Crestview Head Start supporters remember former director

Head Start Gloria Jean Tippens memorial

A memorial ceremony for Gloria Jean Tippens, Okaloosa Head Start’s director for 26 years, is Saturday at Beulah First Baptist Church in Fort Walton Beach.

Special to the News Bulletin
Published: Thursday, April 11, 2013 at 07:06 PM.

CRESTVIEW — Okaloosa Head Start supporters want to honor the memory of Gloria Jean Tippens, the program’s long-time director, who died at age 81 in late February.

Head Start — funded through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services — educates children 3-5 years old from low-income households. Tippens, who led the Okaloosa program for 26 years, is credited with reviving it after funding stopped. 

The program, then under Community Action Partnership, lost its funding in 1976, but Tippens and other volunteers pounded the pavement to keep it going.

"My mother started walking door to door asking for donations," Beatrice Jackson, a retired medical technician and Fort Walton Beach resident, said. "She also got the support from the local mayors and city officials at the time."

"In 1971, there was only 100 students. Now, there are like 400," Jackson said.

Crestview has four Head Start sites; Laurel Hill has one.

However, growing the Head Start program didn’t end with Tippens’ retirement.

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