Jossie Fox Nichols, 90, of Sarasota, Florida, went to be with her Lord on March 18, 2017.
Born in 1926 to the late Walter Gwynn Fox and Jossie Stumon Fox of Sanford, Florida, Jossie was one of eight siblings. Her family moved to Sarasota in the late 1920s when her father was hired as superintendent of celery operations at Palmer Farms. Jossie attended Sarasota High School and then studied for two years at Spartanburg Jr. College, S.C., before pursuing her lifetime love of and work in early childhood education.
She is remembered by many as a remarkable preschool teacher and important children's advocate in the history of Sarasota. She started her private preschool, The Children's Garden, in the early 1950s in the now historic Gillespie Park neighborhood of Sarasota. Jossie believed that children learn through play and hands-on experience. During her fifty years of teaching, her school and philosophies would influence many other teachers and programs. She is affectionately known to hundreds of former students and parents as "Miss Jossie".
Jossie and husband, artist Roy Nichols, worked together with the preschool and also with Roy's career in painting and teaching art in South Florida and in western North Carolina. Roy and Jossie ran Fontana Summer School of Art in Fontana, N.C. for twenty-nine years. Later, they spent their summers in Burnsville, N.C. Jossie also took up painting and joined her husband showing in galleries and exhibitions. They moved to Jonesborough, Tennessee, in 2016 to be near their daughter, artist Peggy Root.Jossie was active in education associations, art groups and the Gillespie Park Neighborhood Association. She also worked with children, sang in the choir, and served on the vestry at her beloved Church of the Redeemer in Sarasota, Florida.
Jossie is survived her husband of sixty years, LeRoy Welling Nichols Jr., daughter, Peggy Nichols Root, (Tom) two grandchildren Gwynn Stephenson Root and Charles LeRoy Root, two brothers Richard D. Fox and John Clifton Fox, both of Sarasota and many nieces and nephews. A memorial service will be held on April 11 at 3 p.m. at Church of the Redeemer, 222 South Palm Avenue, Sarasota, Florida, 34236.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be sent to: "Church of the Redeemer Building Fund" which will benefit the congregation and community (send to the address above) or "Stephen's LifeVision Home" which is a home for rescued orphans and vulnerable children in Zambia - a mission supported by dear friends. The online link is: https://web.familylegacy.com/donate/stephenslvh
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