In the afternoon of November 6, 2023, the Lord called home one of his beloved children to her eternal rest. Ella Marlene Woodard left her earthly body to receive her wings and joined our Father in Heaven.
Ella Marlene Aekins was born on February 22, 1938, in Pittsburgh, PA, to Samuel A. and Clara M. Aekins. After her mother’s sudden passing when Ella was only six years old, Samuel moved the family to Norfolk, VA where he later remarried.
Ella grew up and lived the remainder of her life in Norfolk. She attended Norfolk Public Schools and graduated from Booker T. Washington High School. On July 21, 1957, Ella married Frank Woodard, Jr. from Littleton, NC. They settled down in Norfolk where they lovingly raised two sons.
Ella was extremely devoted to her two sons’ development in faith, character, education, and sense of responsibility and accountability as well as their interests. This included attending Covenant Presbyterian Church, joining Parent Teacher Associations, supporting the Norfolk City league football programs, and acting as Band Mom with the Norfolk Public School System marching and concert band ensembles. As an active member of the Chesterfield Heights Civic league, Ella was always seeking to improve her community. Her involvement in neighborhood, church, and school events made her a loved neighborhood mom. She was also a passionate pet mom.
In 1972, Ella received certification for the Completion of Requirements in Paraprofessional Work in the Regular Classroom – EPDA Project, at Norfolk State University, and later worked as a teacher’s aide in the Norfolk Public School System for several years.
In 1988, Ella received a Certificate of Approval from the Commonwealth of Virginia, Department of Social Services for In-Home Day Care. She cared for several In-Home Care recipients over her years in this position. She loved making the lives of others more comfortable. Ella also worked as a Mary Kay Cosmetics consultant. Ella will always be known as a loving wife, mother, and grandmother; loyal sister and friend; and most importantly a forgiving Christian.
Ella enjoyed watching football, especially the Pittsburgh Steelers and Washington Redskins, baseball, listening to Motown music, cooking, and spending time with family and friends. She loved to have her home filled with friends and family during the holidays. Her home was always open with love.
Ella was a longtime, active member of Covenant Presbyterian Church in Norfolk, Va, where she served as a Deacon and Treasurer for many years.
Ella is preceded in death by her parents; husband of 65 years Frank Woodard, Jr.; three sisters, Irene Bright, Ruth Sullivan, and Barbara Sivells; and seven brothers, George Aekins, Donald Aekins, William “Billy” Johnson, Bobby Johnson, Lloyd Aekins, Sahib Salaam, and Samuel “Buddy” Aekins Jr.
She leaves behind to cherish her memory, two sons Frank Woodard III and Lamonte (Rita) Woodard, two granddaughters, Angelina Woodard and Natalia Woodard; sisters Shirley Tardy and Inayah Rashid; sisters-in-law Shirley (Samuel Jr) Aekins, Mamie (Sahib) Salaam, and Odell (Willie) Woodard; brothers-in-law Joe (Archyne) Woodard and Fred (Helen) Rosser, Sr.; life-long friend Deloris Robbs; and a host of loving nieces, nephews, and many special neighbors and friends.