Noting that Millie “Miss Millie” Colvin was teaching literature at Holly Hill Academy in 2010, the late T&D columnist Thomas Langford asked her why she was still working at age 83.
Her answer: "Because I enjoy the subject so much and feel high satisfaction seeing the children absorb great writing and history that will enrich them for the rest of their lives. It leads into more reading and learning about our world, and what civilization means. Every subject opens their mental gates wider. Not that all we do is stuff their brains with facts. Fun is part of our curriculum, too."
Miss Millie, who died Sept. 20, was a fixture at the school that she and her late husband were instrumental in founding. And she remained true to its mission of teaching young people for 45 years, a time during which knew nearly all students. She taught generations of people.
She met her husband, Calhoun "Cal" Colvin, in 1944 while both were vacationing in Clayton, Ga. He attended The Citadel, and she was at Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Ga. Their friendship blossomed into a four-year courtship and marriage, and the couple moved to Holly Hill, where his family ran Holly Hill Lumber Co.
The Colvins had four children — two girls and two boys — in 13 years. One had started college when a group of citizens decided in 1970 to found HHA as a 12-grade institution.
Colvin and her husband believed so deeply in the school that they stepped out to begin a campaign to get funds. They oversaw the building from the first shovel of dirt until it was complete. Construction was a hands-on thing for all who expected to see their children become a part of the endeavor. Every evening, parents gathered at the site and, under the supervision of those in charge, put in many hours of work to see that the school was built.
Classes began in the fall of 1970, but the school had no English teacher — until Millie Colvin stepped up to accept the mission. And the rest is history — a half-century’s worth.
After her husband's death, the school became her heartbeat. She succeeded him as HHA president in 1983 and continued serving until the present. And in addition to teaching until her retirement at 86, she was also the school librarian, guidance counselor for college scholars, adviser for the school newspaper and director of the HHA Double Sextette.
Her obituary states that she was “a strong female role model for generations of students,” but others go further in stating:
“She was a strong female role model for ALL — not just students! She did things when it wasn't really common for women to do them. She had very strong convictions and even those who didn't agree with her rarely challenged anything that Miss Millie said. She was probably the most well-known person — not just woman — in the eastern part of Orangeburg County.”
Her influence as a leader, teacher and person will live on.
As author Emeasoba George states: “The greatest legacy anyone can leave behind is to positively impact the lives of others. Whenever you add value to other people’s lives, you are unknowingly leaving footprints on the sands of time that live on, even after your demise.”
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