Dec. 30, 2015
Geraldine Hilliard Matthews, 75, of 1317 Arista Road, Bowman, surrounded by loving family and friends, gently entered into eternal rest at the Regional Medical Center of Orangeburg on Friday afternoon, Dec. 25, 2015. She was born Sept. 29, 1940, in Santee to the late John T. (Tootsie) Hillard and the late Maria Mallard Hillard.
She attended the public schools of Orangeburg County and graduated from Elloree Training School in 1959. She earned a bachelor’s degree in library science from South Carolina State College in 1964. She retired from the public school system after 30 years of service as a media specialist at Bowman High School in Orangeburg County. After retirement, Mrs. Matthews taught in multiple adult education programs as she continued her mission to help educate those in her community.
At the age of 20, Geraldine met and married the love of her life, John Wesley Matthews Jr., and relocated to Bowman. This virtuous, stalwart woman was an activist in her community, as she supported her husband in his professional and political ambitions and maintained a home and career. Her community-mindedness led her to organize clubs and organizations to support family, social and educational enrichment. Her social and professional involvements included: she served as vice chairperson of the Orangeburg/Upper Dorchester Economic Development Initiative, board member on the Orangeburg Regional Hospital Foundation and Orangeburg Consolidated District 5 Foundation Board, and a reading specialist at the Gressette Center in St. Matthews. She was a precinct and community organizer. Mrs. Matthews was a life member of the Alpha Kappa Sorority Inc. and the NAACP. She was a founding member of the LaCharm Club and the Les Madames and was chairperson of Bridge-a-Dears Bridge Club. Her professional affiliations included Retired Media Specialists, National Education Association, South Carolina Education Association, and Orangeburg County Education Association.
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At an early age, Geraldine began her spiritual walk at Providence Baptist Church in the Providence community but moved her membership to Pineville United Methodist Church with her husband and worked faithfully in various capacities. At Pineville, she was the first female elected to the church administrative board, where she served as chairperson for 10 years. She had served as a head usher and in the following auxiliaries: People Parish Relationship Committee, Senior Ushers, Nominating Committee, Administrative Council and Senior Choir. Geraldine was a creative children's sermon leader and a class leader. She was also a devout Bible study student.
Geraldine was a stellar wife, mother, role model, neighbor and friend whose genuine warmth radiated to those she encountered. She embraced everyone with a philanthropic spirit of compassion and love. Her wit and vibrant personality captivated and illuminated the hearts and minds of many.
Left to treasure her memory are her beloved husband of 54 years, Sen. John Wesley Matthews Jr.; five children, Cynthia (Kenneth) John (Orangeburg), Michael (Sherry) Matthews of Baltimore, Stephanie (Derrick) Hicks of League City, Texas, John (Jacqueline) Matthews III of Ewa Beach, Hawaii, and Brian (Deitra) Matthews of Columbia; 10 grandchildren, Corliss Hicks, Kenya John, Matthew Hicks, Emery Matthews, Lauren Hicks, Jonathan Matthews, Caroline Matthews, Sheridan Matthews, Claudia Matthews and Jaedon Matthews; a great-grandchild, Kingston John; two brothers, Louis Hillard of Washington, D.C., and John Hilliard of Santee; two sisters, Lou Queen Hilliard of Bowman and Shirley Nelson of Orangeburg; two aunts, Marthella Crawford and Thelma Gooden; three brothers-in-law, Roosevelt (Alma) Matthews, Joshua (Katherine) Matthews and Booker T. Matthews; and a sister-in-law, Deloris Hillard. Also left to cherish her memories are a host of relatives and friends. She was preceded in death by her parents, John T. and Mariah Hillard; a brother, the Rev. Richard Hillard; and a sister, Dorothy Seawright.
Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 31, at Bethune-Bowman High School, with the Rev. Barbara L. Reid, eulogist, and Dr. James P. Smith presiding. Burial will be in the church cemetery.
These services have been entrusted to the management and staff of Glover's Funeral Home, 2562 Charleston Highway, Orangeburg.