07/07/05 — Honoree loses cancer fight

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Honoree loses cancer fight

By Becky Barclay
Published in News on July 7, 2005 1:45 PM

Cancer activist and long-time teacher Olivia Whaley lost her battle with the disease Wednesday. The 53-year-old Dudley woman was diagnosed with cancer last year and underwent chemotherapy and then surgery in December.

Mrs. Whaley was the honorary chairman of this year's Relay for Life for the Wayne County Unit of the American Cancer Society. She discussed her experiences with cancer at the kickoff banquet in February.

Olivia Whaley

Olivia Whaley

She said she had been "extremely blessed by such an unfortunate incident." She said from the first day she found out she had cancer, she realized she had to deal with it regardless of what the consequences would be.

Dr. Lee Adams, one of the Relay for Life co-chairman, said Mrs. Whaley "showed us a great courage and a deep faith in God that was inspirational to us all and helped us all realize why we really relay."

During her tests, treatments and surgery, Mrs. Whaley continued to work as a teacher. She told everyone that staying busy at school was good therapy for her and helped take her mind off the cancer.

Mrs. Whaley retired in September 2004 with more than 29 years of teaching experience at Brogden Primary School. She was a third- and fourth-grade teacher. During her last two years of teaching, she was the Title I parent coordinator.

Brogden Primary named her Teacher of the Year twice. She received the Bright Ideas Grant to purchase books for the accelerated reader program. She also served as a mentor for beginning teachers at the school.

Mrs. Whaley was long-time member of the North Carolina Association of Educators and a member of Alpha Delta Kappa Education Sorority, Gamma Gamma Chapter.

Brogden Primary dedicated its 2004-05 yearbook to her for her love and dedication to the students.

Mrs. Whaley was a member of First Baptist Church of Mount Olive, where she served as a deacon, Sunday school teacher and the children and handbell choir director.