Three graduates of South Carolina State University celebrated birthdays of at least 100 years during the month of September.
Ms. Ethel Margaret Richburg turned 109 on Sept. 5.
She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from SC State, leading to a 40-year career as an elementary school teacher in Clarendon and Berkeley counties. In 1994, she was inducted into the Clarendon County Education Hall of Fame.
Richburg also worked the polls for every election for two decades.
She now lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with her 86-year-old daughter.
Mrs. Mae Cora Peterson, Class of 1937, turned 105 years old on Tuesday, Sept. 14.
She was born in Columbia, but her family moved to Orangeburg shortly after her birth. Her father, Elliott Lee Stewart, cut timber for buildings at The Colored Normal, Industrial, Agricultural, and Mechanical College of South Carolina — now known as South Carolina State University. He also taught brick masonry at the school.
It was at SC State that she became a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority in its first pledge class of 1934. She later attended graduate school at the University of Michigan.
She relocated to Fort Worth, Texas, on her own to start her career as executive secretary for the segregated branch of the Fort Worth WYCA in 1943. She married in 1947 and had three children.
Mrs. Peterson was an educator at various schools and became dean of girls at the Fort Worth’s Dunbar High School, where she worked 27 years before retiring in 1980. She has stayed active with community organizations, including Senior Services of Greater Tarrant County, and has been an avid supporter of the Fort Worth Symphony.
She now resides in a senior living facility in Mansfield, Texas, and remains active in the Dallas-Fort Worth Chapter of the SC State National Alumni Association. She served as the speaker at the chapter’s first scholarship banquet in 2016. She was featured as a Stellar Alumnae in the month of April in the SCSU 2017 calendar.
Ms. Johnnie Mae Lee, Class of 1943, celebrated her 100th birthday on Sept. 10.
She is a native of Anderson, South Carolina and the first of 11 children of the late Cyrus S. and Mabel Coaxum Lee.
At an early age she attended Bethel A.M.E. Church in Anderson and was involved in many of the church and community activities. She received her earliest education at South Fant Street School and later attended Reed Street High School graduating with honors as the salutatorian of her class.
Ms. Lee received a scholarship and attended South Carolina A & M (now SC State University), earning a bachelor’s degree in education in 1943. She returned to Anderson as a teacher at Reed Street School for a year.
Later, relocating to New York City, she pursued graduate studies at Teacher’s College at Columbia University and Brooklyn College. She accepted a position with the city’s Department of Health. Later, with a promotion, she transferred to the Department of Finance as a principal Administrative Associate. Ms. Lee retired after 37 years of service with NYC Government.
Ms. Lee has traveled extensively and has a beautiful and loving relationship with her family of six siblings and many nieces, nephews and friends.
She has resided in Cambria Heights, New York, for 43 years.