Celebrating a Woman who Made History: Elizabeth "Rucker" Feimster
By FRAN FARRER
STATESVILLE, NC – Defying the age-old myth that women of color could only earn an income as a domestic, in 1944 Estelle Elizabeth Caldwell Rucker opened Manzo’s Daycare and Kindergarten in the City of Statesville.
Equally as important, Rucker was the first daycare in Statesville to become part of the Federal Food Program.
It appears Rucker had a pre-planned map of life; she married Manzo Rucker in 1939, they had four children: Nancy, Frank (Babe), Joyce, and James (Nick). It’s often difficult to raise four children and work outside of the home, and with education already carved in her mind and spirit, Rucker made a way to care for her children and others as well while earning an income. With her husband’s health failing, entrepreneurship was the immediate remedy of caring for her children and husband.
Long before bartering and partnerships, Rucker was working with schools, churches, and recreation centers to provide after school and summer care for area children, while not taking away from the love and affection needed at home.
As her business grew help was needed and Ms. Emma Walker stepped up to the plate along with Lorna Byers, Raynelle Rose, Willie Parker, Kylene Williams Parker, and many others.
Louis Houston owner of Houston Transportation partnered with Ms. Rucker to provide transportation for the children to the sites. Kindergartens services were provided at Garfield Recreation Center (Dee Dee Lawrence), Davis & Mangum Funeral Home.
Those that worked with Ms. Rucker were called the “Advisory Committee;” she spent wonderful time with each over fruitful years in Recreation.
Years ago Ms. Rucker shared that her little school was the first to have a graduation exercise in Statesville for Kindergarten children. In addition, they rode in the Christmas Parade for many years. She took them on train trips, and for many it was the first time.
Ms. Rucker had fond memories of so many children, and I’ll lift-up several in addition to her children: Sue McClelland, Jeanette Kimbrough, Wyoming Stevenson, Eric Patterson, Sharon (Pudden) Keaton, Lynn White, Adrian Witt, Adrin Marsh, Andrilla Lowry, Tyrone Lowry, Ethan Carson, Cynthia Carson, Charee Gillespie, Charles Gillespie, Nelda Davis, Aaron Davis, LaJune Henry, Terry Carson, David Moten, Robert Mayfield, Tony Cauthen, Sharon Friday Turman, Jimmy Lowery, Steve Morrison, and many others.
A native of Statesville, Elizabeth was born December 25, 1917 to James W. and Dora Caldwell, who lived on East Bingham Street at the time. Her formal education began at a small school in Rankin Town, and graduated from Morningside High School. Rucker matriculated to Shaw University to major in education and teach French.
Elizabeth Caldwell Rucker Feimster passed away in 2019 at the ripe young age of 93, and is most likely taking care of children in Heaven.
The footprint she leaves for others is to become your own boss; take care of your business and family.