3 chosen for this year's Women's Honor Roll

Special to The Sumter Item
Posted 2/25/18

Special to The Sumter ItemThursday begins National Women's History Month, observed here by Sumter Volunteers, Inc., which annually honors outstanding citizens to the Women's Honor Roll of Sumter. The organization has named three accomplished women …

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3 chosen for this year's Women's Honor Roll


Thursday begins National Women's History Month, observed here by Sumter Volunteers, Inc., which annually honors outstanding citizens to the Women's Honor Roll of Sumter. The organization has named three accomplished women to the 2018 roll and will induct them officially at 3 p.m. Thursday during a ceremony at The Visitors Center at Swan Lake-Iris Gardens.

Sumter Volunteers Executive Director Jo Anne Morris has announced this year's honorees to be the late Margaret Ellen "Maisie" Roper Burns, Carole Ann McCollum Carberry and Yolanda Debra Chambers-Wilson. Their addition will bring to 117 the total number of women on the roll, Morris said.

March also marks the 40th anniversary of Women's History Month, initially started as Women's History Week in the Sonoma County, California, schools for education. It was not until 1981 that Women's History Week was made an official national observance. The observance grew, and Congress voted in 1967 to make it a monthly observance.

The YWCA of the Upper Lowlands began the local observance of Women's History Month in 1991, and two years later, Sumter Volunteers established the Women's Honor Roll of Sumter County. That first year, 20 women were added to the roll posthumously, and Lady Banksiae roses were planted in their honor. The 117 women on the roll have contributed in many different ways to Sumter's history, culture and general welfare. Since then, a permanent planting of the roses has been established on the east and west sides of the Sumter County Civic Center on West Liberty Street.

A plaque listing all 117 hangs upstairs in the Patriot Hall foyer inside the Sumter County Cultural Center on Haynsworth Street; names can be added only during Women's History Month.

Morris said the public, especially friends and relatives of the honorees, are invited to Thursday's recognition ceremony and reception for the three new inductees. The program begins at 3 p.m. in the Swan Lake Visitors Center.

For more information about the ceremony, the Women's Honor Roll of Sumter or Sumter Volunteers Inc., call Morris at (803) 775-7423.

Margaret Ellen 'Maisie' Roper Burns

Mrs. Burns was born Sept. 12, 1919, in Clio, the second of five children, to Thomas Wesley Roper and Mary Theodora Ortmann Roper. She received an associate degree from the University of South Carolina and at 19 was overseeing the payroll for the DuPont operations in Richmond, Virginia.

In 1943, she attended the Midshipman's School at Smith College and later the Navy Supply Corps School at Radcliff College. The then-Miss Roper became a U.S. Naval Reserve ensign in the W.A.V.E.S. (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Services). She was promoted to lieutenant in 1944.

It was during her years in the Navy that she became known as "Maisie." She was released from active duty in 1946 and received an honorable discharge in 1951.

Maisie met Cornelius Benton Burns, a physician in the Army Medical Corps, while she was stationed in New Orleans. The couple married there in 1946 and following his honorable discharge moved to Orangeburg to set up Dr. Burns' medical practice. They later moved to Columbia before making their home in Sumter.

Maisie was active in many organizations over the next 50 years. She served as room mother for each of her four children when they were in elementary school, volunteered in the school library and was active in the PTA. She was also active in Brownie, Girl Scout and Cub Scout programs and participated in teaching many underprivileged children to swim.

As a member of the Church of the Holy Comforter, Maisie was a Sunday School teacher, a member of the choir, the Altar Guild, the Episcopal Church Women and served on the vestry. She helped to establish the church's chapter of Daughters of the King, as well.

Throughout Dr. Burns' medical career, Maisie served in many positions on the local, state and national levels. She also served as chairwoman of the local March of Dimes. Following her husband's retirement and his later illness, she focused on his total care needs.

In the Sumter Garden Club, Maisie became a Master Flower Show Judge and judged at shows nationwide. Her concern for the environment led her to become involved with Arbor Day activities. She was serving on a national committee when the Woody Owl theme - Give a Hoot! Don't Pollute! - was adopted to engage children in environmental issues.

