08/30/14 — Scholarship established to honor late school board member

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Scholarship established to honor late school board member

By Steve Herring
Published in News on August 30, 2014 11:36 PM

The Birthday Ladies normally gather to celebrate members' birthdays. However, next month they will celebrate the life and legacy of the late Thelma Smith by raising funds for a scholarship that has been established in her memory.

Mrs. Smith, a founding member of the group, was a longtime educator and a member of the Wayne County Board of Education.

She died in March following a period of declining health. She was 75.

The Birthday Ladies will sponsor a fundraising gospel jazz brunch on Saturday, Sept. 27, at 10:30 a.m. at Best Grove Fellowship Hall, 1065 Tommy's Road.

Tickets are $20 and may be purchased from any member.

"We are going to sell as many as we can sell," Birthday Ladies member Pat Burden said. "We have 17 members of this group, and each of us has 10 tickets. But we also are sending out letters asking people to sponsor so we can handle more than that."

The funds will be used to continue academic achievement through awarding scholarships to deserving students, Ms. Burden said.

The group is planning to place brochures around town as well, she said.

Mrs. Smith was a Wayne County heroine, and advocate for education, Mrs. Burden said.

Her contributions are vast and in diverse public arenas, and her impact in Wayne County and the state have been significant, Mrs. Burden said.

"She was 65 years old and they got together to celebrate her birthday and then they established this group," Ms. Burden said. "Before she passed, we were planning to do something special for her. We weren't thinking about doing something like this at that time. We were thinking about something that she could use dealing with her illness. But she passed before we could take care of that.

"So we said we want to do something because Ms. Thelma is so loved by children, and known for helping kids and promoting education. She really made the Dillard scholarship program what it is today. We decided why not have an event and raise money to give money to the Thelma Smith Scholarship Fund?"

Mrs. Smith was a graduate of Dillard High School and North Carolina A&T State University. She received a vocational education certification from East Carolina University and her master's degree in guidance and counseling from Campbell University.

She taught business and office education, first at Tyrrell High School in Columbia and then at Dillard and Goldsboro high schools, and adult education at Wayne Community College. She retired from Wayne County Public Schools after 33 years, later returning to Goldsboro High School as a guidance counselor.

In 1996, she was elected to the Board of Education, serving as its chairman in 2008. She was re-elected in 2012.

Shirley Faison Sims is serving as the chairperson of the fundraising event. Joanne Lloyd is co-chairperson.

For ticket information, contact Mrs. Burden at 919-735-3789.