Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Epilogue | Monta L. Tourtelot

Monta Tourtelot loved sales, music, friends and family

ST. PETERSBURG — When Monta L. Tourtelot was a girl growing up in Alabama during the Great Depression, she sold canned soap door do door. And in her free time, she played piano.

Her work and her play both made sense during a time when money was tight for a family with eight kids. She would later say the only sweets her family could afford were wild sand pears, which the family gathered, canned and spread over toasted, buttered bread.

"She sold soap door to door because she knew she had to, because there was a family waiting for the money she earned," said Dorothy King, one of her three daughters.

Also, King said, "they all learned to play piano just by teaching themselves because that was the only entertainment they had."

Sales and music stayed with her. She became a real estate saleswoman when it was rare, and went to work for the Tourtelot real estate firm, where she met her future husband, Jack Tourtelot. She also continued to play piano into her 90s, even when macular degeneration had taken most of her eyesight away.

"She'd sit down at the piano and play for us without any music, just remembering. She was just dynamic," said her friend Ede Livingstone, 88. She particularly liked playing hymns such as Great Is Thy Faithfulness, What a Friend We Have in Jesus and It Is Well With My Soul.

She was divorced from her first husband in the 1940s and moved to Florida with two of her three daughters. In the late 1940s she had a job selling old Army barracks that had been vacated after World War II. People bought them, and had them set up on lots in St. Petersburg.

Mrs. Tourtelot was quoted in a 1961 Times article that began: "Have you ever wondered whether or not you could be a successful real estate woman?" Three others were quoted saying women could make between $3,000 to $8,000 per year in the field. Mrs. Tourtelot said: "In my first year when I was an eager beaver, and worked 16 hours a day, I sold 53 homes and made $15,000."

In her spare time she loved gardening, and grew roses, green peppers, papayas, bananas, figs and more. She continued playing music. She and her four sisters would sometimes go to conventions of amateur organ players, all dressed alike, and play together.

She never felt she was fully dressed if she wasn't wearing red, King said. She also played bridge, and enjoyed eating out with friends. She also remained close to her sisters, often calling them at midnight or later, knowing they would be up for conversation too, King said.

Mrs. Tourtelot died at her home on Wednesday, at age 97.

>>Biography

Monta L. Tourtelot

Born: Nov. 1, 1912.

Died: June 23, 2010.

Survivors: Daughters Frankye Brooks and Dorothy King; sisters Wanda Nealy, Iris Trovaioli, and Geraldine "Gerry" Simonetti; 10 grandchildren; and 11 great-grandchildren.

Service: 2 p.m. Tuesday, Anderson-McQueen Funeral Home, 2201 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St. N.

Monta Tourtelot loved sales, music, friends and family 06/25/10 [Last modified: Friday, June 25, 2010 9:13pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Florida's 'Turtle God' is ailing. What happens to his remarkable collection of specimens?

    Wildlife

    OVIEDO — In a small town about five miles from the University of Central Florida there stands a two-story yellow house built in the 1920s. A modest sign mounted on the wall next to the front door says, "Chelonian Research Institute."

    The main room at the Chelonian Institute in Oviedo Florida. - Peter Pritchard sounds British but he's lived in Florida for five decades, running the Chelonian Institute in Oviedo Florida, which holds the world's largest collection of turtle specimens (some of them bones or shells, some of them live turtles or tortoises). Time magazine has declared him a hero of the planet and other turtle experts say he is to turtles what Dian Fossey was to gorillas. He's been instrumental in helping other species, too, including the Florida panther. He has traveled the world studying turtles.
  2. Regulator blasts Wells Fargo for deceptive auto insurance program

    Banking

    Wells Fargo engaged in unfair and deceptive practices, failed to properly manage risks and hasn't set aside enough money to pay back the customers it harmed, according to a confidential report by federal regulators.

    Wells Fargo engaged in unfair and deceptive practices, failed to properly manage risks and hasn't set aside enough money to pay back the customers it harmed, according to a confidential report by federal regulators.
[Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images, 2017]
  3. Top 5 at Noon: Police hunt killer 'terrorizing' Seminole Heights; Land swap could help bring Rays to Tampa

    Blogs

    Here are the top stories on Tampabay.com this afternoon.

    Aerial photo of Ybor City centered around Centro Ybor and 7th Avenue. Hoping to assemble the land for a ballpark near Ybor City and the Channel District, Hillsborough County officials could government property with landowners there.
  4. McDonald's soft serve in Florida is made with handshakes and happy cows

    Consumer

    Floridians licked nine million McDonald's vanilla cones last year.

    Calves play with a rubber toy at the Milking R Dairy in Okeechobee, FL. Owners Sutton Rucks, Jr., and his wife Kris Rucks sell their milk to SouthEast Dairies cooperative, Edward Coryn of Dairy Mix in St. Petersburg buys it, transforms it into soft-serve ice cream base, and sells it to all the McDonald's. SCOTT KEELER   |   Times

  5. Florida football has become something to be endured, not enjoyed

    College

    The Jim McElwain era at Florida is something to be endured, not enjoyed.

    Florida Gators defensive lineman Khairi Clark (54) leaves the field after the Florida Gators game against Texas A&M, at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, in Gainesville, Fla. The Florida Gators lost to the Texas A&M Aggies 17-16 MONICA HERNDON   |   Times
.