Phebean Ogundipe, nee Itayemi, was born in Esa-Oke, Osun (Formerly Oyo) state in Nigeria on May 6th, 1927. She had her elementary education in Esa-oke and Imesi-Ile. She attended Queen’s College, Yaba, Lagos on a full scholarship for her secondary education and then proceeded to University of St Andrews, Scotland to obtain her degree in English (M.A. Hons).
Upon completion of her studies, she pursued a career in education. She started her career in the Federal Ministry of Education. In service to the ministry of education, she served in different schools as an English teacher. While on assignment to teach English, at Queen’s College, Ede, she met her soon-to-be-husband, Adebayo Ogundipe. Other notable roles she served in were Deputy Chief Federal Adviser on Education, National Secretary for UNESCO and she was the Acting Director in the Federal Ministry of Education at the time of her retirement.
Her passion for English education in children inspired her to author many children’s story books that emphasized morals. She also thought that children needed to be properly taught the English language. This desire birthed the well-known books, Brighter Grammar (for elementary school) and Practical English (for junior and senior secondary schools). Upon retirement from public service, she co-founded a remedial educational institution, Top Tutors. In 1979 she received the National Honor of Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON). In addition, in 2019, she funded the building of the N30m+ multi-purpose Itayemi Hall in Esa-oke Grammar School.
She enthusiastically shared her love of literary and performing arts, cooking, languages, traveling, world cultures and needlework with all. She was hard-working well past retirement, continuing revisions to her renowned English textbooks as well as lending her editing skills to friends and family free of charge. Seven years shy of a century of life, she was the blessed mother of four sons and ten grandchildren. She was an adopted mother and grandmother as well to many others, and renowned for her generosity and selflessness. She will be greatly missed.