Three South Carolina State Alumni Celebrated Their 109th, 105th, & 100th Birthdays This Month


September 24, 2021

It’s a centenarian celebration!

Three South Carolina State University alumni celebrated their 109th, 105th and 100th birthdays this month, ABC 4 News reports. 

Ms. Ethel Margaret Richburg earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from SC State, eventually undergoing a four decade career as an elementary school teacher. Richburg was inducted into the Clarendon County Education Hall of Fame in 1994. Even after her educational career concluded, she continued to serve her community, working the polls for every election for the past two decades. Currently, Ms. Richburg lives in Nashville, Tennessee with her 86-year-old daughter, recently celebrating her 109th birthday on September 5th. 


Mrs. Mae Cora Peterson was born in Columbia, SC, moving to Orangeburg shortly after, the daughter of a timber cutter and brick masonry professor at The Colored Normal, Industrial, Agricultural, and Mechanical College of South Carolina, today known as SC State University. 

During her time at the SC State, Peterson became a member of the first pledge class of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority in 1934, going on to graduate in 1937 and attending graduate school at the University of Michigan. Peterson then relocated to Fort Worth, Texas, working as an executive secretary for the segregated branch of the Fort Worth WYCA, marrying and giving birth to three children. She became an educator and the dean of girls at Dunbar High School in Fort Worth, working there for nearly 27 years before her retirement in 1980. She continues to work with the Senior Services of Greater Tarrant County and is a supporter of the Fort Worth Symphony. 

Currently, Mrs. Peterson resides in a senior living facility where she has remained an active member of the Dallas-Fort Worth Chapter of the SC State National Alumni Association, serving as a speaker at their very first scholarship banquet in 2016. She was honored as a Stellar Alumnae in the SCSU 2017 calendar. On September 14th, Mrs. Peterson celebrated her 105th birthday. 


Ms. Johnnie Mae Lee was a member of the Class of 1943 at SC State. The Anderson, South Carolina native was the first of 11 children born to Syrus S. and Mabel Coaxum Lee. Growing up she was always involved in the church and community, attending Reed Street High School where she graduated as salutatorian of her class. She attended South Carolina A&M, now known as SC State University on a scholarship, earning her bachelor’s in education. She returned to her high school where she taught for a year. 

Lee would eventually move to New York City, attending graduate school at Teacher’s College at Columbia University and Brooklyn College. She subsequently worked for the city’s Department of Health in the finance department as a principal Administrative Associate. Lee retired from the NYC Government after 37 years. On September 10th, she celebrated her 100th birthday. She is thankful to have traveled extensively and be surrounded by a host of loving siblings, family and friends. 

Happy Birthday, ladies!! Because of you, we can!


Photo Courtesy of ABC News 4

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