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Evelyn Williams Townsend


photo of Evelyn Williams Townsend

Evelyn Williams Townsend was born Dec. 27, 1922 in Bennettsville, South Carolina. She lived in Cambridge from 1955 until her death, February 15, 2008. She was an outstanding educator and community leader, who also worked tirelessly in Cambridge and the state of Maryland to preserve the legacy of Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad. For over twenty years, she served as president of the Harriet Tubman Museum and Educational Center, and secured at $50,000 grant to pay off the mortgage at the l4224 Race Street Building in Cambridge. Her dedication and commitment kept the story of Harriet Tubman alive for future generations.

Evelyn attended the public schools of Winston Salem, N.C. and after high school graduation, she earned a Bachelor of Science Degree (BS) from Winston Salem Teachers College and a Master's Degree from New York University, majoring in Early Childhood Development and Elementary School Administration. She continued her education at Morgan State University, Columbia University, and the University of Maryland at College Park.

She built her career in the public school system for 38 years, serving as administrator and teacher. Her years as an educator included service as Vice Principal and Reading Teacher in Talbot County, CETA Program Supervisor at Vienna Elementary, Principal at Peachblossom Elementary and Principal Glasgow Elementary School. She also worked at St. Clair Elementary School, Warwick Elementary School, Mace's Lane Middle School, Cambridge Middle School, as well as Dorchester County Project Head Start Director and Policy Council.

Evelyn was a longtime member of Waugh Chapel United Methodist Church, serving in such capacities as Sunday school teacher, Director of Summer School Programs, member of Angelic Choir and Combined Choir, Bible Study Class participant and Past Supt. Waugh Church School. She supported the many programs and activities of the church.

Active in the community, she served as President and Vice President of the NAACP, President and Vice President of the Harriet Tubman Organization, Board member of the Dorchester County Chamber of Commerce Member Executive Board, Chesapeake Bay Girl Scouts Council and Girl Scout Troop Leader Member, Tourism Committee, member of the Heart of Chesapeake Heritage Area Committee, Recipient (twice) of the Dorchester County "Most Beautiful Person Award," Advisor to the Speer Trust Foundation (Poverty Initiative), Organizer & Director of the Summer Youth Programs, DCDC Head Start Director Original Board Member, President Sailwinds Park, Inc. Committee, participant of the Seafood Feast-i-val Annual Committee, founder of the Eastern Shore "A More Perfect Union" (Improve Understanding of Different Backgrounds), member of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Business and Professional Women's Club, MSTA (Maryland State Teacher's Association), DREA ( Dorchester Retired Educators Association) and MRSPA (Maryland Retired School Personnel Association).

Through Mrs. Townsend's efforts, Dorchester County became the home of the Harriet Tubman National Underground Railroad Historical Park. The park opened on March 10, 2013 in honor of the date of Harriet Tubman's death 100 years before.

"So many people come from as far as California to see the site that was Harriet's home...we hope to make the pilgrimage an annual affair so that folks can learn the rich history of Dorchester County."

Biography courtesy of the Maryland Commission for Women, 2019.

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