Ethel Lee (Hedgepeth) Atwater

May 29, 1932 ~ January 31, 2020 (age 87)


Born on May 29, 1932 in Durham, North Carolina, Ethel Lee was Estelle and Hubert Hedgepeth’s oldest of seven children.

At a very tender age, Ethel Lee gave her heart to God and her hand to the preacher and joined Mt. Level Missionary Baptist Church in Durham, North Carolina. After moving to Chicago, she became a member of Calvary Methodist Church in 1963.

She attended Durham Public Schools, graduating from Merrick-Moore High School in 1951.

On January 13th, 1954, she married the love of her life, William Thomas Atwater and to this union three children were born, William Thomas Jr, Wylanta and Winston.

The two relocated to Chicago, Illinois in 1956 while Ethel Lee was pregnant with her baby girl and second child, Wylanta.


She began working for the Board of Education in 1967. She obtained her position as a teacher at Oglesby Elementary School for the next twenty-six years, retiring in 1993. Not only was she a great wife , mother and after retiring she became the best grandmother, auntie, cousin that the Hedgepeth-Atwater Family could ever have in their lives. Her love for cooking held the family together. She cooked seven course meals, baked cookies and cakes for the entire family keeping everyone with a full belly and a smile. She would never turn anyone away from a nice hot meal. She was the caretaker of us all.

She was preceded in death by her husband, William Thomas Sr., her son, William Jr, and her siblings, Elbert, Portia, Hazel, Gilbert and Tommy.

She leaves to cherish loving and fond memories: her children, Wylanta Davis and Winton Atwater of Chicago, IL; five grandchildren, Alexandria Charrier and Kashyra Parker of Chicago, Scott Atwater of Raleigh, NC, Hasan Charrier of Chicago and Walter Metcalf of Denton, TX; six great-grandchildren; one sister, Frances Harris of Durham, NC and a host of nieces and nephews.

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Ethel Lee (Hedgepeth) Atwater, please visit our floral store.


February 7, 2020

10:00 AM to 7:00 PM
Fisher Memorial Funeral Parlor
3137 Fayetteville Street
Durham, NC 27707

February 8, 2020

11:00 AM to 12:00 PM
Mount Level Missionary Baptist Church
316 Hebron Road
Durham, NC 27704

Funeral Service
February 8, 2020

12:00 PM
Mount Level Missionary Baptist Church
316 Hebron Road
Durham, NC 27704

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