Dr. Ella Mae Piper was a well-known business woman and civic worker. She was born in Brunswick, Georgia on March 8, 1884, and was the only daughter of Ned Bailer and Sarah Williams.
Piper established the first beauty parlor and chiropody office in Fort Myers, Florida. She attended Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia and graduated from the renowned Rohrer’s Institute of Beauty Culture located in New York City. She graduated in August 1915 and later moved to Fort Myers in 1915 where she opened her first beauty shop located on Jackson Street.
She also owned the Big 4 Bottling Company located on Mango and Evans, and during this time, the local community enjoyed the beverages for five cents a bottle. Piper was known as a philanthropist and was instrumental in helping young people obtain scholarships to attend Tuskegee College.
She frequently held annual Christmas parties for young children. Her mother started the event in 1915 while employed in the H. E. Heitman home, and thus, began an institute over the years that grew from an original gathering of 15 little girls to some 600 boys and girls. Not only was Piper known for helping young children, but she also helped the senior citizens throughout her community as well. Piper died on June 13, 1954.