Estelle Williams Waters (née Estelle Mae Williams) was born on July 12, 1928 in Wilmington, DE. She transitioned on November 8, 2020 in Toms River, NJ at the age of 92.
She was the fifth child of Walter Sinclair, Sr. and Mildred Lee Williams. Her eight siblings were Harry, William, Frances, Mildred, Walter, Jr., Ruby, Doris, and Richard (Allen). All except Allen have pre-deceased her. Her maternal grandparents were Mr. and Mrs. Jarvis Cooper of Pondtown, MD, and her paternal grandparents were Mr. and Mrs. Henry Williams of Wilmington, formerly from Vidalia, GA. Estelle was named after her paternal grandmother, Estella Fulwood Williams. She was called “Stella” as a child.
Estelle was a quintessential young lady who grew up during the Great Depression with ambitions of becoming a nurse. Some said that her ambitions were unrealistic for a poor black girl to wish for in the middle of this country’s worst economic downturn, but she proved them wrong with her awesome determination and drive.
Some of her closest friends were Adrian Robinson, Sarah Selby, and Virginia (Anderson) Robinson, who supported her efforts. Even the proprietors of the local grocery stores donated to the cause. To help herself and her family financially during those exceedingly difficult times, she took on all sorts of part-time jobs in the community. For instance, she became a newspaper delivery girl, circulating the Baltimore Afro-American and the Pittsburgh Courier Newspapers throughout the Black community, wearing her trademark knickers, and riding a bike.
She was also highly active in St. James A.U.M.P. Church and the YWCA. In that fashion, everyone became acquainted with the serious young student who was determined to be a nurse so that she could help to relieve the pain and suffering among our people.
She was loved by everyone. She attended Howard High School in Wilmington, DE and graduated with high honors. That qualified Estelle for a full scholarship which she won, against stiff competition and cultural barriers, to the St. Agnes School of Nursing on the campus of St. Augustine’s College in Raleigh, NC. That was facilitated by Father Horsey, Vicar of St. Stephens Episcopal Church, which she had joined and where she volunteered while in high school.
She received both an R.N. (Registered Nurse) and a bachelor’s degree from St. Agnes and St. Augustine’s. Proud mother Mildred had the event placed in the newspapers for all to read. It was there in nursing school that she met two of her lifelong friends, Mary Edmond (Singletary), R.N., and Rose Chippey, R.N. After graduation, they all received nursing assignments in Chillicothe, Ohio, and they began their nursing careers there.
After a few years in Ohio, Estelle was drawn back to the east coast. She took a nursing job in Newark, NJ Beth Israel Hospital. It was there that she demonstrated her leadership and teaching skills by becoming an instructor at the School of Nursing, as well as the Chief Surgical Nurse at Newark Beth Israel Hospital. She worked with some of the country’s best surgeons, including Drs. Victor Parsonette and Sam Diener.
She was extremely popular and forged enduring friendships with other nurses. When she bought her first car, a rather curious one called a Studebaker, many people said that it looked the same from the front as from the rear, and it was hard to tell whether it was coming or going! She looked so chic when driving it. It was during that time that she met the love of her life, Alfred Waters, Sr. He was a handsome, impeccably dressed, quietly suave businessman from Newark, NJ. Estelle and Alfred were married, and the next chapter of her life began. They bought a charming home in East Orange, NJ and had two children, Donna and Stuart.
The Waters family was deeply religious and became members of Bethany Baptist Church, pastored by the legendary Rev. William Hayes, where Alfred was a Deacon. Along with her husband, Alfred, Estelle became the spiritual leader of the entire family and was repeatedly called upon for advice and guidance in medical, financial, social, educational, and many other matters. She was widely respected for her wisdom, knowledge, integrity, moral and ethical values, neatness, cleanliness, punctuality, and other personal qualities.
From a physical standpoint, of all the children, she was the one who most resembled her mother, Mildred, which is part of the reason that she was Mom’s favorite. Her beauty was outstanding, and one can never forget those dimples, the expressive eyes, and her bright smile. In addition, as nephew Brian Roundtree reminds us, her diction was very precise and her voice very memorable. She always got your attention with her voice, which was so distinct and correct. She could use that voice to praise you for your good actions or straighten you out if you got out of line!
Estelle and Alfred moved to Toms River, NJ in 2000 after their children left home. It was there that she resided until the end of her days. Alfred Waters preceded her in death in 2005.
Estelle was fortunate to be a member of the congregation of Macedonia Baptist Church in Lakewood, NJ, pastored by Rev. Dr. Edward Harper. Reverend Harper visited her each week with his wife, Virginia, bringing her groceries, medical supplies, and providing much needed moral support for this courageous widow and independent warrior who lived alone. She was also visited every weekend by her children and grandchildren from over 100 miles away, which was an unequalled sacrifice which she appreciated.
So as we prepare for the funeral rites for our dearly departed sister, mother, grandmother, daughter, aunt, cousin, and friend, let us mourn with a sense of celebration the loss of this most elegant and distinguished lady whose spirit will be with us eternally. She leaves behind all the following family members: children, Donna Roberts (Derrick, Sr.), Stuart Rashad (Lori); grandchildren, Miranda, Derrick, Jr., Marcus Roberts, Stuart II, Tariq, Siddiq, and Amir Rashad; great-grandchildren, Kemari Gillison, Amirah and Sahir Rashad, and Autumn Roberts; brother, Dr. Richard Allen Williams, MD; and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends.
We will all meet again in the afterlife. May God rest her soul.
Prepared with consummate love by a grateful and bereaved brother, Dr. Richard Allen Williams.
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