Mary Ruth Ellis is a believer.
She and her late husband, Norman Ellis, a professor who taught Business Management classes for 20 years (1972-1992) at TCC Northeast, were strong believers in the community college structure, in TCC’s positive impact on the lives of its students and the people those students touch. Norman is still honored there today as a professor emeritus.
Mary Ruth Ellis is a gracious 84-year-old with a pleasant smile and a ready laugh who lives comfortably in a home full of memories. Her husband’s office is filled with honors and mementos of his military and teaching careers. It’s the type of house and life one would expect from someone who is obviously well grounded in ways and beliefs that have withstood the test of time.
Mary Ruth also believes in translating ideals into action. So, when Norman passed away, she established the Dr. Norman D. Ellis Memorial Scholarship for Management Studies to help students earn a business degree. Additionally, to celebrate her sister’s upcoming 101st birthday, she recently endowed the Georgia Duncan Scholarship for Future Teachers.
“Dr. Ellis was so successful in all of his ventures, yet it seems his heart was truly with Tarrant County College,” said Liz Sisk, TCC Foundation senior donor relations officer. “Mrs. Ellis chose to continue his legacy at TCC by endowing a scholarship in his memory, sustaining the Ellis family’s relationship with TCC in perpetuity.”
The scholarship is a merit-based, two-semester award that supports full-time students who intend to pursue a career in business administration/management. Mary Ruth sees the scholarship as a fitting memorial to his confidence in community colleges. “He was a strong believer in the junior college concept as a way for kids who weren’t sure what they wanted to do to go on and start college. That way, they had options for later.”
Norman followed his career as a U.S. Air Force officer with a stint as a representative for the Burroughs Corporations’ Fort Worth office. While installing business systems in what was then Tarrant County Junior College’s administrative offices, he recognized the benefits that business education offered local youth and decided to dedicate his life to promoting it.
“He got so involved in the concept that he decided to go back to school to earn his master’s and doctoral degrees at The University of North Texas so he could teach,” Mary Ruth said. “He also advocated for the community college concept the whole time he was teaching. He used to say that it was such a value. One thing caught his mind when we were working with the youth at our church. And one of the little girls was trying to enroll in a business college. But it was so expensive,” she said. “I can just remember that he was so upset. He was adamant about that. He saw the community college was a more economical concept until kids could find the real direction that they wanted to go.”
Shortly after he began teaching, Norman started an on-campus student organization for students in business and management. He also founded a counseling program and even visited the students at their jobs to provide guidance on how to manage their responsibilities. Both programs lasted the entire 20 years he taught at TCC Northeast.
The Georgia Duncan Scholarship for Future Teachers seems a logical way to honor Georgia’s career as a physical education teacher as well as her 101st birthday. The merit-based scholarship supports students at TCC Northeast who are in their first and/or second years and intend to complete the College’s Associate of Arts in Teaching degree.
Mary Ruth said that she decided to honor her sister’s birthday with the scholarship because “We’re both public school education people that see the value of public education. And I was so pleased with what I had done for Dr. Ellis that I chose to do the same for her.”
“I think it’s great. I am very honored. We need more teachers,” Georgia Duncan said, adding that a scholarship that supports aspiring teachers is the ideal way to help.
Celebrating her sister’s teaching career and her wonderful life through the establishment of a scholarship that will support TCC students in the AA Teaching program is heartwarming. Ms. Ellis chose to honor her sister while helping students achieve their education to become teachers. I’m not sure it gets any better than this.
Senior Donor Relations Officer
Duncan began her teaching education as a student at North Texas Agriculture College, which was a two-year junior college in Arlington that ultimately became the University of Texas at Arlington. After a short stint as a second-grade teacher in the Hurst public school system, she taught for most her 40-year career in the Fort Worth ISD. Ellis said that her sister purposely stayed in the Fort Worth ISD because she shared Norman’s strong belief in the value of the public school system as a way to provide students with an affordable, quality education.
Duncan is a life-long resident of Hurst, where she was well-known for her outdoor activity and equestrian skills, Mary Ruth said, remembering that her sister was a prominent participant in the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo in the 1940s.
“She and some other folks from Hurst used to ride their horses all the way to Fort Worth to be in the Stock Show. I can still remember her riding with that big old flag down Main Street in the parade” she said. “She also used to ride around the arena at night as part of the Grand Entry Parade. I didn’t ride. Somebody had to stay home and bake the cakes,” she laughed.