Yvonne Tomei McKitrick, named at birth Ivonne Maria Tomei, passed on Thursday, June 7th, 2018, in New Smyrna Beach, Florida. Born February 20, 1928 in New Haven, Connecticut, Yvonne was the only child of Italian immigrants Ulderico (Fred) and Marina Tomei. As an infant she and her mother relocated to Lucca (Tuscany), Italy and resided there until 1938 when, as war engulfed Europe, they returned to the United States. Yvonne graduated from Alberta Magnus College, one of the first persons in her Italian-American community to earn a college degree. In 1953, Yvonne married Fred Rockett and, in 1954, bore her only child Paul. Divorced shortly thereafter, she struggled as a single parent in Lansing, Michigan before meeting and marrying Keith McKitrick, a WWII Army veteran, in 1959. During that period she discovered the profession of education, became a teacher and subsequently taught elementary school in Lansing, Cincinnati, and Tampa.
In Tampa, where she lived most of her life, she excelled as a school librarian, as principal at Mort Elementary School and as the first Supervisor of Early Childhood Education. A life-long champion of early childhood education, she was instrumental in 1973 in launching Hillsborough County’s first district-wide kindergarten program, later recognized nationally as an exemplary program. She retired from the district in 1986, and two years later was elected to Hillsborough County School Board where she served two terms, including leadership roles as vice chairman and chairman. In 1995, Governor Lawton Chiles appointed her to the prestigious Florida Council of Education Management. During her tenure with the school district, she served on numerous boards including the Board of Directors for the Hillsborough Education Foundation. She retired as an elected official in 1996. In 1998, the University of South Florida requested that she serve as principal and leader for the new USF Charter School, a position she held for two years. In 2000, the School Board erected a new school that proudly bears her name, the Yvonne Tomei McKitrick Elementary School.
In 2001, Yvonne and Keith moved to New Smyrna Beach to be closer to family.
Preceded in death by her parents and husband, Keith, Yvonne is survived by her son Paul Tomei McKitrick and daughter-in-law, Terri of New Smyrna Beach; one grandson Brendan Keith McKitrick (Emely) of Gainesville and great grandson Weston Gallagher; and one granddaughter Christie Jean-Tomei Less (Adam David) of Stuart.
Throughout her long productive professional life, Yvonne delighted in developing the minds of young children and used her respected voice to cultivate and provide high-quality early childhood programs. Among colleagues, she was a leader of principle and intelligence and the occasional mischievous humor.
Funeral service will be Noon, Thursday, June 14th at Settle Wilder Chapel with Dr. Larry Wilson officiating. Burial will follow Sea Pines Memorial Gardens in the Garden of Faith in Edgewater.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made in Yvonne Tomei McKitrick’s name to Hillsborough Education Foundation by calling Amber Sale at (813)574-0293 or online at www.educationfoundation.com/gifts-that-honor-your-legacy
Hillsborough Education Foundation