October 2009

Bernice Putman

Pioneer-Early Childhood Care

A true pioneer of early childhood education, Bernice Putman founded “The Baby Tender”, the first child early childhood development center for black children in Fountain Inn.

A native of Greenville County, she was reared in Jacksonville, Florida where she received her early education.  She and her family returned to South Carolina upon the discharge of her father from the military.  She attended high school for a while before becoming a high school drop-out; however, at the age of 25, she returned to Bryson High School and in 1955 she completed her studies.

At age 61, Putman found time to earn her bachelor’s degree in Sociology from Newberry College, as well as an associate degree in Criminal Justice from Greenville Technical College.  Her love and concern for children has extended to the care of over 50 foster children.

Co-founder of the Miss Black South Carolina Activities pageant for the Golden Strip, she has also worked as a recruiter for Head Start, Job Corps, JPTA, and CETA.  Putman retired from service with the Greenville County Disabilities and Special Needs Board after supervising a living program facility in Fountain Inn for 18 years.

She has authored several pamphlets, including “Re-Orientation of the Senior Citizen through Music and Poetry, and “The Church’s Position on Person’s with Special Needs and Disabilities.”

Putman served as Grand Matron for Queen of the South Grand Chapter, International F&M Masons and Order of the Eastern Star, where she served as a regional and national O.E.S. officer.