Mrs. Roberta Samuel Dannelly Durant, the daughter of the late Robert S. and Minnie Smith Dannelly was born on May 15, 1922 in Bishopville, South Carolina. She died Monday, May 10, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia.
She graduated from Browning Home and Mather Academy in Camden, and earned a B.S. Degree from South Carolina State College (now University) in Orangeburg, and an M.A. Degree from Teachers College, Columbia University, New York City, with further study at Francis Marion College (now University) and the University of South Carolina.
She was married to the late Robert A. Durant, Sr.
A retired Elementary School Teacher with 33 years’ experience, she began at Bettis Academy and Junior College in Trenton, South Carolina. During World War II, she worked for the U.S. Employment Service (now the North Carolina Division of Employment Security) in Wilmington, North Carolina. Returning to education, she taught at Palmetto Elementary School in Mullins, South Carolina, Little Rock Elementary School and New Holly Elementary School in Dillon County, and Drayton Street High School in Newberry, South Carolina.
In Florence she taught sixth grade at Carver Elementary School as well as Summer School, and Summer Head Start, and evening Adult Literacy Classes.
Students learned through her compassion and insistence on fundamentals, absorbing lessons of positive self-talk and pride that African Americans had to possess in order to cope with the challenges during that segregated time. Like other teachers, she also visited pupils’ homes in the evenings to meet with parents, discuss a child’s scholastic performance and help devise ways in which time could be set aside for homework amidst normal chores and responsibilities.
Following integration, she continued imparting knowledge and being a role model and advocate of respect for others. She was one of the first African Americans assigned to formerly all-white McKenzie Elementary School in Florence School District One. She later taught at Moore Middle School.
She was a loyal and active member of Cumberland United Methodist Church, where she served as Youth Counselor and Coordinator, Cub Scout Den Mother, Girl Scout Leader, Sunday School Teacher, and Tutor at the Cumberland Outreach Center. She also served with the Administrative Board (now Council), Trustee Board, Finance Committee, Pastor-Parish Committee, Credit Union Board and Credit Committee, Race and Religion Committee, Restoration/Renovation Committee, Interest Area No. 3 (Circle), “We Care, We Share” Mission Team (visits sick and shut-ins), and United Methodist Women (UMW).
She was Stewardship Chairperson and Program Resource Person and Treasurer for Cumberland UMW, District Trustee, Program Resource Person and Treasurer for Florence District UMW, and served on the District Committee on Ordained Ministry.
She served with Lighthouse Ministries, the Pelican House Board, the Florence County Mental Health Board, and was Secretary for the Florence County Palmetto Teachers’ Association, Treasurer of the Florence County Education Association – Retired Vice President of AARP, member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and received a Shriners award for Leadership.
A charter member of the Epsilon Chi Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha (AKA) Sorority, she served as President and Treasurer and achieved Diamond Soror status honoring her then-75 years in the AKA.
Roberta was pre-deceased by a son, Robert A. Durant, Jr.
She leaves to cherish her memories: a son, William H. Durant (Charlotte) of Jonesboro, Georgia; a daughter, Vida A. Durant of Atlanta, Georgia; a brother, Charlie S. Dannelly (Rose) of Charlotte, North Carolina; two granddaughters, Romai Reid (Kenneth) of Fort Worth, Texas and Renata Durant of Latta, South Carolina; three grandsons, Robert A. Durant, III of Richmond, Virginia, Mikal Durant (Tracy) of Denver, Colorado, and Ryan Durant of Dillon, South Carolina; ten great-grandchildren; one great-great grandchild; three nieces, Johneita Durant of Shaker Heights, Ohio, Vicki Rodstedt (Eric) of Kent, Ohio, and Denise Dannelly of Los Angeles, California; one nephew, Charlie Dannelly (Doreen) of North Hollywood, California; a cousin, Doris Desmond (Wardlow) of Florence, South Carolina; a special son, Paul Coleman of Atlanta, Georgia; a special daughter, Sandra Temoney of Latta, South Carolina; and other relatives and friends.
Please keep the family of Mrs. Roberta Samuel Dannelly Durant in your thoughts and prayers.