Services will be held this weekend to celebrate the life of a longtime Upper Arlington educator who was an advocate for students and those with special needs.
Paula (DiPaolo) White had a 31-year career in special education with Upper Arlington Schools. She died Jan. 24 after a sudden relapse of acute myeloid leukemia. She was 75.
White's family will receive visitors from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 23, at Schoedinger Northwest Chapel, 1740 Zollinger Road. A service to celebrate her life is set for 3 p.m.
"Paula had a great mind for shaping both student behavior and academic progress," said Shawn Strohl, who worked with White as an intervention services coordinator for Upper Arlington Schools and is now director of student services at Reynoldsburg City Schools.
"She touched many, many lives over the years. Paula just was very polished and gracious and able to use her skills -- her communication and her very bright mind -- to help the district move forward, I think, to meet the needs of special-needs students."
White earned a degree in social students and elementary education from Ohio State University in 1964. She then taught second grade at St. Agatha School in Upper Arlington, before putting her career on hold to raise her daughter, Wendy, and son, Andy.
During that time, she volunteered for Nationwide Children's Hospital, Twig 122, Pleasure Guild, COSI Women's Association and as a parent school volunteer
She resumed her career in 1982 when she began teaching special education in UA schools. She earned a master of arts degree in special education and supervision, and was recognized for her work in the classroom and as an intervention services coordinator for the district with a number of awards, including the UA School District Special Education Teacher of the Year, UA Rotary Golden Bear Award, UA Civic Association Golden Apple Award and Central Ohio Special Education Award.
White retired in 2013 but continued to work as a special education consultant.
Wendy White said until her mother's final days, parents of former students would approach her in public to thank her for the help she had given to their children and the influence she had on them.
She and Strohl said Paula White had a glowing sense of humor, and she refused to dwell in sadness or negativity throughout her life.
This included the aftermath of a Christmas Eve roughly nine years ago when her husband of 53 years, Roger, fell on ice and suffered a traumatic brain injury. She served as a "devoted caregiver," her daughter said, and was "committed to ensuring those around her achieved their highest potential."
Wendy White said family always came first for her mother. Even though her parents traveled to 39 countries, often for Roger's pharmaceutical business dealings, she said, her mother never missed a dance recital, cheerleading event or her brother's athletic games.
Additionally, she said, her mother "kept people together," regularly organizing gatherings of family members, friends and high school and college classmates.
"She was kind of the glue that kept everyone together and nurtured those relationships," Wendy White said.
She made sure the family spent time together at a home in Sarasota, Florida, where watching sunsets was a special tradition.
"My mom and dad were pretty much inseparable," her daughter said. "They traveled everywhere together."
After celebrating Thanksgiving, her 75th birthday and Christmas with family, White was doing well and her AML, a disease she was diagnosed with Dec. 23, 2017, seemed to be in remission.
But shortly after her 100-day milestone from her diagnosis, White fell ill and doctors deduced she had relapsed.
"With her illness, from the minute she was diagnosed until the end, she was very positive and courageous," Wendy White said. "She did a lot of clinical trials because she wanted to help other people.
"She was always there for us, no matter what. She gave us unconditional love."
In lieu of flowers, the family indicated donations can be made to the Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital, 460 W. 10th Ave., Columbus 43210. Memories or condolences, can be shared at schoedinger.com.