Cora Munn Tula Watters was an author and educator, esteemed as principal chief of the Shawnee Nation-Ohio Blue Creek Band. But in much of the United States, to members of the Baha’i Faith, of which she was an enthusiastic teacher, she was best known as matriarch of the sweetly harmonious singing group Watters and Daughters.
She passed away October 20, 2011, at age 79. She had resided in Adams County, Ohio.
Born in 1932 in Portsmouth, Ohio, Cora served in the Marine Corps and graduated from Ohio University. Much of her career was spent as a teacher in the Adams County/Ohio Valley School District.
That academic career led her to earn a doctorate and teach in the adjunct faculty at Antioch College in Yellow Springs. She also wrote historical works, contributed articles to encyclopedias and magazines including the Bahá’í children’s magazine Brilliant Star, and served as a genealogical resource for areas of Ohio and Pennsylvania.
As hereditary principal chief of the Shawnee Nation-Ohio Blue Creek Band, she was active in preserving the area’s indigenous heritage. She was also a member of the Native American Journalists Association.
Her family’s commitment to the teachings of the Baha’i Faith, of which she was a member for 37 years, shone out through many of the songs by Watters and Daughters, established in 1989. In addition to manifestly religious songs, they also sang of peace, equality and women’s strength.
Cora was preceded in death by a son, James Yezzi; and a sister, Jessie Watters. Her survivors include four daughters, Gina Yezzi and Patrice England of Ohio, Lisa M. Yezzi of North Carolina and Lora Yezzi Shakibanejad of Texas; a son, Michael E. Yezzi III of Ohio; three sisters, Patricia Koeppe, Kathi Watters and Susi Hardin-Corrie of Ohio; three brothers, James P. Watters and James A. Watters of Ohio and Michael Watters of Oklahoma; 10 grandchildren; and eight great-grandchildren.