Our thoughts and prayers go out to Jennifer Ator’s family including husband Bill Tallman and her sons, Avery and Mason. May the Lord give them the strength they need during this difficult time. Jennifer was a very positive person with a kind heart. She was a very nice lady. The following obituary was provided by Bill Tallman:
Former Miami Springs Councilwoman Jennifer Jean Ator passed away peacefully on Monday morning, January 3, 2022 following a multiyear battle with early-onset dementia. She was 50.
A fierce advocate for her law clients, and a fearless leader in her service life, Jennifer was also a warm and loving wife and mother who worked to build community all around her, and succeeded.
Jennifer was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota on June 3, 1971 to Donald Charles Ator and Pamela Jane Hillery. She attended South Plantation High School (class of 1989) and received her B.A. in English from Stetson University in 1993. She taught in the Broadcast Arts Magnet Program at Pompano Beach Middle School before returning to law school, earning her J.D. from the Shepard Broad Law Center at Nova Southeastern University in 1997, where she served as Associate Editor for the ILSA Journal of International and Comparative Law.
As an attorney, she represented both plaintiffs and defendants in commercial and employment litigation matters in state and federal court. She was also a Florida Supreme Court Certified Civil Circuit and County Court mediator, handling all types of litigation matters.
Jennifer was a defender of the vulnerable, was intolerant of intolerant people, and did not suffer fools. She expected and required integrity and honesty of those around her, and she never missed an opportunity to speak truth to power, or to hold anyone – herself included – accountable. A graduate of the inaugural class of University of Miami’s Good Government Initiative, she derived great satisfaction from the results of thoughtful, loving, and dedicated service to her community and numerous community and service organizations.
A partial list of these includes Zeta Tau Alpha International women’s fraternity, the John Macdonald Chapter of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Miami Springs Woman’s Club, the American Bar Association, the Florida Bar, the Dade County Bar, where she was a past president of the Young Lawyers’ Section, and a past Chair of the Minority Bar Passage Project, and the Culpepper Journalism Foundation. She was also an active supporter of her husband’s fraternity, serving as Legal Advisor to the Delta Chi Educational Foundation. Her final act of service will be to the Brain Endowment Bank at University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine, in furtherance of neurological research.
Jennifer was the beneficiary of a strong upbringing, and a host of mentors, and she attempted to pay that forward by seeking out lifting up those around her at every opportunity.
Her proudest achievements were her sons, Avery, 19 and Mason, 16. After their birth she modified her law practice to afford her time to engage with them and their activities. She served as the founding Board Chair for All Angels Academy, where both boys graduated, and attended countless recitals, rehearsals, performances, games, and practices with joy. She was an avid fan of NCAA men’s and women’s basketball, especially “March Madness,” and she loved to bake things, whether in celebration of an occasion, as a fundraiser or “just because.”
Preceded in death by her father and her uncles John Hillery and Bill Evans, Jennifer is survived by her husband Bill Tallman and sons Avery and Mason of Miami Springs, FL, her mother Pamela Hillery Ator of Black Mountain, NC, sister Rev. Sara Ator Wilcox (Jeff) of Asheville, NC, uncle David Hillery of Annapolis, MD, aunt Carolyn Evans of Streator, IL, uncle Richard Ator of Lime Springs, IA, and three beautiful and strong nieces, Anna and Ella Wilcox, and Natalie Uhrig, as well as numerous beloved cousins.
Memorial services will be scheduled at a later date when a larger in-person gathering is less risky. Jennifer enjoyed parties far too much to be satisfied with a virtual gathering.
In lieu of flowers, her family suggests that the best way to honor Jennifer is to stop what you’re doing right now, take a few minutes and reach out to someone with a word of gratitude, love, or encouragement. That’s what Jennifer would do.