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Devoted wife, mother, educator, entrepreneur and community leader, Naomi Ervin Waddleton was a force to be reckoned with.
Naomi was born in Gilmer, Texas, on May 12, 1934, to Lela Bell Ervin and John Henry Ervin, Sr. Next to the last of eight children, she strategically fought for her family position and reminded others that she was “the baby” even after the birth of her baby brother, John Henry Ervin, Jr.
Naomi excelled academically and graduated from Bruce High School when she was 17 years old. Following the family tradition, she enrolled into Texas College as a Home Economics major. She demonstrated early on that she was a supreme culinarian, preparing elaborate meals, planning on-campus functions, and entertaining housing visitors, including members of the college president’s cabinet.
At Texas College she was selected to perform and traveled with the “Steerettes,” the original group of high-stepping majorettes whose dance and performance style would be emulated by Historically Black Colleges and Universities in dance and performance. The dynamic group was often compared to New York City’s world-famous Rockettes and is featured in Ebony Magazine.
Naomi minored in chemistry, and when offered a private tutor to enhance her knowledge in the subject matter she cautiously accepted. A relationship was destined to be as he tutored her in chemistry, and she supported him with completion of his projects. The couple married in 1953.
Shortly after Naomi graduated from Texas College, Preston and Naomi relocated to Tucson, Arizona. She worked as elementary educator in the community of Eloy. The couple later relocated to Las Vegas, Nevada, in pursuit of her husband’s career aspirations at the U.S. Bureau of Mines. In addition to teaching school, Naomi pursued a career in costume design and fashion. The couple returned to Tucson and gave birth to their only child, Felecia S. Waddleton in 1962. The family relocated to Washington, D.C. shortly after. There, Mrs. Waddleton was personally selected by a State of Arizona Congressional Representative to teach third grade at Bruce Elementary School.
The Faith and Service
Naomi has served in multiple capacities an active and dedicated member of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church at large. While at Israel Christian Methodist Episcopal (C.ME.), Washington, D.C. she served as Missionary, Stewardess, Host of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church 7th Episcopal District Annual Citywide Tea and Delegate to the 7th Episcopal District Conference Conclave election meeting. Naomi had been member-at-large of the Colesville United Methodist Church since 2012.
An appointment to Bruce Elementary School (later Bruce-Monroe) allowed Naomi to expand upon her expertise in the fields of Home Economics and Primary Education. She was a member of a cadre of teachers who performed a pilot-study for the Initial Teaching Alphabet (TIA) Teaching Program for reading and writing. This unique curriculum received national attention and recognition. She and her students also received recognition throughout the region for accomplishments in Nutrition in Elementary Education, Clothing and Room Arrangement, Etiquette and Clothing/Fashion Design throughout grades pre-kindergarten, 7th and 8th. Her students were invited to the United States White House for a Christmas holiday celebration to meet First-Lady, Rosalyn Carter, and later for the unveiling of the Bicentennial Commemoration of the Susan-B Anthony Coin Stamp and to meet First-Lady Laura Bush.
While at Bruce-Monroe, Naomi was one of the first teachers to pilot the open-space teaching learning module. She furthered these teaching techniques when she accepted a position at Brookland Elementary School. There, her students received national honorary recognition with the Future Homemakers of America (FHA) and traveled to Seattle, Washington, for formal presentation. Naomi received Outstanding Teacher of the Year and Outstanding Home Economics Teacher of the Year awards. She retired from Backus Middle School in Washington, D.C.
In Montgomery County Maryland she served as Alpha Wives President, (auxiliary to IUL Chapter Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, inc.). For almost three decades she and the women of Alpha Wives Montgomery County hosted Ebony Fashion Fairat the Indian Spring Country Club which highlighted one of the most visible fundraisers for the organization. Additionally, she was a Charter Member of The Emanons. There, she collaborated with women throughout the District, Maryland, and Virginia in annually presenting the Black and White Ball which provided academic scholarships for deserving youth. She served as members of Delta Sigma Theta, Montgomery County Alumnae Chapter and Top Ladies of Distinction.
Naomi’s professional endeavors extended into business and community service. She and Preston launched Action Oil, one of the first African American owned and operated home heating oil company that serviced the greater Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Region.
Together, the Waddleton’s launched Action Limousine Company, a fleet of vehicles provided service for members of the community, local and international celebrities and dignitaries including the late Dorothy Height, the late Reverend Joseph Lowery, the late Coretta Scott King, and Bill Cosby and family. Action Limousine serviced entertainers and noted participants including the Mutant Ninga Turtles in local parades. Also recognized beneficiaries were Miss Washington, D.C. Olympian Dominque Dawes and Famous Amos (cookie aficionado). Most-notably, the first owned limousine in the fleet was featured in the highly acclaimed movie “True Lies “transporting actors Arnold Schwarzenegger and Tom Arnold.
Naomi leaves behind a devoted daughter, Dr. Felecia S. Waddleton-Willis, of Silver Spring, Maryland; brother, John H. Ervin, Jr. of Redmond, Washington; aunt, Zella B. Smith of Los Angeles, California; and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, friends and eternal students.
All Saints Home Health Care, Silver Spring, Maryland
Aspenwood Assisted Living Facility, Silver Spring, Maryland
Capital Caring Hospice, Washington, D.C.
Envisacare Home Care, Washington, D.C.
Home Centrist Caregiving Healthcare, Gaithersburg, Maryland
Mid-Atlantic Permanente Medical Group
Montgomery County Hospice, Rockville, Maryland
A host of private duty caregivers
First Baptist Church of Glen Arden, Upper Marlboro, Maryland Senior Visiting Ministry
Missionary Circle, Israel C.M.E. Church, Washington, D.C.
Oasis Ministries, Virginia Beach, Virginia
United Methodist Women, Colesville United Methodist Church, Silver Spring, Maryland