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Retired educator Daisy E. Riviere dies at 93

She is remembered as a standout teacher who inspired others to become teachers.

Published June 24, 2004

Daisy Ericson Riviere, the principal at Ozona Elementary School for nearly four decades who inspired others to teach, died Wednesday. She was 93. Born in Boston to Swedish immigrants, Mrs. Riviere moved to Palm Harbor as a young child. After graduating from Tarpon Springs High School in 1929, she went on to St. Petersburg Junior College and taught at Ozona while still a college student.

In 1936, four years after she became a full-time teacher, Mrs. Riviere took on principal duties at the red-brick schoolhouse that her father had built, and where she had attended third through eighth grades. In those days, she would get to school early to warm the classroom with a wood-burning stove, after stopping by the fish market on her way in to buy food for the students' lunch, said her niece, Cecile Longfellow.

"That was her life, her dedication was to the education of children," said Longfellow, also a teacher. "She loved children and never had any of her own, so she was really devoted to her children at her school."

Sharon Agner was one of those students, even after she finished Mrs. Riviere's third-grade class many years ago.

She remembered Mrs. Riviere as a standout teacher who inspired Agner to become one herself. In her 38 years in the classroom, Agner said she tried to carry on Mrs. Riviere's teaching legacy.

"She truly loved children and enjoyed teaching and set high standards for children but still had a very nurturing way to bring out their personality," said Agner, who retired in 2003 from Palm Harbor Elementary. Over the years, the two had kept in touch with letters and cards.

In the late 1930s, she married Lowell Riviere, a dairyman and member of a prominent North Pinellas family. After his death five years later, she never considered remarrying, although she was in her early 30s, said her niece.

"She always felt like that was her marriage and that was her husband, and she was just never interested in being married to anybody else," Longfellow said. "She was almost married to her career."

After retiring in 1971, Mrs. Riviere lived with her sister, Longfellow's mother, in a home on Indian Bluff Island, north of Crystal Beach. She lived for the last six years in nursing homes, after suffering a stroke on a Sunday after church.

In her retirement, Mrs. Riviere was determined to stay busy, teaching piano and taking up oil painting. She also loved to travel and often went to Europe, particularly Sweden. Her best trip, Longfellow said, was a 72-day cruise of the Pacific Ocean she took with a group of retired principals.

Mrs. Riviere was a lifelong member of Palm Harbor United Methodist Church, where she taught Sunday school and played the organ and piano. For more than 50 years, she was a member of the Pilot Club for Professional Women, and she was a Past Worthy Matron of the Palm Harbor chapter of the Order of Eastern Star. She was also involved with the Palm Harbor Historical Society.

In addition to her niece, Mrs. Riviere is survived by six nephews, Edward Ericson of Dunedin, Wallace Ericson of Tarpon Springs, Eric Jones of Vero Beach, Chris Jones of Plant City, and Billy Martin and Charles Martin, both of Odessa.

Friends may call at 1 p.m. Saturday at Curlew Hills Funeral Home, 1717 Curlew Road, Palm Harbor. A funeral service will follow at 2 p.m. with burial at Curlew Pioneer Cemetery.

[Last modified June 24, 2004, 01:00:37]

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