Ann Lois Eley Riddick

Published 11:36 am Thursday, January 17, 2013

MURFREESBORO – Ann Lois Eley Riddick, or as friends affectionately called her, Ann Lois or Miss Ann, was born on March 14, 1952, the fourth of six children to Fred and Iris Deans Eley in Murfreesboro, NC.

She attended Riverview Elementary School and was somewhat of a tomboy. She joined Murfreesboro First Baptist Church at an early age and became very active in ministry, singing in the choir, participating in programs, and taught Sunday School throughout her teen years.

Ann Lois also liked to play basketball and was pretty good at it. She won MVP awards in her junior and senior years at Murfreesboro High School, prior to graduating in 1970. She was among the first African Americans to graduate from MHS.

In April 1971, Ann Lois had a medical procedure to remove a brain tumor, something she used to inspire and motivate others to overcome some of life’s difficulties later in her life.

She moved to Maryland, married her first love, Johnie Riddick Sr., and became pregnant. The doctor told her the baby would likely miscarry. She replied by saying, “If God didn’t want me to have this baby, he would not have let me get pregnant.” In December of 1971, she had a beloved son, John-John.

Always the entrepreneur, Ann Lois worked several jobs before settling with the U.S. Department of Defense where she worked for five years.

Eventually, Ann Lois separated and a few years after she returned to 300 Diamond Street in Murfreesboro. She earned an Associate Degree in Early Childhood Education from Roanoke-Chowan Community College in 1987. While a student there, raising a teenager and selling shoes, she became the Vice President and later President of the Student Government Association. She also served as a Trustee at RCCC from 1985-87 as well as the eastern division chairperson for the regional collegiate Student Government Associations.

She worked in a host of areas, all of which involved education, children and adults as an Outreach Coordinator for the Albemarle Regional Library; and substitute teaching, just to name a few.

In 1992, Ann Lois earned a Bachelor’s degree from Elizabeth City State University in Sociology. Not long after graduating she began to pursue her own outreach ventures and created several programs involving literacy, pregnancy counseling for teens, and financial counseling/budgeting and basic life skills to residents in rural areas. Some of the organizations she contracted with included 4H, North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service, regional health departments, FEMA and the town of Murfreesboro among others.

Her pet project and life’s work was also vested in her collection of African American historical memorabilia that is the centerpiece of the annual African American Cultural Festival that she founded in 1998.

Her legacy also lives on through the creation of the Reverend George Thomas and Louvenia Baker Rouson Lecture series at Chowan University in Murfreesboro that was created through a joint venture with the town of Murfreesboro, Chowan University, Murfreesboro Historical Association, and her sister, Alice Eley Jones.

She was called home on January 2, 2013, but leaves to cherish fond memories: one son, John Riddick of Durham; her parents, Fred Eley Sr. and Iris Eley of Ahoskie; one brother, Herbert C. Eley of Murfreesboro; three sisters, Alice Eley Jones and Staff Sgt. (Retired) Jackie L. Eley, both of Murfreesboro, and April E. Jackson of Oxen Hill, MD; two nephews, James Troy Eley of Murfreesboro and Freddie DeWorken-Eley of Santa Clara, CA; a niece, Devona Myrick (Dominique) of Chesapeake, VA; a great aunt, Ruby Mae Obie of Murfreesboro; her former husband, Johnie Riddick St.; and a host of other relatives and friends. She is preceded by her brother, Fred D. Eley Jr.

In tribute to his mother, Johnie Riddick Jr. will write a book on African American memorabilia with his Aunt Alice and establish a permanent museum to house Ann Lois’ collection.

A memorial service was held on Sunday, January 13, 2013 at First Baptist Church Murfreesboro.

For those individuals that Ann was assisting with their financial records, please contact Alice Eley Jones at 398-5098 or Jackie Eley at 398-3942.