Sumter Volunteers Inc. has announced the 2017 class of the Women's Honor Roll of Sumter County. In celebration of National Women's History Month, the organization will add Sumterites Edna Davis, the late Myrtis Julia Logan and Annette Jeter Hill Mathis to the roll for their outstanding contributions to the community.
Jo Anne Morris, executive director of Sumter Volunteers, said the public is invited to a 3 p.m. induction ceremony and reception for the honorees on Tuesday, March 21, during Women's History Month, at Swan Lake Visitors Center. The date also marks the 25th year of the Women of Honor program.
It was only 39 years ago that the national celebration of Women's History Month began as Women's History Week, an educational project intended solely for schools in Sonoma County, California.
Congress passed a resolution making National Women's History Week official in 1981. Six years later, the recognition of women's contributions to history had grown so much that Congress expanded the celebration to a month.
The month has been observed in Sumter since 1991 under the leadership of the YWCA of the Upper Lowlands. In 1993, Sumter Volunteers established The Women's Honor Roll of Sumter County to recognize women who have made outstanding contributions to the area's culture and history. Initially, 20 women were honored posthumously, and Lady Banksiae roses were planted in their honor on the pergola in Volunteer Park, located originally at the corner of North Magnolia and East Calhoun streets.
Since the first observance, 111 additional women have been honored and a permanent rose planting installed on the east and west sides of the Sumter Civic Center on West Liberty Street. Morris said these roses serve as living monuments to all the honorees.
In addition, all honorees' names are listed on the Honor Roll of Outstanding Women of Sumter County, a plaque that hangs in the foyer of Patriot Hall in the Sumter County Cultural Center on Haynsworth Street. Names are added to the list only during Women's History Month.
With the addition of this year's honorees the honor roll will number 114, Morris said.
The public is invited to attend Tuesday's recognition ceremony and reception for the 2017 Sumter Volunteers Women of Honor at the Swan Lake Visitors Center on West Liberty Street. For more information about Sumter Volunteers Inc., the Women's Honor Roll of Sumter County or Tuesday afternoon's ceremony and reception, call Morris at (803) 775-7423.
EDNA LOUISE DAVIS
Dr. Edna Louise Davis was born in Sumter to the late Dr. Thomas B. and Edna Lowery Davis. The family moved to Tuskegee, Alabama, a few years later and lived on the Government Reservation, where she began school in the Children's House of Tuskegee Institute.
After graduating the high school of Tuskegee Institute as valedictorian, Dr. Davis studied music on the college level for two years in the Institute's music department. At Oberlin Conservatory of Music, she earned her Bachelor of Music degree, membership in Pi Kappa Lambda National Honor Society in Music and Master of Music Education degree; she had also earned credits at Juilliard School of Music in New York City. She received her Doctor of Musical Arts degree at Boston University.
Following the receipt of her bachelor's degree, Dr. Davis joined the staff at Jackson State College (now University) in Jackson, Mississippi, where she accompanied the choir, gave piano instruction and taught music classes in the Department of Creative and Recreative Arts. As a member of the Harmonia Music Club in Jackson, she performed often as a pianist.
After 10 years on the Jackson State faculty, Dr. Davis left in 1955 to teach at Elizabeth City, North Carolina State College, where her first duties were the same as they had been at Jackson. She became head of the Music Department in 1964, with mostly administrative duties, a few piano students and taught Music Theory.
Within the community, Dr. Davis became active with the Posquotank County Arts Council, the Albemarle Museum, the National Council of Negro Women as president, the Federated Women's Club, the Music Club, the Elizabeth City Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority as president, and Antioch Presbyterian Church as musician.
She was promoted to the rank of professor and became chairwoman of the Music Department as the college became a university. Upon her retirement from ECSU after 30 years, Dr. Davis was made professor emerita.
Returning to Sumter as a retiree, she became active with several community organizations, including the Sumter-Shaw Community Concert Association as board member; she was also instrumental in reorganizing the Sumter Music Guild, serving as vice president.
Over the following years, she has been elected president of the Mary McLeod Bethune Section of the National Council of Negro Women, the One More Effort Federated Club of the National Association of Colored Women's Clubs, the Sumter County Gallery of Art and the YWCA of the Upper Lowlands; vice president of the Sumter County Museum and treasurer of the Walker Cemetery Association.
Dr. Davis was a member of the Sumter County Cultural Arts Commission, served on the planning committee for the Bicentennial of the City of Sumter, and Sumter Volunteers Inc. projects of My Community and Me and Make a Difference Day.
She played piano for programs of Church Women United of the Greater Sumter area and was accompanist of the Sanctuary Choir at Goodwill Presbyterian Church, where she is a deacon and former trustee.
