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Information from the

Chandler–Jackson Funeral Home

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DUE WEST, SC – Sarah May McFerrin, 85, of Covenant Way in Due West, SC died April 27, 2012 at Hospice Care of the Piedmont in Greenwood, SC. She was the daughter of the late Dr. and Mrs. (Velma) J.B. McFerrin. There are no surviving members of her immediate family.

Born in Cotton Plant, Miss., she lived in seven states before stopping in Due West. Her father was an Associate Reformed Presbyterian (Home Missionary) minister thus all the moves. She had lived in Due West from 1964 until the present time. She was a long time member of the Due West ARP Church. She was a Sunday school teacher there for 45 plus years.

She was active in the Women’s Work of the church, having served in all departments of the work over the years. She served as President of the Due West Foreign Missionary Society several times. She was involved in mission work especially in Mexico. She and her parents built two churches in the Huasteca Mountains of Mexico near Valles and visited and worked in the mission work in Mexico on eight different occasions.

During her employment days, she taught high school History for 12 years at Calhoun Falls, SC and Glynn Academy at Brunswick, Georgia and self-contained 8th graders at Elsberry, MO. She then went to USC in Columbia, SC, to get her master’s degree in Counseling. She was one of the first class (6) to get a degree in counseling in the State of SC. She begun her counseling and continued for 26 years and enjoyed every minute of her teaching career. She did counseling at Abbeville High School, Dixie High School (Due West), Wright Middle School, Carver Middle School and Elementary Schools-Donalds, Antreville and Due West.

These were all schools in Abbeville County and were being mandated by the state to set up counseling programs. She was the first and only counselor in the county for several years. She was active in the Abbeville County and South Carolina and National Educational Associations.

She held offices on all three levels and received funding many times from various organizations, (example, General Electric) to attend Institutes, free of charge, to upgrade her certificate and improve her knowledge of counseling in different Universities in the Southeast. The State Department of Education asked her to set up guidelines for counseling as none were available when she started counseling.

Funeral services will be conducted Sunday April 29, 2012 at 3:00 PM in the Due West ARP Church with the Rev. Calvin Draffin officiating. The burial will follow in the church cemetery. Honorary pallbearers will be members of the Session at the Due West ARP Church.

In lieu of flowers memorials may be made to Covenant Way 18 Frank Pressley Drive Due West, SC 29639, Due West ARP Church 112 North Main St. Due West, SC 29639 or Hospice Care of the Piedmont 408 West Alexander Ave. Greenwood, SC 29646.


Below is an article about Miss McFerrin and her impact on the Due West Retirement Center


Due West Retirement Center Celebrates 20th Anniversary

by Richard Haldeman

It took faith for Margaret Cathcart, Lydie Thomas, and Sarah May McFerrin to move into the Due West Retirement Center almost two decades ago. The road through the center was still unpaved, creating muddy or dusty conditions, depending upon the weather.

Their faith was rewarded. As an original resident and two of the longest term residents of the center, they not only saw the road paved, but the center beautifully landscaped and state-of-the-art facilities built to serve 100 independent living, assisted living, and nursing care residents.

As approximately 200 persons participated in an Open House June 9 celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Due West Retirement Center, the three longtime residents remembered how the center has developed and changed. Mrs. Cathcart is the only original resident still living in the center, having moved in when it opened in September 1983. Mrs. Thomas and Miss McFerrin moved in two years later, with Mrs. Thomas occupying one of the first cluster apartments and Miss McFerrin moving into one of the first houses.

The expansion of the center has benefited Mrs. Cathcart, who moved into the Wylie Assisted Care facility two years ago, after living in the same independent living apartment for 18 years. Mrs. Thomas still lives in the same apartment she moved into 18 years ago. Miss McFerrin continues to live in the house built 18 years ago for her parents, Dr. and Mrs. J.B. McFerrin, for whom she was caregiver until their deaths.

All are enthusiastic about the center. “I like everything about the center. I’ve been very pleased,” Mrs. Cathcart says. “You can’t beat the staff and people here. We’re a happy bunch,” Miss McFerrin states. Mrs. Thomas adds. “I prayed about it a long time and felt this was the place for me. We’re well taken care of. Everyone’s happy.”

Mrs. Cathcart, a nurse who graduated from University of South Carolina and Johns Hopkins School of Nursing, had considered Lutheran and Presbyterian retirement centers before Dr. Gordon Parkinson sold her on the Due West Retirement Center in 1981 – two years before it opened. She put down a deposit before visiting the center with her sister. Though she saw “nothing but open fields except for the Andrus house-no shrubbery, no nothing,” she stood by her decision.

Mrs. Thomas, originally from Honea Path, lived in Savannah, Ga., but looked for a retirement center near her relatives there following her husband’s death. She had a conference with the late Dr. Betty Berrios, first director of the center, and decided to take one of the independent living apartments being built for the center.

