May 2011

Donella Brown Wilson

Educator and Mentor

At age 101, Mrs. Donella Brown Wilson is a much sought after consultant on matters pertaining to the history and development of the Waverley community and City of Columbia, as well as chronicler of personal family histories. The Fort Motte, South Carolina native grew up on the land where her great grandparents once worked as slaves and where her grandmother taught her simple prayers and read to her from the Bible. During those times, Mrs. Wilson realized that she wanted to teach others to read, and taught herself to read by studying the pages of the Sears & Roebuck catalog by the light of an oil lamp.

Mrs. Wilson realized her dream by attending South Carolina public schools and earning her teaching credentials from Allen University in 1933. She retired in 1971 after achieving her goal of teaching children in the mostly rural counties of South Carolina to read. She and her husband, the late Rev. John R. Wilson, Sr., also an educator, purchased a home in Waverley, where both were active in community, civic, and religious affairs as teachers, mentors and advisors to persons throughout the state and beyond.

Mrs. Wilson cherishes the fact that she has voted in every election since 1947 and continues to promote the importance of voting to youth and other citizens. She is a life member of the N.A.A.C.P., South Carolina Education Association (SCEA), Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. and Union Baptist Church. She is also past national superintendent in the United Order of Tents, Inc.