Please note:The Family does not wish any flowers
A Life Dedicated to Friendship, Service & Social Justice
The Lord is the maker of them all”. Proverbs 22:2
Anna Ekpenyong, born Dianna Ruth Washington came into this world on February 9, 1925, to the late Rosabell (Deas) and John Washington. She was born in Charleston SC and raised in Pawleys Island, still of place of Gullah culture, by her grandparents. She was an only child, her younger brother died in childhood.
Anna graduated from Burke High School in Charleston the only public high school for Black students in the area. She then moved to Boston with her mother where she earned an Associate Degree as a Xray technician. She worked in this profession until she returned from Nigeria in 1970.
She married Joseph Johnson in 1946 and they lived in Cambridge and also had one child Genita. While in Cambridge she was an active member of Western Avenue Baptist Church, until around 1958 when she moved to Roxbury and joined Twelfth Baptist Church. In 1960 she married John Ekpenyong, a Nigerian attending Boston University. Following his graduation, the family moved to Nigeria in 1961.
Prior to moving to Nigeria, Anna attended La Newton School of Beauty Culture because there would be no one to do her hair when in Nigeria. The family lived in Enugu where the Regional government officials asked her to open the first cosmetology school in the region. They later moved to the University of Nigeria in Nsukka where she designed, established, and directed the first the Xray Department for the local hospital.
Anna’s inimitable spirit which attracted and engaged everyone, was shown by her departure from Nigeria in 1970. There were so many people to send her off, the airport officials asked, “Who is this dignitary”?
She was always involved in community and philanthropic work. When she returned from Nigeria, she renewed her involvement at Twelfth Baptist Church where she committed herself to several ministries focusing on helping people[gjv1] in need. For 20 years she served in the Ushers’ Ministry and co-coordinated bus trips to raise funds for the Church and the Ministry. The trips were so popular they once rented 3 buses. She also served as a driver in the Transportation Ministry for 13 years, driving the Seniors on their weekly shopping trips. She coordinated the Thrift Shop, The Clothes Rack, which continues to provide quality used and new clothing and other items at a minimal cost. As the first Coordinator of the TBC Food Pantry, she was well respected by the hunger relief community. In 2003 she was the poster child for The Greater Boston Food Bank and recognized at their annual Partner Appreciation Luncheon.
Anna joined the Federal Reserve Bank in 1971 working in Check Collection. While working there she helped with the fundraising efforts for United way, Toys for Tots and sold daffodils for the American Cancer Society. She retired in 1996.
In memory and to honor her mother she was initiated into the M. W. George Washington Carver Grand Lodge Order of the Eastern Star (OES) in 1976. Again, involved in volunteer work distributing free meals to those in need.
As a champion for social justice, she was active locally and nationally in the NAACP. She served as the Mystic Valley Area NAACP’s treasurer and chaired the Freedom Fund that hosts an annual breakfast fundraiser. Her commitment extended well beyond the local branch; she did not miss a National Convention for 15 years.
“When the planned venue for a branch meeting fell through at the last minute, it was Anna Ekpenyong who, on the spur of the moment, volunteered her home. When we planned a local food sale, Anna offered her home as the place to sell and cook the food. When we needed a place to cook the food for our Freedom Fund breakfast, it was Anna again who offered her home… Anna established her Committee as the best working Committee within the branch and year after year she and her Committee improved the Freedom Fund events, …In short, it is not possible for our branch to put on an event that Anna is not heavily involved in… It is because she always gives, never getting or expecting anything in return, other than the satisfaction of knowing she is working to maintain the NAACP locally that the award of Living Legend is so appropriate”. (2011 NEAC Living Legend Award introduction). Anna received the New England Area Conference (NEAC) Living Legend Award in 2011.
Anna was recognized again in 2013 with the Community Service Award as a Woman of Courage and Conviction by the Greater Boston Section of the National Council of Negro Woman.
As a woman of compassion, she saw a need and filled it. She co-founded Ebony Sisters, a multi-generational charity and social club 30 years ago. The Ebony Sisters have fun traveling and other activities, but also continue to raise funds for scholarships for high school students, baby showers for unwed mothers, Christmas donations to area Nursing Homes, etc.
Anna enjoyed her free time, loved to travel, and traveled to the 50 states with friends, some more than once. She also traveled to several countries in Europe and Southern Africa and enjoyed several cruises to the Caribbean and South America.
Friends knew they could count on her, for a ride to a meeting or the doctor or many other needs. She came from that tradition of sharing what you have with others, whether a good buy on fish or a box of tea she knew you liked.
The joys of Anna’s life were her granddaughter and daughter, both named Genita Johnson.
Despite all her many significant accomplishments, Anna remained deeply humble: in her presence, others felt accepted, loved, never judged, and always inspired.
She leaves to celebrate her life: her daughter, granddaughter, the Madrey and Robinson families, cousins the Jones family, her sister-in-law Jannie Johnson and son, Ebony Sisters, a host of friends and her church family.
She was guided by “Rich and poor have this in common: The Lord is the maker of them all”. Proverbs 22:2
PLEASE NOTE; The Family does not wish any flowers to be sent.