By Barney Blakeney
Sorority sisters, church family, relatives, former students and co-workers gathered Sunday to celebrate Mrs. Marjorie Hutchinson Howard’s 106th birthday. The 43-year veteran math teacher turned 106 August 21.
After graduating Avery Normal School in 1929, Mrs. Howard, the daughter of the late educator Marie Aleata Palmer Hutchinson and carpenter John Pearson Hutchinson attended Ms. Sanders private school formerly located on Calhoun Street in downtown Charleston until third grade and graduated from Avery Normal Institute in 1929. She received her Bachelor’s Degree from Knoxville College in 1933 and later received a Master’s Degree in Education from Teacher’s College of Columbia University in New York.
In 1933, Mrs. Howard began her 43-year teaching career at Coulter Academy in Cheraw. She returned to Charleston to teach at Simonton Elementary School from 1936-1939. It was at Simonton that her class created a newspaper project that later became Charleston’s first elementary school newspaper, The Chatter Box. Copies of that newspaper were placed in a time capsule scheduled to be opened on the one hundred year anniversary. The capsule is located in The Charleston Museum.
In 1939, Mrs. Howard moved to Burke High School where she was advisor for the school’s Parvenue newspaper. Also in 1939, Mrs. Howard married George Arthur Howard. They had one daughter, Sandra Howard Quick, and two grandsons, Asim and Jamal Quick.
Mrs. Howard stayed at Burke High through 1955 until returning to Simonton in 1956 as an eighth grade teacher. When she joined the staff of the newly opened C.A. Brown High School in 1962, she was named Math Department chairperson and was an advisor for that school’s newspaper, The Pioneer. While at C.A. Brown, she became the first African-American Teacher of the Year in Charleston County. Mrs. Howard remained on the staff at C.A. Brown until her retirement in 1976.
In 1976, Mrs. Howard retired from teaching, but she continued to touch the lives of others as a charter member and volunteer with the Charleston County Teachers Credit Union. For many years she held the position of Chairman of the Supervisory Committee. She is the credit union’s only surviving charter member. And she continued as an active member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. Well into her 100th year, she participated in water aerobics, regular exercises at home, general housekeeping, managing her finances, and was an active member of the Qu’etes Bridge Club.
As a member of Wesley United Methodist Church in downtown Charleston, Mrs. Howard is the congregation’s oldest member and attributes prayer, study, work, exercise, healthy diet, and sufficient rest and sleep to her longevity. A devoted church member, Mrs. Howard until last year rarely missed Sunday church services. She has been honored for her work and contributions to the United Methodist Women and other organizations.
Although visually and hearing impaired, she readily recalls the original site the church’s worship services in a building at Spring and Coming Streets. She also recalled the original sanctuary at 446 Meeting Street as the white clapboard structure.