Miss Mary Elizabeth Sanders
HARLEM, Ga. - Miss Mary Elizabeth Sanders, 97, of Harlem,
entered into rest on Monday, September 6, 2010, in Augusta.
Miss Sanders was born on September 12, 1912 to the late Mr.
and Mrs. Will E. and Laurelia Pettis Sanders. She was the oldest
of three children. She was preceded in death by her parents and
brothers, Rufus H. Sanders, Sr., and Marion Timothy Sanders, Sr.
She attended Pollard Academy in Columbia County during her
elementary years. During that time, there were no high schools in
Harlem, GA, for black students, so therefore, her parents, enrolled
her in the Athens High School, Athens. Miss Sanders continued
her education at Savannah State University, receiving her bachelor
of science degree in education. Still continuing her educational
path, she then earned her masters of education degree from South
Carolina State University.
Miss Sanders began her teaching career when she completed high
school in the mid 1930's. She taught in a one-room schoolhouse in
McDuffie County that did not have electricity or running water at
that time in history. Miss Sander's mother, a teacher, and her father,
a farmer, both had a love of education. They encouraged their only
daughter to continue her education journey while she taught. In
1954 she was hired by John Pierce Blanchard to teach in Columbia
County at Pollard Academy where she began her own education
many years earlier. Afterwards, she became the first Principal of
George T. White Elementary School. Miss Sanders credits the late
John Pierce Blanchard for mentoring her during the many years she
worked for the Columbia County School Board of Education.
Later in her career, she was named Principal of North Harlem
Elementary School where she diligently served 17 years until her
retirement. Miss Sanders, extraordinary educational tenure spanned
a period of 55 years. The awards and accolades Miss Sanders
received during her life are numerous and prestigious. She received
the Distinguished Service Award from the Georgia Association of
Educators, Outstanding Citizen of the Year from the city of Harlem,
GA, and an Administrative Services Award from the McDuffie
County School System to name a few. In 1993 Miss Sanders was
elected to serve on the Columbia County Board of Education. She
was the first and only black elected official in Columbia County
to serve on the committee since the reconstruction. Miss Sanders
organized night classes for veterans following World War II, and
did so for twelve years. Her service to veterans was noted, and she
was also the first woman and the first black to serve on the Georgia
Local Selective Services Board from 1973-1974. Miss Sanders was
a life member of the National Education Association. She served
twice as a delegate at the National Convention. She was also active
in the PTA, both locally and nationally.
She was an active member of New Holt Baptist Church in Harlem,
GA, where she served in many capacities such as, Church Clerk,
Historian, Senior Choir and Missionary Society. In 1996, New
Holt Baptist Church established the "Mary E. Sanders Scholarship
Fund." Miss Sanders was very proud to be a resident of Columbia
County. She was extremely proud of being a life-long resident of
Harlem, GA. On March 1, 1992, a dedication ceremony was held
at North Harlem Elementary School to name their library in Miss
Sander's honor. The mayor of Harlem, GA, also proclaimed it to
be "Mary E. Sanders Day." In 2008, the new community center in
Harlem was named after her as well.
Miss Sanders is survived by her devoted nephews: Rufus H. Sanders,
Jr., Marion Timothy (Clarice) Sanders, Jr., Kenneth (Carmen)
Sanders, I, Ignatius Harris (Victoria) Sanders, Sr., and Warren
(Karen) Voliton; a host of many other relatives and friends.
Funeral services were held on Sunday, September 12, 2010, at 2
p.m. at the New Holt Baptist Church.
Contributions may be made to the "Mary E. Sanders Scholarship
Fund" at the New Holt Baptist Church in lieu of flowers.
Miss Sander's nephews served as pallbearers.
Thomson Funeral System was in charge of arrangements.
Web posted on Thursday, September 16, 2010