Celebrating Ellen Watts

Ellen Today
Ellen at 1-1/2 yrs. with Daddy Rufus
"The Big House" in Laurel Hills, NC
Ellen's High School Picture - 1969
Ellen Signing One of the Breast Cancer Pink Fire Trucks
Dale & Ellen at their son's wedding in 2009
Ellen's Family Reading at Advent in 2018
Mural Ellen Painted in the Church's Nursery

Celebrating Ellen Watts


Kae Mattingly

September 2021


The lady we are celebrating this month is a life-time Presbyterian.  She is the lead alto of our church.  She is a published writer in "Our State Magazine."  This woman has served on every committee in our church.  This month we celebrate Ellen Watts.

In Scotland County, North Carolina, on December 23, 1950, Ellen was born to Rufus and Margaret Pittman.  Ellen's father was an executive with the Boy Scout State Council.  Later he joined the military.  He retired as a Lieutenant Colonel when WWII ended.  He was a Commanding Officer of the Laurenburg Maxton Air Base, where the gliders left for Europe during the war.  After retirement he ran a grocery store with his father.  Her mother was a homemaker, and more.  She was very involved in the community and the church.  She was a fearless community leader.  She was the first person called for any emergencies in the community.  If someone died, she would already be there at the house before the funeral home arrived.  She was always making meals for people in need.  For many years, she was in charge of the "Ingathering."  This was an annual event in the fall when the community would gather together, selling fall harvested vegetables, handcrafts, freshly made breads and pastries, and a meal was served.  The ladies worked several weeks preparing the food.  Thousands of meals were served that day.  Ellen's mother attended a two-years of college, and was determined that her girls would go to college and be independent women.  It wasn't "if" we go to college, it would be "where" are we going to college!  In addition to Ellen and her parents, Ellen's grandmother and two sisters, Pat (age 8) and Katherine (age 7) were all living in the "Big House" on a large plantation.  The house was in Laurel Hill, NC.  It was built at the turn of the past century by Ellen's great-grandfather.  The house was Ellen's mother's family home.  Ellen published an article in "Our State Magazine," recalling how it felt living there and having a hand in the Christmas preparations.  To read the article and find out why Christmas was her favorite holiday as a child, click here.

As an infant, Ellen was baptized (sprinkled) at Old Laurel Hill Presbyterian Church.  The church is still there and thriving.  At least once a year she goes back to visit.  She and Dale were married there.

When asked how her childhood was compared to today’s children, her response was, she would be outside all day long, riding her bike, or walking through the woods with her dog named Inky.  She liked playing in the pond and paying attention to her dad when he was teaching her how to fish.  She still enjoys fishing today.

Ellen attended Wagram School (grades 1-8).  It was a community school and everyone knew each other.  Her mother attended this school also as a child.  When Ellen was there, she had an aunt who was teaching there at the time.  This aunt was an influence on her decision to become a teacher.  Her favorite subject in elementary school was Language Arts.  In Jr. High, she joined the chorus.  There was a school talent show and Ellen and her friends Celeste, Shelia, and Mary sang two Beatles songs - I Want To Hold Your Hand and Eight Days A Week.  They brought the house down and had to do an encore!  There was only one high school in Scotland County.  Scotland County High School was so big and different from what she had been accustomed to.  There were many more students and new teachers.  Ellen participated in chorus, Spanish Club, and Drama Club, where she appeared in two plays - The Lottery and Shakespeare's Macbeth where she played one of the witches.  She graduated high school in 1969.

Her college years were spent at the University of North Carolina at Pembrook, where she lived, attended classes and worked.  Some of her jobs included Intercom Operator, receptionist - where students leaving the dorm would have to sign out to leave, and sign in when returning to the dorm.  She was also a Resident Advisor.  When Ellen got paid for her jobs on campus, it went directly to pay for her tuition.  Her parents had paid for her two older sisters’ education, but Ellen insisted on paying her tuition.   Ellen's major was Elementary Education.  While at Pembrook she joined the local sorority.  As she was finishing her junior year, she met Dale.  He played cards with her friends at the sorority house.  In December, the sorority house would find a tree to set in the front window of the house for Christmas.  Dale offered to drive the University truck to transport the tree.  They drove to the "Big House" and found the perfect tree.  Dale was a freshman at the time.

In April, 1972, Ellen and fifteen of her sorority sisters decided to take a day trip to South of the Border (On the border between North and South Carolina).  Dale went along and hung out with Ellen all day.  That was their first date.  The summer of 1972, they started writing letters to each other.  Dale lived in Kernersville and Ellen was in Laurenburg.  They got married in June 1973.  Ellen finished college in December 1973 after just three and a half years.  She participated in the graduation commencement the following spring.

Ellen started her teaching career at Union Hill Elementary School in High Point, NC.  She was a Title 1 Reading teacher.  She taught 4th grade there for four years.  She later moved to Colfax Elementary School for eight years, where she taught grades four and six.  During her time there she had three children, Andrew in 1980 (sadly, he died soon after birth), Kent in 1981, and Magan in 1983.  She then moved to Northwest Middle School teaching grade six.  She stayed there for eighteen years.  Ellen retired from teaching in 2005.

In 2002, while still at Northwest Middle, she developed breast cancer.  She took a medical leave from teaching the entire year.  Happy to say, today she is a breast cancer survivor.  Every year there is a Pink Ribbon Rally in Kernersville sponsored by Amy Jo Fischer.  A pink firetruck is brought in and all cancer survivors sign it.  Ellen signs it every year.

The beach was where family traditions took place.  Every Easter was where the Easter Egg Hunts was staged.  Today, the tradition has changed somewhat.  Now it’s where ever Grandma is, that's where the Easter Egg Hunt will be!  Vacations always took place at the beach.

A favorite hobby of Ellen's is painting.  She took paint classes taught by our own Donna Myers.  The entire paint class traveled to Pennsylvania, Raleigh, and Winston-Salem for classes.  In 2018, Ellen painted the Noah's Ark mural in the nursery of our church.  She also likes to fish.  That's one of the reasons she married Dale.  He liked to surf fish.

Most of Ellen's travels have been in the United States.  When she was sixteen, she and her parents drove across the United States.  She and Dale traveled to several places when he was working on his family tree.

Ellen joined First Presbyterian Church on Sunday, May 8, 1976.  She was ordained and installed as an Elder on January 8, 1978.  She has served on every committee in the church.  We have all enjoyed her beautiful alto voice coming from the choir.  Prior to joining the church graduating seniors received a religious book.  Around the year 2005, Ellen started a scholarship fund which gave every graduating senior $500 to help with their first-year of college expenses.  Ellen has always been involved in the Egg Ministry.  Not only does she work on the eggs, but in 2005 she would complete our egg season with a poem.  Since that first poem, Ellen has written an “egg” poem to commemorate each year that we have made the eggs.  To read one of her poems, click here.  Ellen’s love for writing began in her senior year of high school when she took a Creative Writing class as an elective.  The teacher's name was Mrs. Wright.  As a result of that class Ellen loves to write and we love to read her stories and poems.



I am most proud of my children Kent and Megan, and grandchildren, Andrew, Kelsey, Emigen, and Hudson.



Always be humble and kind.

(Tim McGraw)