Ethel Elaine Mace
Ethel Elaine Mace
Source: Claretta Sullivan, Beverly Brown
Life, for Ethel Elaine Mace, has been very interesting and full of adventure.
God, Christian community and family has always been at the center of that adventure. Growing up in the segregated South in the 1930’s and 40’s in the hill country of Mississippi was not easy. In the words of Langston Hughes: “Life for me has been no crystal stair, It’s had tacks in it, and splinters, and boards torn up, and places with no carpet on the floor, but all the time, I’ve been climbing, and reaching landings and turning corners and sometimes going on in the dark, where there has been no light….so no turning back.”
Ethel Elaine is one of twelve children born to George and Esther Mace. She is the ninth child and youngest daughter. And one of her most prominent childhood memories is that of Poppa’s chair where he would retire in the evenings. If Poppa’s chair could talk, it could not even begin to tell the many things she would experience in her lifetime. She loved to sit on his lap admiring his face with her twin nieces, Mary and Martha sitting on the wooden arms swinging their legs on both sides. She had that chair restored some years ago and it remains in the family as one of our most cherished heirlooms.
Education has always been important for her family. Her mom and dad passed when she was incredibly young. And even as she relied on her older brothers and sisters for her care and well-being, she also developed a strong work ethic and a fierce sense of independence. She attended Southern Christian Institute (SCI) for High School and Junior College in Edwards, MS, Jarvis Christian College in Hawkins, TX, where she was Miss Jarvis, and she received her master’s degree in elementary education from Ball State University in Muncie, IN. Her passion for travel and leadership led her to become a lifetime member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority.
Her calling was deeply rooted in education. Perhaps this was most apparent when she lived in England and taught in the school system there for a year in an international exchange program. Throughout her tenure in the Indianapolis school system, she was affectionately known as Ms. Mace. She received accolades for her teaching style, teaching 1st graders for over 40 years. She broke barriers teaching at risk students, and after semi-retiring she remained a substitute teacher until the age of 82 when her teaching career ended.
Family has always been especially important. Upon entering her 40’s she decided to adopt a child and became Indianapolis’ first single parent to do so. Her daughter Kim has been the pride and joy of her life and they have shared many adventures as mother and daughter.
With great energy and persistence, she started the George and Esther Mace Educational Scholarship Fund to provide assistance to family members continuing their educational pursuits. Her Godchildren: Traci, Tori, Tahari, Troy and Justin love her dearly and have great affection for their Aunt Ethel.
“Life for me has been no crystal stair…. but all the time, I’ve been climbing, and reaching landings and turning corners and sometimes going on in the dark where there is no light.”