Black History Month Pathfinder Profiles: Dr. Ella Piper

As the native son of District 17 it is always a pleasure to learn more about all the people who have helped shape our District as we know it today. During Black History Month we will profile Blacks who have forged a new path forward and made a lasting impact. These are our Pathfinders. Today we honor the contributions of Dr. Ella Piper.

Dr. Ella Piper is a graduate of Atlanta’s Spelman College and NYC’s Rohrer’s Institute of Beauty Culture. She moved to Ft. Myers in 1915 and immediately recognized a void she could fill. She opened the first beauty parlor and the first chiropody office (foot doctor) in Ft. Myers. Her beauty parlor’s clientele included the wives of inventor Thomas Edison and auto tycoon Henry Ford. She also owned the Big 4 Bottling Company which sold soft drinks for five cents a bottle.

Dr. Piper was also a generous philanthropist. She hosted annual Christmas parties for underprivileged youth, donated money to college-bound students and served her church faithfully. Dr. Piper helped build the Old Dunbar School and the first hospital for black patients at a time when Jim Crow laws barred them from white hospitals. Dr. Piper’s name lives on in The Center for Social Services which provides support to enhance the lives of individuals 55 and older.

We celebrate Dr. Piper as a #pathfinder who helped put Ft. Myers on a New Path Forward. Do you know a Black History Pathfinder you would like to see in the spotlight? Send us an email to with the subject line “Pathfinder” and a member of a my team will work with you.

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