Ellyn Ferguson Walters leaves a legacy of lifetime community involvement
By Staff writer
Ellyn F. Walters quietly passed away after a long illness. During her career, she left a legacy of touching many lives that will be long remembered by school, church and community. Ellyn was an ordinary person who has done extraordinary things as a community activist; mother, grandmother, soror, and friend.
Ellyn’s tenacity, strong will and determination go back to her youth. Ellyn was the eighth child born to the late Joseph Sr. and Rosetta Baskin Ferguson in Alachua County, Florida. Ellyn came to Broward County at the age of four to join her extended family after the demise of her biological mother. She was raised her Aunt, Ethel Warren.
She attributes her steadfastness and resolve to the late Ethel M. Warren (an aunt who became mother) and a guardian whom she refers to affectionately as Mother Annie T. Reed. Ethel Warren was a Deerfield Beach pioneer, who arrived in Deerfield in 1922. Annie T. Reed was also an early settler who came to Fort Lauderdale and worked many years for the Stranahans.
Ellyn grew up in St. Paul United Methodist Church in Deerfield Beach. While there, she served as Secretary of the Epworth League (MYF) as a Sunday school teacher. Ellyn transferred her membership to St. John United Methodist Church when she entered Dillard High School. As an adult, she assumed leadership roles in her church and civic organizations.
After graduating from FAMU with a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education, Ellyn returned to St John United Methodist Church. She served on the trustee board, chaired Administrative Council, Secretary of Charge Conference, Chairwoman of the Pastor Parish Relations, Historian, Lay Leader and special programs and youth activities.
Ellyn has been associated with the Friends of the Von D. Mizell Library since 1976. She became president in 1981 and has faithfully served in this capacity until 2002. Over the past 36 years it has not always been easy keeping a group of Friends interested in supporting the library staff’s programs and activities.
As the Executive Chair of the Community Fundraising Committee, Ellyn led a dynamic volunteer group of community leaders to achieve a contribution of over $700,000 toward the construction of the African American Research Library and Cultural Center (AARLCC).
One of her most cherished honors was the dedication of the Ellyn F. Walters Conference Room at the AARLCC. Some of her other honors and awards are the Friends of the AARLCC Lifetime Achievers Award; Kappa Alpha Psi Outstanding Servant Leader Award; United Nations Broward County Chapter Distinguished Service Award; March of Dimes Women of Distinction Award; and Broward County Commission Ellyn F. Walters Appreciation Day. Besides being listed in African American Leadership for the State of Florida and Broward County, Mrs. Walters also has the distinction of having two scholarships named in her honor-one funded through Alexis Harris State Farm Agency and the other through her beloved Zeta Phi Beta Sorority.
A graduate of Dillard High School, Ellyn has received her alma mater’s Reunion Task Force Honor Award and has been inducted into its Hall of Fame. Ellyn has a Bachelor of Science from Florida A & M University and is a member of the FAMU Alumni Broward County Chapter. Mrs. Walters was an active member of St. John United Methodist Church and has received a Leadership Award for her service in various capacities. She is one of seven charter members of the Delta Eta Zeta Chapter of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc, and past President of the local chapter, co-sponsor of the first African American Debutante Cotillion in Broward County Charter Member and Past President of the National Association of Negro Business and Professionals Women’s Clubs; Past President of the Northwest Democratic Club.
During the 41 years Ellyn served as a teacher, she reached out to her community. Because of her leadership skills and willingness to serve, she became a member of the YMCA THINK BANK, the Black Coalition, and the Enrichment Child Center Advisory Board. She served as Vice President and Secretary of the Central Broward Democratic Club. She assisted in the election campaign for former City Commissioner Andrew DeGraffenreidt, and was involved in many activities for former State Representative Bill Clark.
Although she enjoyed serving her community, her real joy came from the cherished time she spent with her family and friends. Ellyn F. Walters’s leadership and community service endeavors will always be remembered as one of the pillars of the AARLCC and the entire Broward County community.
Ellyn was married to the late Matt “Bud” Walters for 39 years prior to his demise in1991. Left behind to cherish her precious memories are two children Karen W. Blount (Vernon) and Matt J. Walters II; a special daughter Gloria Payton; two granddaughters, Monika A. Blount and Morgan A. Blount; brothers RTC Pearl L. Ferguson, Joseph Ferguson, Minneapolis, MN., nieces, Ellyn B. Ferguson, LeNelda Woodard, Lanetra Brooks, Constance Hall, Shirley Oliver.
Wake – Thursday, Sept. 13 6 to 9 p.m. African-American Research Library and Cultural Center, 2650 Sistrunk Blvd., Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Funeral Services Friday, Sept. 14, at 1 p.m., Saint John United Methodist Church, 1520 N.W. Fifth St., Fort Lauderdale, Fla Repass at St. Christopher’s Episcopal Church, 318 N.W. Sixth Ave., Fort Lauderdale, Fla.