The Rev. Herbert Guice, pastor of Bethel Missionary Baptist Church, was deeply saddened by her passing. He recalled that "Edna had been a member of the church since she was a little girl. When she grew up, she organized the scholarship fund that has helped countless of children get to college, raising over a million dollars over the years for graduates of Oakland schools."
Memorial service A celebration of her life will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday at Bethel Missionary Baptist church, 6901 Rudsdale St., with Guice officiating. Viewing will be from noon to 8 p.m today, and quiet hour from 7 to 8 p.m. tonight at Fouche's Hudson Chapel of Peace, 3665 Telegraph Ave.
The family requests donations to the American Heart Association instead of flowers.