Effie-Raye Calhoun demonstrated her interest and enthusiasm for art from her first day in school. She began art lessons in the seventh grade at Grainger High School in Kinston, NC, and continued art studies through her high school years.
Thinking college was an impossible dream, Effie-Raye had the help of her high school art teachers to receive a scholarship to Meredith College. The sale of her artwork helped to pay her college expenses. She was influenced by her college art teachers, Ida Poteat and Mary Tillery, and served as a teaching assistant and teacher during her time at Meredith.
After college, she continued teaching art at Summit School in Winston-Salem. Her marriage to Wash Bateman brought her to Washington, NC where she soon began giving private art lessons.
Wash and Effie-Raye moved to Belhaven where she taught art classes for young people and adults. Her art instruction touched the lives of hundreds of area residents. Lemonade and cinnamon crisps were an added attraction. Many of these same students continue to associate the taste and aroma of lemonade and cinnamon crisps with art and art exhibits.
Effie-Raye assumed management of her husband’s oil business when he died suddenly. She managed the business until her son completed his MBA at East Carolina University. Then she opened an art gallery to promote local craftsmen and artists. Her granddaughter Terri had given her the nickname, EEii, from the song, “Ole MacDonald Had a Farm”, so the gallery was called “EEii’s little KORNERS of the world”. She opened the gallery on July 3, 1969 with a “Twilight Hour”, which became a tradition as a “kick-off” for Belhaven’s July 4th Celebration.
For more than 30 years, the gallery exhibited and sold the art of hundreds of artists, with a wide variety of backgrounds. Effie-Raye was particularly supportive of art by Meredith College art faculty and alumnae. In 1977 she received Meredith College’s “Distinguished Alumnae Award”.