Maisie belonged to many other organizations, among them the Sumter Junior League, Sumter Little Theatre, Sumter County Historical Association, City of Sumter Parks and Recreation and the S.C. Governor's Council of the Arts and Humanities. In addition, she helped establish the Sumter Gallery of Art, was a charter member of the Sumter Artists Guild and served on the first committee for Historic Camden, Dr. Burns' hometown.

Maisie's other memberships included the Daughters of the American Revolution, Colonial Dames XVII Century, Daughters of the Founders and Patriots of America, the University of South Carolina Caroliniana Society, U.S. Naval Supply Corps Association and the Society of Sponsors of the U.S. Navy.

Among her hobbies were painting, gardening, sewing, quilting and genealogy.

In 1994, Gov. Carroll Campbell recognized Maisie for being named S.C. Mother of the Year.

Maisie Burns passed away on May 26, 2001. People who knew her described her as an elegant lady, a devoted wife, a dedicated Christian, a dear friend and a gracious hostess. She was fully dedicated to all her endeavors, known not only as "a Jack of all trades" but a "master" as well, Maisie also possessed a wonderful sense of humor. Having lived a life of service, she is missed by many.

Carole Ann McCollum Carberry

Mrs. Carberry was born in Great Falls, Montana, and studied art throughout her school years and while an undergraduate at Montana State University and at University of South Carolina in graduate-level printmaking studies.

She moved to South Carolina in 1986 and has been closely involved with the Sumter Artists Guild, serving four times as president.

A Member of Excellence of the South Carolina Watermedia Society, Mrs. Carberry has had her work juried into the society's traveling show in 2012 and 2013. She is in her 20th year as a show exhibitor in Charleston's Piccolo Spoleto Outdoor Art Exhibition in Marion Square. She is also an exhibiting artist at the Sandpiper Art Gallery in Polson, Montana. Mrs. Carberry is currently co-chairwoman for two summer art festivals in Polson.

She was inspired to become an artist at an early age by her paternal grandparents. Both very talented in drawing and painting, a gift shared by her, her siblings and cousins. Mrs. Carberry has been drawing since she was old enough to use pencil and paper.

As a young Air Force wife, she said she "was in the right place at the right time to take two wonderful courses from artist Gene Franks in California; fine art pencil gave her the tools to take her pencil drawing to a new level, and techniques learned in egg-tempera method dry-watercolor continues to inform her work in watercolor, oil and acrylic.

Another influence is the work of artist Art LeMay, whose simplicity of composition she admires - "beautifully rendered birds anchored firmly on a large negative space."

A multimedia artist, Mrs. Carberry enjoys calligraphy printmaking and painting in mediums. Her favorites are watercolor, which she has been doing for more than 40 years, and most recently, acrylic on canvas.

Currently, she is working on new pieces in preparation for Piccolo Spoleto. Many are long-necked birds painted in acrylic on canvas.

Yolanda Debra Chambers-Wilson

Known to most people as Debra or Debbie, Ms. Wilson is the executive director of the YWCA of the Upper Lowlands Inc. She is committed to the mission of the YWCA - eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all. She is an advocate against domestic violence, empowering both men and women who have been abused to escape and recover from domestic violence.

As a certified Victim Service Provider, Ms. Wilson serves as a support to protect victims from the media during trials and hearings, minimizing invasion of privacy. She also assists children of all ages in recovering from potentially devastating effects of domestic violence, sexual abuse and other typologies.

Ms. Wilson received a Bachelor of Science degree in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of South Carolina and a Master of Science degree in Human Resource Management from Troy State University. She is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., the Young Women's Christian Association, the League of Women Voters and the Forum.

Born in Sumter County, Ms. Wilson is the daughter of Clara Cureton-Chambers and the late Cleveland Chambers Sr. She is the mother of two daughters, Calaundra Wilson Razor and Clarissa Wilson Williams, and the grandmother of four.

In her personal time, Ms. Wilson enjoys bowling, singing gospel music, cooking and being with family and friends. She attends Emmanuel United Methodist Church and states as her life purpose to be a servant for God and to share the love of Christ to others every day in some capacity.