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(Mary) Virginia (Wilson) Ellis (1916-1990)

Virginia Ellis
Virginia Ellis, 1997

(Mary) Virginia Wilson was born February 26, 1916 in Portsmouth, VA to Blanche Blake Wilson and Jeffrey T. Wilson. After her mother’s death in 1918, she was raised by her aunt Sylvia Blake Bynum, moving to Ann Arbor with the family in 1936. Mary Virginia Wilson married Ora Herbert Ellis on June 24, 1943 in Ypsilanti. After the marriage, she went by Virginia W. Ellis or Virginia Ellis. The couple had two sons, Herb Ellis Jr. and Jeffrey Ellis. 

Virginia W. Ellis was active in numerous organizations and boards within the community. She was a teacher, chairman of Washtenaw County March of Dimes, a chairman for the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners, and was actively involved in the Dunbar Center throughout her life. There, she held titles over the years such as Assistant Director to Douglas Williams, Director of Musical Activities and Program Director. Beginning in the early years of the Center, she directed groups such as the Dunbar Chorus, the Dunbar Quintet, tutored students in reading, writing, and math, and produced dance and music programs.

In 1979, Ellis founded the Ann Arbor chapter of Links, Inc., a national organization founded by and for Black women in 1946 to promote educational and enrichment programs for youths. Virginia Wilson Ellis passed away June 8, 1990, age 74, at the University of Michigan hospital after a long illness. 

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