Cover photo for Portia Elizabeth Johnson-Ennels's Obituary
Portia Elizabeth Johnson-Ennels Profile Photo
1947 Portia 2022

Portia Elizabeth Johnson-Ennels

April 7, 1947 — October 16, 2022

Cambridge

Her Story

Portia Elizabeth Johnson-Ennels, 75, of Cambridge, MD departed this life at her home on Sunday, October 16, 2022, surrounded by loved ones. She was born April 7, 1947 in Baltimore, MD and was the daughter of the late Doris Johnson Mack and the late Frank U. Saunders. Portia was nurtured and raised by her great-grandmother, the late Phoebe Camper-Cornish. She  was known as a “fighter”, and would always bounce back from any trial or tribulation she faced. 

Portia was educated in Dorchester County Public Schools. She was a part of the Class of 1965 at Maces Lane High School. Portia also attended Jersey City Job Corp. She went on to attend Jersey City State College, Jersey City, NJ and Jarvis Christian College, Hawkins, TX. Portia was a faithful member of the Cambridge Church of Christ in Cambridge, MD and dedicated her life to Jesus and giving back to the community. Portia’s early adulthood was one marked by politics, love, service, public speaking, traveling and exploration. She was known as “the pillar and voice of our community”. When Portia was not busy volunteering with others, she enjoyed spending time with her granddaughter Shamya, crocheting, and always having a large family and friends gathering every Christmas Eve. She held employment with Sears, Easton Memorial Hospital, Maple Shade, Inc. and substituted for Dorchester County Public Schools, before ultimately dedicating her time to implementing opportunities for the advancement of citizens, and creating her own programs where she recognized the needs of the community. 

Portia married the love of her life, the late John H. Ennels Sr., on December 24, 2000 in their home. They shared many joyous memories together and he often joined her in the community efforts especially those that included lawn care service. 

She adored all things political, socially active, and community engagement and could frequently be found volunteering in the community. Her work took up much of her free time, something she was immensely proud of. She was one of Dorchester County’s well-known community volunteers and activists. There isn’t an agency or foundation within the city/county that was not familiar with her name. Portia truly believed in community, service to that community, and connecting to others through time well spent. She believed our world could be improved if everyone simply dedicated a little bit of their time towards the common good. 

One of the first initiatives that Portia started was when she recognized that under-privileged youth needed help transitioning into the working world to become productive adults; she developed the Community Youth Employment Program (CYEP). The program empowered youth to overcome the stigma of living in low-income housing, the welfare cycle, and being unemployable. The program provided summer employment, educational opportunities and one-on-one mentoring. While this program was her “baby”, she maintained her commitment to the broader community with accomplishments that were great and honorable. 

Some of the outstanding accomplishments and organizations that she was a part of were: 

  • The Eastern Shore Volunteer Network; appointed by Governor Donald Schaefer

  • Citizen Review Board for Children (formerly Foster Care Review); appointed by Governor Parris N. Glendenning

  • Citizen Review Panel for Children; appointed by Dr. Thomas A. Flowers

  • President for Dorchester County Commissioners and Youth Coordinator

  • The Pine Street Committee of Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, Inc. and the Empowerment Center

In addition, she held numerous roles with The Eastern Shore Taskforce Inc. (T.E.S.T.), Dorchester County Association of Taxpayers (DCAT), Red Cross- Dorchester Chapter, Cambridge Main Street Steering Committee, City of Cambridge Human Relations Committee, Police Citizen Advisory Board- Cambridge Police Department, Dorchester Family and Youth, D.C.D.C. Head Start Policy Council- Community Representative, League of Women Voters of the Mid-Shore, City of Cambridge Americans with Disabilities Act Committee, Dorchester County Drug and Alcohol Abuse Council, Martin Luther King Jr. Basketball Tournament, Housing Board of Calvin Mowbray Park, City of Cambridge Housing Task Force, Pine Street Revitalization Committee, Dorchester County Commission on Redistricting, Charter Review Committee, Hot Spots/Safe Streets Coalition, C. SAFE, NAACP and a plethora of other organizations locally and statewide. Portia was also honored by state and local government for her efforts and was named Volunteer of the Year in Dorchester County three times. She would always assess the community and lend her expertise whenever it was required. 

She leaves to cherish her memory and legacy, two children, Andre Johnson and Vicky “Missy” Johnson of Cambridge, MD; One granddaughter, Shamya Johnson (Jerome) of Salisbury, MD; One great-grandchild, Karsen Johnson, of Salisbury, MD; fourteen brothers & sisters: Timothy Johnson (Floretta), Mary Smith, Alice Johnson, Kermit Johnson, and Beatrice Johnson of Cambridge, MD; Wayne Johnson (Janice) of Fruitland, MD; Vanessa Ward of Crisfield, MD; Shirley Benson of Preston, MD; Pamela Brooks of Chester, PA; Barbara Muhammad of Claymont, DE; Tanya Rhoades of King of Prussia/Anguilla; Linda Saunders of Chester, PA; William Frank Stanley of Cambridge, MD; and Patricia Thomas (Sidney) of New Castle, DE ; special aunt Barbara Johnson-Bishop; uncle Norris Johnson; two sister-in-laws, Beverly Ennels of Cambridge, MD and Lola Ennels of Parsonburg, MD; one brother-in-law, Thomas Ennels (Sylvia) of Seaford, DE; special friends Jane Devlin, Joann Dixon, Brenda Hayward, and Dr. Barbara Woolford; honorary grandchildren Rytesha Roberts-Carmon, Keshia Scott, Jerome Stubbs Jr. and Meisha Woolford; devoted caregiver Renee Demby; and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, other relatives, dear friends, community members and community leaders. 

She is preceded in death by her parents Doris Johnson Mack and Frank U. Saunders; great-grandmother Phoebe Camper-Cornish;  husband, John H. Ennels Sr.; her loving son Kirk D. Earle; step-son John H. Ennels Jr.; aunt Rose Cephas; sister Patricia Hill; two brothers Larry Johnson & David Saunders; and best friend Octavene Saunders. 

In lieu of flowers, we are requesting donations be made to honor Portia to the following organizations: New Beginnings Youth & Family Services, 522 Greenwood Avenue, Cambridge, MD 21613 or Epilepsy Foundation Maryland, 3540 Crain Highway Ste. 675, Bowie, MD, 20716. 

 

 

 
 
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