October 5, 1943September 29, 2019

Donna Ewing Glausser, age 75, left our world on Sunday, September 29, 2019 at her home in Tampa, Florida after a long illness. She was surrounded by her family. Donna was born on October 5, 1943 to Grant Harold Glausser and Dorothy Elizabeth Glausser, née Barto, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She grew up in the South Hills of Pittsburgh in the Borough of Dormont. She was the oldest sister of three, paving the way for her future leadership skills. As a child and teenager, she was a member of the Mt Lebanon United Presbyterian Church. She graduated Dormont High School in 1961. She graduated from Waynesburg College in 1965, where she studied English. She married and had two children, Julia Lynne Davic and Dean Patrick Davic. Donna taught Reading and English at middle schools in both the Keystone Oaks and Peters Township districts throughout the early to mid-1970s. She attended Duquesne University and received her Master’s in 1976. She then made the decision to move to Tampa, Florida, originally intending to continue her studies at the doctoral level at University of South Florida but her would-be advisor left the university before she could enroll. This unexpected change led Donna to a life-long career at Head Start.

Donna’s career at Head Start began as a teacher’s aide of a Head Start center in 1976. She worked in this position until she became a teacher and was then promoted to Center Coordinator. She diligently devoted her passion for education and literacy and instilled these values in the thousands of young children she taught until she was promoted to the position of the Handicapped Coordinator for Head Start and finally Head Start Director for Hillsborough County.

As Director she launched numerous initiatives such as the accreditation for all of Hillsborough County’s Head Start centers, the Expectant Parent Center, the Women’s Renaissance Group, and the Men’s Project. She won a national award for her work in establishing Early Head Start in Hillsborough County. She tripled the number of Head Start centers during her tenure. She also created the model for the Family Child Care Homes. She was a member of the National Head Start Association and the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).

Always prioritizing children’s educational, social, and health goals, Donna oversaw the collaboration with USF to open a University Head Start Center on the USF campus in 1992 and collaborated with Hillsborough Community College to establish Head Start Centers on their Brandon and Plant City campuses. These initiatives helped bring children to the university settings, in order to give them a head start in education and in life.

In 1995, Donna formed the Hillsborough Head Start Community Foundation, Inc. This was the first foundation formed in the State of Florida to help raise funds for the Head Start Program. The foundation allowed Head Start to flourish. In 1998, Donna established the Head Start Fatherhood Initiative in Hillsborough County. This initiative worked with communities to engage fathers in their children’s lives and to end father absence. In 2000, she was appointed to the Kinship Care Advisory Committee, which established the Kinship Support Center.

Donna truly believed in Head Start’s ability to change lives for the better and to build healthy communities. The time and energy she devoted to it led her to be known as one of the most effective Head Start Directors throughout the history of the program in Hillsborough County. Her colleagues expressed that she was a kind, compassionate, generous, thoughtful, inspirational leader who truly believed in equality. She instilled her values and work ethic in everything she devoted herself to. In working for Head Start she championed education as the primary force to change society for the better. She had an inclusive approach to education for people with disabilities. She also took an active role in her niece Lucie Widdoes’ educational development, making sure that she was fully included in the Head Start Program and in classes in the Hillsborough County Public School System.

After retiring from Head Start in 2005, Donna continued to invest her time and energy in her community in Tampa. Long a patron of the Hillsborough County library system, Donna wanted others to love libraries and books as much as she did. She became active on the executive board of the Friends of the Jan Kaminis Platt regional library in 2008, chairing and serving on committees, and was the executive board secretary from 2009-2011 and 2013-2016. She helped to fund and program numerous activities to support the library.

Even in retirement, Donna was a force to be reckoned with. She gardened, researched her family’s genealogy, could read 300-page books in a day, found time to watch her favorite British TV shows, devoted time to raising two Boston Terriers and set about establishing her career as a writer. She wrote essays about her life and childhood that were published in the St. Pete Times. She also wrote two full-length self-published memoirs. When not working on her own writing, she encouraged others to embrace their creative expression. She was very proud of her grandson Grant Bobbitt’s accomplishments as a cellist in the Plant High School orchestra, and her niece Autumn Widdoes as a writer and theater artist.

Donna was the matriarch of her family. She was generous with her love as a mother, daughter, sister, and aunt. She hosted numerous family gatherings and holidays at her home with a unique, creative flair. She loved to be surrounded by her family and to celebrate with them. She was often full of laughter and articulate in her advice on how to navigate the world ethically. She held the family together through mournful and stressful experiences and was the go-to for wisdom.

Donna was preceded in death by her parents, Dorothy Elizabeth Glausser and Grant Harold Glausser. She is survived by her daughter Julia Lynne Davic, her son Dean Patrick Davic, her daughter-in-law Mary Davic and step granddaughters Stephanie and Michelle, her grandson Grant Jakob Bobbitt, her sisters Suzanne Glausser Widdoes and Robin Glausser, her nieces Autumn Suzanne Widdoes and Lucie Colleen Widdoes, her nephew Michael Sean Widdoes, Jr, her grand-niece Roxanne Elise Widdoes, her nephew’s wife Reena Lama and stepson Aidan Thapa.

A memorial service celebrating her life will be held at Palma Ceia Presbyterian Church located at 3501 W San Jose St, Tampa, FL at 11 a.m. on Saturday, October 26th. A gathering among friends and family will follow at her home from 1 -4 p.m. In lieu of flowers, the family kindly asks that donations be made to the Friends of the Library Board at the Jan Kaminis Platt Library. Donna lived a beautiful life. She will be truly missed by her family and friends.


