Elizabeth A. (Waller) Hill, 93, beloved wife of the late Ellis Hill, passed away peacefully in the comfort of her home, surrounded by her loving family on Thursday, May 19, 2022. Born and raised in Worcester, she was a daughter of the late William James and Lee-Etta (Brown) Waller.
Born in Worcester, in 1929 – the year of the Great Depression, she often quipped, “I was born when the stock market crashed, that’s how lucky I am!” Despite the times, Elizabeth lived a full life. She loved reading, listening to jazz music, cooking and using all the latest gadgets like her George Foreman Grill and her Fry Baby. Most of all she loved playing hymns on the organ and the piano, a skill acquired from a close relative.
She graduated from Commerce High School then would return to Becker Junior College where she enrolled in typing classes to increase her job market viability. Despite her education, at the time, downtown companies only hired African Americans in menial entry-level positions. Always a very hard worker, Elizabeth persevered. She would work several jobs, one of the first as elevator operator in the Denholm building, and some retail work before landing at the Norton Company where she would retire some 16 years later.
Elizabeth, affectionately known throughout the community as “Aunt Betty,” devoted her life to the John Street Baptist Church where since the age of 16 she played the piano and sang soprano as a member of the choir. Throughout the years, the choir reached a level of acclaim and they traveled near and far gracing others with their music.
Her fondest memories were of singing in the big choirs and meeting all the people and traveling to different places. The Choir sang in almost every church in Worcester. Her favorite memory was traveling to North Carolina with many of her dear friends, among them Louella Ross and Gloria. “The sounds of all of those people and singing in that great big church with the stained-glass windows. Those people came from all around. The choir director said she could hear the different accents. Even as we joined together, collaborating on hymns, negro spirituals and other church songs, many voices stood out depending on where you were from.”
Aunt Betty would often be found at the Church in the soup kitchen where she volunteered handing out food, clothing, and small gifts of grace and kindness to others in remembrance of her own upbringing. She often said, “We didn’t have much, but my grandmother made sure we had what we needed,” a creed she lived by.
At John Street Baptist Church, Aunt Betty was also a member of the Virtuous Women’s Group where along with many of her dear friends, she served in the ministry sending greeting cards for all events and happenings.
Aunt Betty will be lovingly missed and remembered by her two sisters, Constance Anderson, and Barbara Waller, both of Worcester; her nephew, Darrell Waller with whom she lived and many nieces and nephews. In addition to her parents, she was predeceased by her brothers, Pvt. William J. Waller, Jr., John H. Waller, Howard Waller, David A. Waller, and George Waller; and her two sisters, Nancy L. Waller, and Joan G. Waller.
A graveside service honoring her life will be held at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, June 1 at Hope Cemetery, 119 Webster Street, Worcester where she will be laid to rest beside her beloved husband. Dinner to follow at the John Street Baptist church, 43 John Street Worcester, 01609.
Arrangements are under the care of Kelly Cremation and Funeral Care, 154 Lincoln Street, Worcester. In lieu of flowers please make donations to the John Street Baptist Church Soup Kitchen.