Ethel C. Wimbish, 95, headed auxiliary of veterans group

April 28, 2004|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

Ethel C. Wimbish, a homemaker, active church member and former president of the national United Spanish-American War Veterans' women's auxiliary, died Thursday of congestive heart failure at Sinai Hospital. She was 95 and lived in West Baltimore.

Born Ethel Coles in Pittsburgh, she was raised on East 28th Street in Waverly. She graduated from Frederick Douglass High School and attended what is now Hampton University in Hampton, Va.

Because her father, Peter F. Coles, served in the Spanish-American War, she joined the auxiliary as one of its few black members.

She became the organization's only black president, serving from 1953 to 1954, said her son, Rayfield Wimbish of Baltimore. She was apparently the auxiliary's last surviving member.

"She used to get mail here from all over the United States," he said of her activities in the auxiliary. "But it finally stopped coming."

Mrs. Wimbish was a private-duty nurse for many years and cared for her aging parents in her home until their deaths. Her father, a waiter for Bay Lines and the Maryland Jockey Club, died in 1962.

Active in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, she was a longtime member of Shiloh AME Church on Lyndhurst Street, where services were held yesterday.

She was a member of Shiloh's steward board and a past president of the Ethel Wimbish Missionary Society, which was named for her. She also sang in the church's Inspirational Choir.

She was Shiloh's Sunday school superintendent for more than 40 years and taught three generations of children.

She was a lay delegate representing Baltimore at three general conferences of the African Methodist Episcopal Church.

Her husband of 51 years, Rayfield Wimbish, a chauffeur for the Archdiocese of Baltimore, died in 1988.

Surviving, in addition to her son, are four granddaughters.

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