Dr. Davis' many awards and citations for her services to community include a 1993 Woman of Achievement award from the YWCA, recognition as Humanitarian of the Year in 1997 by Sumter County NAACP and as Homecoming Honoree at Goodwill Presbyterian Church in 2011. In 2002, the S.C. Senate and House of Representatives cited her for distinguished services to the citizens of Sumter County.
Her 50 years of membership have been recognized nationally by the American Association of University Professors and the Music Educators National Conference. The Delta Sigma Theta Sorority has recognized Dr. Davis on both the local and national levels, and she has been a member of Kappa Delta Pi International Honor Society in education for 53 years.
ANNETTE JETER MATTHEWS
Annette Jeter Hill Matthews is the daughter of the late Rowland Glenn Hill and Letitia Walker Hill of Union. She graduated from Columbia College with a degree in Piano Performance and English Literature. She was elected into Alpha Kappa Gamma leadership fraternity and into Who's Who in American Universities and Colleges. It was at Columbia College where she met Professor Guthrie Darr and began accompanying all of his college choral groups. She later became his accompanist for the Columbia Choral Society and the Carolina Chorale for many years.
She did graduate study in piano at Columbia University in New York where she studied with the renowned teacher, Dr. Thomas Richner.
Mrs. Matthews came to Sumter to teach music at McLaurin Junior High School. It is here in Sumter that she met her beloved husband, James Eugene Matthews, and they were happily married for 54 years until his death. Their oldest son, Dan Matthews, is the principal of Camden High School. He is married to Lynn Rabon Matthews and they have a son, Roland and daughter, Meg Matthews.
Their younger son, Gene Matthews, is a lawyer in Columbia and a captain in Naval Intelligence as a reservist. His wife is Beth Whetsell Matthews. They have a daughter, Elizabeth Anne, and two sons, Hamilton Matthews and Madison Matthews.
Mrs. Matthews' family is and has always been the most important part of her life.
She is an accomplished pianist who gives generously of her time and talent to her church, Trinity United Methodist, and her community. She has accompanied musicals at the Sumter Little Theatre and many vocal soloists. She has performed solo and duo piano recitals throughout the Southeast with her partners Mary Tatum and Eddie Huss.
Mrs. Matthews has taught piano for many years and judged numerous piano competitions in South Carolina and Georgia. She is a past board member of the South Carolina Music Teacher Association and also a member of The Music Teacher National Association. She is a member of the Woman's Afternoon Music Club, The Sumter Art Association, The Sumter Piano Teachers and The Book Club.
MYRTIS BAKER LOGAN
Myrtis Julia Baker Logan was born in Culverton, Georgia, in 1909. She graduated from Winthrop College in 1930 and received the Mary Mildred Sullivan Award for outstanding alumnae in 1972.
Following her graduation from Winthrop, Mrs. Logan taught school in Johnsonville and then in Sumter until her marriage to Joe Logan in 1935. The Logans had three children - Agnes, who is deceased, Joe and Gordon.
Active in First Presbyterian Church for many years, Mrs. Logan also taught Bible lessons at Miller School in the 1940s, and she was a Red Cross Safety instructor during World War II.
A longtime active member of the PTA at Willow Drive Elementary, she also served as president of the Sumter County PTA Council in 1959 and was a member of the Sumter School District 17 school board in the late 1950s and early '60s.
An active member of the Sumter Altrusa Club, Mrs. Logan also received the Service to Mankind Award from Sumter Sertoma Club in 1970. That same year, she was named Sumter's Mother of the Year, and in 1972, she was selected as South Carolina Merit Mother of the Year.
Mrs. Logan was an active member in the Poinsett Garden Club, which she served as president and Garden Therapy chairwoman, was a nationally accredited flower judge and served as district Garden Club of South Carolina chairwoman. She was also a life member of those organizations and a patron of Sumter Little Theatre, the Sumter-Shaw Community Concert Association and the Sumter County Gallery of Art.
Some of Mrs. Logan's most significant contributions to the community were through the Mental Health Association, which she served as president and state coordinator of volunteer services. In that capacity, she established a social club for patients released from the state mental hospital.
Another of her interests was a camp for children near Clemson, which was later named Camp Logan in her honor. Mrs. Logan died in 1976.
In 2015, the Logan Foundation, which Mrs. Logan established in the 1970s, funded a building at the new Santee-Wateree Mental Health Outpatient Clinic campus in Sumter, 2015.
Most recently, the Logan Foundation pledged its largest gift ever to be used for the construction of a free-standing Training and Conference Center to be built on the same property that will also have a new facility that will house the administrative operations for the Santee-Wateree Community Mental Health Center, as well as a new outpatient mental health clinic to serve the residents of Sumter. The Training and Conference Center will be adjacent to the Center's main facility and will be named the "Myrtis Logan Training and Conference Center" in honor of Mrs. Logan. Both facilities will be located on North Pike West at the former site of the "Skyview Drive-In" movie theater.