A Legacy of Educational Excellence, Civic Involvement and Community Service
On July 1, 1926, Benjamin and Larcelia White Haywood welcomed their first born, a daughter, Annie Lee, into their home in Cedar Creek, Bastrop County, Texas. Benjamin, a farmer and entrepreneur, and Larcelia, a teacher, raised their five children on their Cedar Creek farm. As a member of Hopewell Primitive Baptist Church, young Annie Lee was baptized by Elder John H. Clay on Sunday, July 16, 1939. Her membership and commitment to Hopewell continued for over 80 years.
Annie’s parents made education a priority for their children and enrolled Annie Lee in Emile Elementary School at four years of age and sent her, with recognized talents and abilities, to Emile High School from which she graduated at 16 years of age. The studious Annie Lee began her higher education by seeking a Bachelor of Arts degree in Elementary Education from Huston-Tillotson College in nearby Austin, Texas, from which she graduated at age 20.
Near Bastrop at Camp Swift, Annie Lee met a handsome young man named Otha Haywood from Elgin, Texas. Their attraction was instantaneous so they researched the Haywood name background and discovered they were from two distinct families that happened to both be named “Haywood”. Annie Lee became “Mrs. Annie Lee Haywood Haywood” on February 27, 1946. The newly wed couple established their first residence in Elgin, Texas, located a few miles north of Bastrop. She later attended Prairie View A&M University where she obtained a Master’s degree in Elementary Education before she pursued other post graduate certifications and training.
While in Elgin, the young couple watched their family grow with the birth of four daughters, Jeanie Mae, Ruth Evelyn, Emma Grace and Othene. Their two older daughters died very young, leaving Othene and Grace as the center of their parents’ attention and the focus of their goals for achievement of academic excellence.
Mrs. Haywood was her daughters’ teacher at home and school in the Elgin Independent School District. Frequently serving as the lead campus administrator, she taught and mentored thousands of students over the course of several generations during her thirty-one years in the District. She was blessed to see many of her students become leaders in Elgin and other communities. She was instrumental in the creation of the Elgin Head Start Program and helped establish a primary school booster club. Her lifelong commitment to education continued after retirement as an active member of the Texas State Teachers Association.
Mrs. Haywood was an enthusiastic civic activist. She was deeply involved in the political process through her long time association with the Democratic Party in Bastrop County. She worked at every level from registering voters door-to-door to participating as a voting delegate at state conventions. She served as an election judge during local, state and national elections and was a key member of the Women’s Action League. She established the Elgin Concerned Taxpayers Organization and was elected as its treasurer. As a woman of great initiative and enthusiasm, Mrs. Haywood worked with the Elgin Day Care Center, the Steering Committee for Morris Memorial Park, the Elgin Historical Association and the Sayersville Cemetery Association. In 1992, she was recognized by the Greater Elgin Chamber of Commerce with the Most Worthy Citizen Award.
This esteemed leader served as District President of the Ladies Auxiliary of VFW Post Number 6115 and a Worthy Matron of the Order of the Eastern Star (OES). Another highlight of her work in the fraternal order was the creation of a Youth Circle in 1990 by the Powell Chapter #145, O.E.S., which was dedicated to encouraging academic excellence and community service among African American youth. It was named the “Annie Haywood Circle #129” in honor of Mrs. Haywood who served Powell Chapter as Worthy Matron for twenty-eight years.
She was a member of the Heroines of Jericho Courts for over sixty four years. She achieved the Rose of Seven Seals Degree, the highest degree a lady can attain. Mrs. Haywood served as Grand and Supreme secretary as well as Supreme Grand Senior Matron and Grand Most Ancient Matron of Texas. She was also a member of the Court of Calanthe.
Mrs. Haywood was a deeply religious servant of her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Her lifelong service extended beyond membership in Hopewell Primitive Baptist Church, representing the church as an active member of the Providence District Association, Texas Primitive Baptist Convention and the National Primitive Baptist Convention of USA and Canada. When the National Ushers’ Congress was reorganized in Huntsville, Alabama in 1957, Mrs. Haywood was elected Recording Secretary. Throughout the years, she held many positions including President Emeritus of the Texas Primitive Baptist Ushers’ Congress. Of her many awards and honors, two of the most noteworthy were the Community Service Award and the Faithful Service Award both from the National Women’s Congress.
She distinguished herself as a gifted educator, engaged citizen, religious leader, mentor and selfless volunteer in the Elgin community until her health declined. Mrs. Haywood joined her daughter, Dr. Grace Haywood Mosby, and her family in Houston to ensure the best health care that she deserved. She was welcomed into the Houston community and participated in family and social events, visited homes of family and friends and received visitors at the residential facilities she selected in the most recent months. Supported by the loving Mosby kinfolk, Mrs. Haywood continued to travel beyond Houston to family reunions and other gatherings to remain in touch with her many longtime friends in Bastrop County and other areas of the USA.
On September 26, 2019, Mrs. Haywood slept away into the loving arms of the God she had faithfully served and joined her husband, Otha, in their eternal reunion. Because of her faith, her family is comforted that she rejoiced in joining those who predeceased her including her daughters, parents, great-granddaughter, Jasmine Shells, sister, Bettye Faye Emanuel, her brothers, Willie and Melvin Haywood, and son-in-law, Dr. Richard Allen Mosby, Sr.
She leaves to cherish her legacy her two surviving daughters: Dr. Emma Grace Haywood Mosby of Houston and Othene (Ronald) Haywood Wade of Kennewick, Washington; grandchildren: Larcelia (Reginald) Bell Shells of Highlands Ranch, Colorado, Richard Allen, Jr., Haywood Edward, Mercedes Grace and James Scott Mosby of Houston; great-grandchildren: Dominique and Grant Shells of Highlands Ranch, Colorado and brother, Clyde (Creama) Haywood of Bastrop, Texas along with multiple nieces and nephews, many other family members and friends in the Cedar Creek, Elgin, Bastrop, Houston and other communities, states and countries near and far.