Blanche General Ely and Joseph A. Ely

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Blanche General Ely
Born(1904-12-07)December 7, 1904
DiedDecember 23, 1993(1993-12-23) (aged 89)
Burial placeForest Lawn Memorial Gardens North, Pompano Beach, Florida
ResidencePompano Beach, Florida
EducationBachelor of Arts degree, Florida A & M University; Master's Degree in Educational Administration and Supervision, Teachers College, Columbia University.
OccupationTeacher and principal
Years active1923–1970
EmployerBroward County School System
Known forExpanding educational opportunities for African-American students
Spouse(s)? Boyd, Joseph A. Ely
  • John General (father)
  • Sarah Enoch General (mother)

Blanche Elizabeth General Ely (December 7, 1904 — December 23, 1993) was born in Reddick, Florida, the daughter of Deacon John General and Sarah Enock General. Her mother died when she was an infant, and she was raised by her father and her stepmother Amanda General. She graduated from Fessenden Academy in Ocala, and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree at Florida A & M University, and a Master's Degree in Educational Administration and Supervision, Teachers College, Columbia University. She also held a Bachelor of Science in "Life Instructions", from a program jointly sponsored by Florida A&M University and Benedict College.[1]

In 1923, after brief spells teaching at Ojus Elementary School in Hialeah and Deerfield Beach Elementary,[2] she was named principal of the Pompano Negro Grammar School. When its two-room wooden building was destroyed in the 1926 Miami hurricane, she spearheaded efforts to raise money, get matching support from the Rosenwald Fund, and a much larger, 6-classroom Pompano Colored School opened in 1928. The school was later renamed for her.

She was behind four new schools, and recommended principals and names for them: Pompano Migrant School (aka Golden Acres), Coleman Elementary School, Markham Elementary School, and Sanders Park Elementary School.

She retired in 1970, "when a federal desegregation order closed the [Blanche Ely] high school." She and other community leaders filed suit, and the school was reopened as an integrated school in 1974.[3]

Blanche General Boyd, a widow, married Joseph Ely about 1937.[4]:44

Her husband, Dr. Joseph Alegenon Ely (†1984), was born in Jacksonville, Florida, son of Reverend Lawrence Ely, one of the founders of Florida Normal Baptist Institute in Live Oak, Florida (today Florida Memorial University), from which Joseph graduated. Joseph was also a graduate of Morehouse College and Columbia University. He is reported to have spoken "at least seven languages".[4]:43

He was principal of Colored School Number 11 in Dania, Florida (since 1998, Dania Beach). When it was replaced in 1924 by Broward's first school building built for negro students (today the Old Dillard Museum), he was its first principal. The 10-room two-story building had an inscription over the front door that read "Colored School". In 1930, Ely had the school renamed in honor of James H. Dillard, a white philanthropist, educator, and promoter of education for black children. Originally it ended at grade 6, but by the time Ely left the school in 1937, it had an enrollment of 600 and a high school.[5] He became principal at what is today Crispus Attucks Middle School, also in Dania; it was an elementary school when he arrived, but he expanded it into one of Broward County's three high schools for black students (the others were Dillard High in Ft. Lauderdale, and Blanche Ely High in Pompano Beach).[6] He remained there until his retirement in 1963.[7]

The Elys sponsored the first federally-funded lunch program in Broward County.[8]

They are buried together in Forest Lawn Memorial Gardens North, Pompano Beach, Florida.



  1. ^ Henry, Carma (December 10, 2015). "Florida's finest: Blanche Ely". Westside Gazette. Retrieved May 2, 2019.
  2. ^ Hurlash, Lisa J. (July 6, 1999). "Pompano educator's' home will be black history museum". South Florida Sun Sentinel. p. 8.
  3. ^ Puleo, Marie (March 19, 2019). "New Museum Opens in Pompano Beach; Celebrated City History. New Museum Honors Legendary Educator Blanche Ely". Pompano! Magazine. Retrieved May 2, 2019.
  4. ^ a b Harvey, Eunice Cason (2012). Florida, State of My Birth, Pompano Beach, My Hometown: A Pictorial Storybook. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: Dorrance Publishing Co. ISBN 9781434909060.
  5. ^ "Enrollment in Dillard School Reported at 600". Fort Lauderdale News. September 18, 1937. p. 5.
  6. ^ Benjamin, Jody (June 30, 1996). "Attucks alumni celebrate past, look to the future". South Florida Sun Sentinel. p. 4.
  7. ^ Adams, Damon (June 11, 1990). "The 'Tess' honored at special program Joseph Ely's success as educator remembered". South Florida Sun Sentinel. p. 17.
  8. ^ City of Pompano Beach (April 15, 2016), 2018 Small Matching Grant Application (PDF), p. 9, retrieved May 2, 2019