Mr. Wellington Wilder, Jr., born March 1, 1951 in Florence, South Carolina to Ola M. Robinson-Wilder and Wellington Wilder, Sr. was affectionately known as “Junior” to his family and people of his hometown. His nieces and nephews delighted in calling him ‘Uncle Junior.”
All in Florence knew him as a church going child who was also intrigued by funeral services. He was one of over seventy children and young adults baptized June 6, 1965 at Trinity Baptist Church by the now late Reverend Dr. William P. Diggs. Wellington was a member of the Trinity Intermediate Choir, the usher board, and was a three-summer attendee to the S.C. Young People Assembly Camp, at Benedict College. Encourage by way of pastor’s leadership, Wellington was an early attendee of color to Poynor Junior High and McClenaghan High School by way of the Florence NAACP Freedom of Choice Lawsuit. He graduated from McClenaghan in 1969. Federally court ordered desegregation became law the next year.
As already noted, Wellington was intrigued with and by way of funeral home services. Many remember him as a child visiting funeral homes and as a young teen serving as a flower bearer and later as a driver for and with Smith Funeral Home of Florence.
Wellington shared with many that his pastor, Dr. Diggs, facilitated his admission to Benedict College. Wellington drove Dr. Diggs, a Benedict faculty member home on Friday and he assumed his work at Smith Funeral Home on the weekends. Wellington graduated from Benedict College in 1973. In later years, he assisted Smith Funeral Home staff when he was visiting his hometown.
Wellington started his teaching career in 1973 at Southside High School in Florence, South Carolina. After relocating to Washington, District of Columbia, Wellington served as a math teacher and administrator for the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) and as an adjunct professor at American University completing a master’s degree from the University of the District of Columbia (UDC).
Wellington embraced the great hymns of the church. After moving to D. C. area, Wellington joined Metropolitan Baptist Church and sang baritone in the Senior Choir.
In 2012, he joined Shiloh Baptist Church of Washington, was baritone on the Senior Choir, member of Haggai Circle, the Historically Black College, and Universities Council, and a supporter of the Shiloh Baptist Social Justice Ministry.
It must be noted that Wellington was a consistent supporter of Benedict College. He attended homecoming games and was listed as the 1973 Benedict Class Agent, assuring support from his class to the college and the National Alumni Association of Benedict College. In 2012, Wellington was initiated in the Hyattsville/Landover Alumni Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.
Following his retirement from the public school system, Wellington focused on helping families through challenging times. He was well known in the D. C. area as a funeral attendant. He loved to travel and dine with friends and family in the D. C. and Florence areas. He often was given a homemade cake to take home. Friends and family share that he kept in touched and up to date by way of Facebook posts, telephone calls, cards, and flowers.
Wellington found purpose of meaning for and about service to his students, school mates and church family in Washington and Florence. He will be missed by many.
Wellington is survived by his sister, Geraldine E. Green of Timmonsville, South Carolina; eleven nieces, Cathy Jackson of Florence, South Carolina, Lisa Jackson-Wright (Kenneth) of Woodbridge, Virginia, Tonya (Ramon) Sarmiento of Florence, South Carolina, Karen Jackson of Woodbridge, Virginia, Debora (Marvin) Cato of Effingham, South Carolina, Tammy Nicole Jackson (Moore Monroe) of Florence, South Carolina, Monica (Michael) Lloyd of Effingham, South Carolina, Veronica (David) Jackson of Marietta, Georgia, Linda Frierson Poughkeepsie, New York, Darlene Wells of Chesapeake, Virginia, and Michelle Frierson of Bronx, New York; four nephews, Frankie (Kimberlyn) Jackson of Effingham, South Carolina, Reggie Jackson of Florence, South Carolina, Timothy Frierson of Los Angeles, California, and Jeron Drawhorn of Bronx, New York. Others who mourn the life and memory include long-time friend and “homegirl,” Loretta Bowers; the William Diggs family who he claimed as godparents and siblings; the J. O. Smith family; and a host of cousins, great-nieces, great nephews, and a cadre of friends, colleagues, students, and church family members.
Please keep the family of Wellington Wilder, Jr. in your thoughts and prayers.