26 October

Memorial Service

11:00 am - 12:00 pm

Palma Ceia Presbyterian Church

3501 W San Jose Street
Tampa, FL 33629

26 October

Celebration of Life

1:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Donna's Residence

3924 W. Bay to Bay Blvd
Tampa, FL 33629



have a memory or condolence to add?

Joe Stines

October 19, 2019

During my forty years as a librarian, I was blessed to meet three ladies who not only loved children but respected them as little people. Donna was one of them and probably did the most to leave lasting effects on their lives through her leadership work in Head Start. I was fortunate to have her as a mentor, then colleague and finally delightful Facebook friend following our retirements. She was focused, caring and one never had to guess as to how she felt about any topic. She loved her family and her doggies and all children. Tampa has lost a true public servant by her passing. But we all were blessed by knowing Donna and her memory and legacy will continue for many years to come.
Joe Stines Mérida, México

Terrell Morrison

October 16, 2019

Donna was truly a great lady and a wonderful director. I had the privilege of working under her direction, leadership, and insight. She was a fantastic boss with a great sense of humor. I thank God for the investment she made in the lives of those she served with dignity!

May God grant abounding peace to her all her loved ones-

Terrell Morrison, LCSW
former Head Start/Early Head Start Family Service Supervisor

Anthea Henderson

October 16, 2019

Dear Donna,

Thank you for believing in me and recognizing my potential in leadership. You trusted me, encouraged me and supported me. You even lovingly chastised me, when needed, (-:

Your passion for seeing the best in others and for helping them to realize it has greatly impacted many. The children and families of Head Start/Early Head Start have benefitted from your love, leadership and dedication. You were truly a servant leader. You challenged your staff to serve children and families with respect and dignity.

Because of you, Head Start/Early Head Start will always have a special place in my heart. The level of excellence that you ALWAYS demanded, remains a part of my DNA.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart. You will be missed here on earth but I know that you have settled in a very special place prepared just for you. Rest in peace...

To Donna's family...My deepest condolences. I feel that I know each of you personally because her love for you was always shared through the many stories of pride and joy. I pray that the memories bring you peace. God Bless!

Felicia Lyons

October 14, 2019

For the family, My sincere condolences. I remember Ms. Glausser from Head Start. I remember just starting for the program and Ms. Glausser was so kind to me. She made sure that I was taken care of by the other staff. I will always remember her for her commitment to the Head Start Program of Hillsborough county. She will be missed.

Ms. Felicia Lyons

Cynthia Williams

October 12, 2019

My deepest condolences to Donna's family. Donna was the best Director for Head Start / Early Head Start program. I knows this because she was the kind of Director that believed in her staff. She provided opportunities for growth and she push you in reaching your full potential. Donna made me stronger than I knew, smarter than I thought and braver than I believed I was. She was loved more than you all knew. Thank you family for sharing her with us. I consider Head Start program as my extended family and I celebrate with you the life of a wonderful leader.
My thoughts and prayers with you all.

Cynthia W. Williams

Grant Bobbitt

October 10, 2019

Gramma. Gramma. Gramma.
Love. Love. Love.
I love you.

Julia Davic

October 10, 2019

The Glausser Sisters: Donna, Suzanne and Robin with mother, Dorothy on a sunny Easter Day at their home on Wainbell in Dormont, Pgh, PA.

I found this photo and a piece of paper with the lyrics, 'ooh ooh child, things are gonna get easier' on a table next to my chair. Thank you, Mom! 💕

Dawn Dasher

October 7, 2019

Donna was an incredible leader and human being. She believed in people and dedicated her life to serving children and families. Her work at Head Start was simply incredible. Under her leadership, the program grew from 6 sites to 20. She believed in helping the less fortunate and in engaging parents in all aspects of the program. Among her many accomplishments, she partnered with Pinellas County Head Start to initiate a Male Involvement Program. She was instrumental in bringing the Early Head Start Program to Hillsborough County. Her work was recognized nationally. Again, under her leadership, the program was recognized as a National Program of Excellence as well as one of the 40 Greatest Grantee Programs in the nation. With there being thousands of Head Start programs nationally, this is quite a recogition! She partnered with Hillsborough Community College, the University of South Florida and the School District of Hillsborough County to ensure services for families were available across the county. She encouraged creativity with her employees, ensured diversity among her staff, and loved to celebrate success. Finally, she consistently shepherded the program through four consecutive federal reviews with no findings. These reviews involved validating the implementation of over 1700 regulations.

She was a fantastic mentor and a wonderful friend. She had the patience to listen to everyone that needed a moment. If one were to fret about a situation, she would say "Just sit on the bank of the river and wait." She was kind and funny. She was a fantastic writer and was published. She loved her family and always made time to host holiday get-togethers.

I am honored to have worked with her and to call her a friend. I will miss her, but I am at peace knowing that she truly earned her wings. My deepest condolences to the family and to all who have had the pleasure of sharing space with this incredible woman. God Bless.

Julia Davic

October 4, 2019

I love you, Mom. Watched Doc Martin and Midsomer and laughed, and laughed. Premier was the best Doc Martin, ever and I am glad we watched it together last week. I will wear my British cop costume tomorrow for our birthday and binge watch Ladies of Letters and Vera. I miss you. Here you are in your costume on our birthday in 2017, my all time favorite photo.