Sammie Nell Irving Tolette – 1929-2021

Sammie Nell Irving Tolette – 1929-2021

Sammie Nell Irving Tollette passed away on July 26, 2021. She was born on May 10, 1928, in Karnack, Texas, to Wesley and Dorothy Coleman Irving.
She graduated from Lincoln High School in Dallas, received a BA in English from Wiley College in Marshall, Texas (1949), and earned a Masters in library science from Indiana University. She was an English teacher and/or librarian at the following schools: Stamps Training School; Guernsey HS (Hope); Harmony Grove (Camden); Townsend Park (Pine Bluff); University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff; Smackover Training School; Camden HS; and Booker and Dunbar Junior Highs (Little Rock). She served as President of the Little Rock Classroom Teachers’ Association (one year), as Treasurer of the Arkansas Education Association (four years), and as President of Arkansas Teachers Credit Union (10 years), resigning in 2021.

Sammie worshipped at Mount Carmel Baptist Church in Dallas and many Arkansas Christian Methodist Episcopal churches. At Bullock Temple CME Church (Little Rock), she served 11 years as Christian Education Director, 40 years in the Chancel Choir, and many years as Trustee Board Secretary.
Sammie spent a lifetime encouraging others. She gently advised and mentored young women in careers and service. She served as President and Charter Member of Top Ladies of Distinction, Inc. (four years), President of the Urban League Guild (one year), and Volunteer at the Clinton Presidential Library (eight years). She was dedicated to Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority with service as President of Beta Pi Omega chapter (four years), Ivy Foundation of Little Rock Board Member (10+ years), and Diamond Member for 75 years of active membership.

She was a faithful Christian, a loyal friend, and a loving wife, mother, grandmother and great grandmother.

Sammie was preceded in death by her husband, Sanford Bernard Tollette III; her parents; and sister, Eunice Vault.

Survivors include her sons, Sanford (Melinda “Binky”) Irving Tollette IV and Frederick Wesley Tollette both of Little Rock; grandchildren, Sanford James (Erica) Tollette V of Memphis, Christopher (ToyLetha) Irving Adams Tollette, Zoe Lynn Tollette, and Zia Rose Tollette, all of Little Rock; great-grandson, Amir Tollette of Little Rock; cousin, Saboor Salaam of Little Rock; cousin, Dorothy Marie Jones of Dallas; Vanessa Lewis, her caregiver for the past four years; and other relatives and friends who she considered family.
The family thanks the caregivers of Keisha’s Home Health for treating her like royalty.

Private Service: 10 a.m. Tuesday, August 3, 2021, at Bullock Temple CME. Livestream at www.btclr.org. Interment will be at Arkansas State Veterans Cemetery. Walk-through visitation: 12-5 p.m. on Monday, August 2, at Ruffin and Jarrett Funeral Home. Masks are required. Social spacing is observed. Virtual Family Hour: 6 p.m., Monday.

In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to Bullock Temple CME Youth Program, Joseph Pfeifer Kiwanis Camp, or the Janzen/Tollette Summer Music Camp Scholarship fund, 300 UNHS, 1 University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Ark. 72701.


3 thoughts on “Sammie Nell Irving Tolette – 1929-2021”

  • Sanford Irving, Frederick Wesley and family:
    I am sad to learn of the passing of your mother, one of the greatest women I have known! I have had the privilege of knowing your mother and father all of my life, from Smackover, Arkansas to the present. She mentored my mother, Laura Jean Smith Young and me. I am proud Arkansan living in Maryland and recognize that I was blessed to have her in my life as a positive example of love, caring and Black Excellence! You are in my thoughts and prayers, Cassandra Smith Moore and Family

  • Soror Tollette was a remarkable women, so compassionate and caring for others. Her kindness to me will always be cherished. As the advisor to the Gamma Alpha AKA chapter at Philander Smith College, she mentor me. In fact when I relocated back to Columbus, Ohio to join my husband in his new job, she stepped in to finish my term as advisor. She will be missed but we know “That To Be Absent From The Body Is To Be Present With The Lord”. I extend my condolence to her family.
    Soror Veronica Nesbitt-Plano, Texas

  • Sanford, I’m just now hearing about your Mom’s homegoing. I’m in prayer for you and the Family. Feel God’s Presence and His Peace. He can and will be right there with you whenever you need Him.
    Yolanda Hendrix-Guevara

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