Dianne Marie Smith Partee, 73, of Sicklerville, a former School District of Philadelphia teacher and administrator, died Sunday, June 25, at Cooper University Hospital in Camden.
Her family said she died from complications of cancer, kidney failure, and pneumonia.
More than 30 years after her teaching career, her former students from the former Shoemaker Junior High School remembered her fondly, said her niece Loree Jones.
"Someone called me and said, 'She was my favorite teacher,'" said Jones. "Thirty-plus years later, someone hears her name and it inspires that reaction."
Mrs. Partee taught social studies before becoming a curriculum specialist, with a focus in African American studies. She was also a coordinator for the Black History Month Oratorical Contest, where she hosted workshops for teachers and judged contest participants.
Notable winners included Leslie Odom Jr., one of the original stars of the hit musical Hamilton, and City Councilwoman Cherelle L. Parker. Whenever Mrs. Partee saw news about Odom or the councilwoman, her son, Mario, said, she would say: " 'Wow, that was one of my oratorical winners.' She was so proud that she knew that her work meant something."
Mrs. Partee and her twin sister, Dionne Jones, were born on March 22, 1944, to Charles Norton Smith Jr. and Marie Evans Smith in Philadelphia. The couple also had a younger daughter, Deborah.
A graduate of Germantown High School and Cheyney University, Mrs. Partee began her career teaching at Shoemaker, in West Philadelphia. Around that time, she met her future husband, Douglas L. Partee, who was also a teacher in the city. The couple married in 1968 and moved to Sicklerville, where they started their family.
In her work as a curriculum specialist, Mrs. Partee wanted to make black students proud of their heritage, believing that knowing the positive aspects of African and African American history could inspire students to greatness, her niece said.
"Her job was to get African American studies in every discipline," said Jones. "So you'd learn about it in math, and you'd learn about it in the sciences."
Mrs. Partee co-hosted Cultural Connection on PSTV, the School District's TV station, with Carolyn Holmes from 1995 to 2002. The monthly show covered topics related to African American studies. She retired from the School District in 2004.
Mrs. Partee was an active member of Christ Care Unit Missionary Baptist Church, where she was a founding member, a deaconess, the superintendent of the Sunday school, and secretary.
Family and friends said she was known for her generosity, which continued after she became ill in 2014. Mario Partee said his mother organized snack packs for other patients at her dialysis center, and others noted that she regularly volunteered at her church and looked out for people in her community.
In addition to her son and niece, Mrs. Partee is survived by another son, Blaine; two sisters; a granddaughter; and two nephews. .