Wednesday, October 9, 2013
Bernice Carter, who lives in the Hemingway area — but grew up in Carvers Bay — leads a very busy life.
Four days a week she volunteers at the senior center in Hemingway where she plays the piano. She helps with other area senior programs, occasionally plays piano at her church — New Good Hope United Methodist in Pleasant Hill — and hosts a senior luncheon at her home twice each month.
Last year, she successfully got her driver's license renewed.
She does all this — and she turned 100 years old on Oct. 1.
On Sunday, a party was held in her honor at her church where a packed fellowship hall gathered to wish her well and to share memories they have made with her over the years.
Carter, the widow of Clifford Carter who was a Methodist minister, was born in Carvers Bay in 1913. The schools she attended were both destroyed by fire decades ago.
Carter said she attended Good Hope School during her elementary years and graduated from Union High School.
She said at the time it was the only high school in Georgetown County with the exception of the schools within Georgetown's city limits.
Carter did not attend college immediately after high school. She got married and decided to go to college about ten years later after she and her husband moved from Georgetown County because he was hired to pastor a church in the Upstate.
She first attended Central College — now known as Southern Wesleyan University — where she will be honored later this month during the college's homecoming activities.
In 1956 Carter received a degree in education from the University of South Carolina.
For the following three decades she taught at various schools in the state, changing schools when her husband would be hired at different churches.
She taught in elementary schools, mainly first grade, in places such as Laurens County, Greenville County and Oconee, saying “I loved those children so much.”
Not only did she teach during those years, Carter was also the piano player in the churches at which her husband ministered, and she was raising two children — Travis Carter and Novyce King.
In 1987, after Mr. Carter's retirement, the couple moved back to the Hemingway area.
When talking about her volunteer work at the senior center, Carter likes to joke she goes to play the piano “for the old people.”
Her son, Travis, uses the word “amazing” to describe his mother.
“She is the busiest and most involved person I know,” he said. “She still lives by herself. She still washes her own clothes. She is incredible.”
King said her mother “is not only the rock of our family, she is the soft lace we can fall to when we need it.”
In 2010, Carter had cataract surgery which helped her revive her 20/20 vision.
Last year, at age 99, Carter passed the vision test and her driver's license was renewed.
She mainly drives around the Hemingway and Pleasant Hill areas.
One thing she rarely does is miss a church service.
“I don't care if it's raining or if it's snowing or if no one else is there. Mrs. Bernice will be at church,” said Katrina McClellan, a member of the same church. “She loves everybody.”
Of course, at age 100, Carter is routinely asked about the secret to her longevity.
“Just enjoy God's blessings and live a good life,” Carter said. “Paul teaches us to try to be content with what you have. That is how I try to be. That is my motto. You have to make your own happiness.”
And although she was enjoying a good old fashioned chicken bog and macaroni and cheese at her party, Carter said eating such foods should be saved for special occasions.
“I eat a lot of peas. A whole lot of peas. And all kinds of vegetables and fruit,” she said.
Carter said she feels the technology the world has now makes things better “but I don't mess with any of it,” she said of computers.
She said she has been on other people's Facebook pages but does not have one of her own.
S.C. Sen. Yancey McGill had a proclamation drafted in Carter's honor which was presented to her Sunday by Brad Richardson.
The proclamation describes Carter as a “loving and devoted wife, mother and grandmother” and an “active member of the United Methodist Church for over 80 years.”
“She has been a blessing and an inspiration to all who have known her,” the proclamation states.