Miss McFerrin, former guidance counselor at Dixie High School, retired in order to move with her parents in one of the first houses built at the center. Several years underage for the center at the time, she assisted Dr. Berrios in the office for several years. She has also written a column for Due West’s semi-weekly newspaper, The Village Observer, for 18 years.

Mrs. Cathcart, now in her late 80s, continues to have one of the most interesting backgrounds among center residents. As a young nurse before World War II, the Columbia native met and married physician Dr. John W. Cathcart, before he was called to duty as a captain in the Medical Corps of the 24th Division during World War II.
Captain Cathcart was killed in the Philippines in May 1945, just four months after the birth of the Cathcarts’ daughter, Virginia (Ginny).

Mrs. Cathcart reared her daughter in her husband’s hometown of Winnsboro, adopting his Associate Reformed Presbyterian faith. Ginny Cathcart, graduated from the ARP denomination’s Erskine College in Due West. While training as a medical technologist in Charleston, Ginny Cathcart met and married a young physician, Dr. J.G. (Jerry) Reves, now dean and vice president of Medical University of South Carolina. Dr. and Mrs. Reves have given Mrs. Cathcart three granddaughters.

In 1979 Mrs. Cathcart moved to Birmingham, Ala., with her daughter and son-in-law and began looking for a retirement center in South Carolina. Two years later she read an advertisement for the Due West Retirement Center placed by Dr. Parkinson in theAssociate Reformed Presbyterian Magazine. She remembered Dr. Parkinson as Ginny’s chemistry professor at Erskine, so she called him, met him in Greenville, and placed a down payment on an apartment. Two years later she became one of the center’s original residents, at a time when the center consisted of a single unit.

She remembers the early staff and residents of the center with great fondness, especially DWRC director, Dr. Betty Berrios, and residents Jean Carwile, Dr. and Mrs. J.M. Lesesne (“Tum” and “Totsy”), Martha Jones, Rev. John Brawley, Mary Alice Brawley, and Martha Jones. “I didn’t know any of these people before coming to the center, but we got along fine. I can’t give Dr. Berrios enough praise. I’m amazed at how she was able to take care of her invalid mother and us too.”

Sarah May McFerrin’s interest in the Due West Retirement Center also predates its opening. As a resident of Due West and daughter of the retired pastor of McCormick A.R. Presbyterian Church, she found the center particularly suited for her parents’ retirement.

Though the McFerrins did not move into the center until 1985, Sarah May remembers, “We were among the first to give money to get the center started. I grew with the center – I even saw the first tree fall (15 acres of wooded property given by Mr. and Mrs. George Andrus were given for the DWRC). Each addition has enhanced the beauty of this place and its service to its residents. I’m glad we now have the three stages. The nursing staff is excellent.”

The women also commented on how a more diversified population has enriched life at the center. Lydie Thomas says, “Originally the residents were mostly ARPs. Now we have people from many denominations and many places.” Miss McFerrin adds, “We have residents from California, New York, Germany, Australia, England, and many other places.”

With the growth and diversification of the center have come increases in activities. “We have games every day and are taken grocery shopping once a week,” Mrs. Thomas says. “Any time we want to take a vacation, we are free to go, though we sign out for safety’s sake.” Mrs. Thomas, now 96, is among many residents continuing an active life well into their 90s.

All the women believe that the friendships and interplay between residents are what makes the Due West Retirement Center special. In order that all residents learn to know each other, table assignments for lunch are rotated, a suggestion made by Miss McFerrin.

“The residents are so pleasant. We get to know all of them,” Mrs. Thomas says.” “Everyone looks happy. They’re talking to each other.” She adds that “the meals are good and nutritious.”

The longtime residents also praise the staff. Mrs. Cathcart comments, “We have privacy. That’s important. But any time you need help it’s available.” Mrs. Thomas remembers, “I was well taken care of after I had a heart attack.” Miss McFerrin adds, “I received good care after I had both knees operated on. The staff is outstanding. I’ve never seen a group of people so competent.”

The women have known all four executive directors of the center and have praise for current director Paul Bell. They fondly remember a number of former staff members, including Thelma Marshall, head of housekeeping.

Among former residents Mrs. Thomas and Miss McFerrin particularly remember are Nancy Divver, Mary Alice Brawley, Helen McFerrin, and Ruth Walters.

Mrs. Thomas has advice for any persons considering a retirement center, “Come while you’re able to come. You need to come while you’re able to make your own decision.”

For those considering Due West Retirement Center, Mrs. Cathcart says, “I would recommend it.” Miss McFerrin asks, “What are you waiting for?” She adds, “Praise God for a place like this,” to which Mrs. Thomas adds, “where people can go and enjoy themselves.”

The 20th anniversary open house was held during the 200th anniversary meeting of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian General Synod. The meeting of Synod was held in Due West for the first time in 22 years. The Due West Retirement Center is a ministry of Second Presbytery of the A.R. Presbyterian Church.


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