Eva Speight, 81, who taught English in Washington public schools from 1962 to 1994 and continued working as a substitute teacher through recent months, died of cardiac arrest July 28 at the Specialty Hospital of Washington.

The death was confirmed by a daughter, Thomara B. Speight.

Mrs. Speight, a District resident, spent much of her early career at Sousa Junior High School and retired from Eastern High School. She directed the gifted and talented programs at Sousa and Eastern. In retirement, she was a substitute teacher at Eastern and Wilson high schools.

Eva Mae Bess was a native of LaGrange, N.C., and a 1957 English graduate of North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro.

She received community honors for her extensive school and civic work. Among many memberships and leadership roles, she was a past president of the Penn-Branch citizens association and a past president of a Washington chapter of the Phi Delta Kappa education association.

She was an officer with the Delta Sigma Theta sorority and founding president of Delta Towers, a housing complex for seniors in Washington.

Her first marriage, to Alton Davis, ended in divorce. Survivors include her husband of 49 years, James T. Speight Jr. of Washington; a daughter from her first marriage, who was adopted by James Speight Jr., Sharon Blake of Washington; two children from her second marriage, Thomara B. Speight of Clinton and James T. Speight III of Accokeek; three sisters; and two brothers, including John Best of Brandywine; and five grandchildren.

— Adam Bernstein