When I was growing up, a popular column in the monthly Reader’s Digest was “The Most Unforgettable Character I Ever Met.” I was reminded of that last month when I learned of Elizabethe Hall’s passing. As reflected by the hundreds of people at Elizabethe’s funeral, she defined “unforgettable characters.”
Elizabethe was ageless, which is why the news of her sudden passing, the day after Christmas, was stunning to her family and friends. Indeed, she had been serving meals at a community celebration just days before. I always called Elizabethe “the Mayor of Lacy Boulevard” since she was the go-to person whenever there was an issue or event of interest to her historic African-American community. Elizabethe grew up in Falls Church, moved to Bailey’s Crossroads upon her marriage to Edward H. Hall in 1949, where she raised four children. Mourners noted that she raised many other children, too, with her indomitable and generous spirit. Everyone knew and loved Elizabethe.
A federal employee for nearly 40 years, Elizabethe created a second career as a Fairfax County employee at the Bailey’s Community Center for the past 20-plus years. Although her position was part-time, little happened at the Center that didn’t have Elizabethe’s stamp on it. She was the first to greet you at the reception desk, the first to make sure that everything was in order for whatever program was underway, the first to offer a plate for hundreds of meals served as part of Center celebrations.
She had an uncanny sense of right and wrong, and never hesitated to tell you what she thought. Once you were her friend, you were a friend forever. She was true, generous and wickedly funny. Her love for her family and her community was legendary, and her zest for life was boundless. She was a community activist and civic leader who fought tenaciously for what is right. An early member of Black Women United for Action (BWUFA), and a longtime member of the NAACP, Elizabethe was an election official at the Bailey’s precinct. She had a hearty hug for nearly every voter, and worked tirelessly to ensure that candidates knew about her African-American community and its unique challenges.
Elizabethe was always “on,” but there never was artifice. Her love was boundless; her enthusiasm real and contagious. Her affinity for fabulous wigs, big earrings, and animal prints simply made her larger than life. Elizabethe always had a smile on her face, and I can hear her now, telling us what to do, or what we should do. She never stopped raising “children,” no matter the age. Elizabethe is survived by her children — Eric, Elana, Edwina and Erica — and a host of family and friends. Elizabethe would have been 90 in July but, as I noted earlier, she was ageless…and unforgettable.
Note: Last week’s column discussed elder financial abuse and potential identity theft issues. In addition to the Federal Trade Commission’s Identity Theft website, the non-profit Identity Theft Resource Center can be contacted at www.idtheftcenter.org, or call toll-free at 888-400-5530.