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1934 Eunice 2022

Eunice Ngit Kwai Tom Whitaker

May 2, 1934 — October 29, 2022

Eunice passed away peacefully surrounded by family on October 29, 2022. Born on May 2, 1934, in Makawao, (Maui) Hawaii, she was the only child of Lillian Lee and Edwin Kwock Wo Tom. Eunice was a third-generation Chinese American whose grandparents emigrated from Canton, China during the First Sino-Japanese War. She lived in Honolulu, Hawaii through her sophomore year at The University of Hawaii-Manoa Teachers’ College, then transferred to the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, where she earned a B.A. in Elementary Education.

Eunice met her husband of over 53 years, The Rev. Dr. Robert “Bob” H Whitaker, while he was Chaplain of U of M’s Episcopal student center, Canterbury House. After Eunice’s graduation, she and Bob were married in 1956 at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Ann Arbor. Initially they made their home in Mount Clemens, and later moved to Grosse Pointe Woods to raise their family of three daughters: Maria, Monica, and Martha.

Eunice learned hula and ballet as a young girl and had her first ballet performance as a teenager at the local YWCA. As an adult, she studied modern dance (à la Martha Graham) at Wayne State University and performed liturgical dance with the Festival Dancers of Metropolitan Detroit, and the Church of the Messiah, Detroit.

Eunice taught Sunday School modern dance for children at Christ Church Grosse Pointe, and elementary students at Grosse Pointe Academy. After earning a M.A. in Special Education from The University of Detroit in 1975, she taught remedial reading and ESL in the Detroit Public Schools, and later was a substitute teacher for Albuquerque Public Schools.

From 1972 to 1984, she was founder, choreographer, and dancer for Les Papillons (The Butterflies), a multi-generational liturgical dance group that performed at Grosse Pointe Presbyterian Church and many churches in southeast and central Michigan. From 1978 to 1984, Eunice belonged to an Israeli dance club, Galai Ha Ruach (Waves of the Wind), that performed traditional circle and line dances at bar and bat mitzvahs, weddings, and ethnic festivals throughout southeastern Michigan. After she and Bob retired to Corrales, New Mexico, Eunice taught low-impact aerobics and water aerobics. She learned ballroom dancing (waltz, fox trot, tango, rumba, cha-cha, samba, and salsa), and performed in regional dance competitions.

For most of her adult life Eunice enjoyed the companionship of cats, especially Siamese. Occasionally she cared for feral cats as well as her own indoor cats, and advocated for the humane treatment of all animals.

Eunice is survived by her daughters Maria, Monica, Martha (James Leenhouts), grandchildren Isabella Broglia (Kyle), Rachel Mei Lee Whitaker, Robert Thomas Leenhouts, cousin Glenda Lau, nephew Steve Ching, and stepsister Carol Devenot.

A memorial service will be held in La Vida Llena’s Carter Hall on Wednesday, January 4, 2023, at 1:00pm located at 10501 Lagrima de Oro Rd NE. She will be inurned next to her husband during a private Committal service at The Episcopal Cathedral of St John, Albuquerque. In lieu of flowers donations may be made in memory of Eunice N.K.T. Whitaker to St. Chad’s Episcopal Church-Albuquerque or American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).

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Wednesday, January 4, 2023

Starts at 1:00 pm (Mountain time)

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