Anyone who’s been to the Dr. Piper Center has seen it—the portrait of our smart, steadfast, and dare we say stylish namesake, Dr. Ella Mae Piper. She sits in a tapestry chair, wearing a high-collared dress and a wide-brimmed feathered hat. We see her bright eyes and Mona Lisa smile, and she inspires us daily. We’ve long searched for ways to continue paying tribute to this dynamic woman.
No single word describes Dr. Piper’s contributions to our community. She was a businesswoman who established the first beauty parlor and chiropody office in Fort Myers. She was an advocate for education, assisting in building the Old Dunbar School and helping young people get scholarships to Tuskegee College. She broke barriers as an African-American woman who owned several popular businesses in a racially-divided city. And, of course, she was a philanthropist, known across the community for helping children and senior citizens, and for donating her estate to the City of Fort Myers to establish what would become the Dr. Piper Center.
Dr. Piper and her family are responsible for one of our region’s most big-hearted traditions. In 1915 her mother, Sarah Williams, decided to hold a Christmas party for 15 underprivileged young girls in Dunbar Heights. After Mrs. Williams passed in 1926, Dr. Piper rolled up her sleeves and carried on the tradition, rallying churches, businesses, friends, and community leaders to contribute to the cause.
That party has continued uninterrupted for more than a century with one major change—today, close to 600 boys and girls celebrate at the Dr. Piper Center on Christmas morning. The Christmas Celebration is an inspirational example of Dr. Piper’s resolve to give back to her community. We feel her presence every Christmas day, proudly watching over her party.
Now it’s our turn to be proud. Today, we are thrilled to pay tribute to our namesake with a new logo for the Dr. Piper Center. Dr. Piper’s fashionable feathered hat sits jauntily over her name, symbolizing her lasting presence in Fort Myers. The deep violet of her name symbolizes her stability as a pillar of the community. Purple, after all, is the color of royalty, and Dr. Piper certainly fits the bill. The coral accent in our new logo represents Dr. Piper’s enormous heart and her deep passion for helping others.
We’ve always honored Dr. Piper’s legacy through our work, helping thousands of seniors and kids around the Fort Myers area. Today, we honor her through our new brand identity, as well. We hope this new logo makes you feel as good about the Dr. Piper Center as we do.