The everyday beauty of Rhodie Shervington’s 100 years
Although she’d be the last to say it, Rhodie Shervington’s life is a fascinating story. It stretches from the rural farmland of St. Matthews, South Carolina, to the rough-and-tumble streets of the Bronx. It continues in a quiet room at Preston Health Center, where she prepares to turn 100 years old this month.
It’s the story of a girl who grew up working the fields, who went on to college at South Carolina State, who gained her master’s degree from the College of the City of New York. At a time when few women were pursuing higher education, Shervington would not be stopped by prevailing social mores.
It’s a story she wrote herself, through years of hard work and self-determination.
But don’t tell her that.
“It was just, to me, an ordinary life,” said Shervington. Perched in a corner chair of her room, immaculately dressed as always and flanked by portraits of her parents, both S.C. State grads, Shervington gracefully deflected the spotlight when asked about her remarkable life.
If you ask her what it meant to pursue higher education at a time when most young women were being encouraged to stay at home, she’ll tell you it was typical. And as for what it must have been like to leave the bucolic countryside of St. Matthews for the urban monstrosity of New York City?
“It was just like any other place,” she said. “Nothing special.”
Indeed, Shervington views her history as just an average, ordinary life. As though everyone born into rural South Carolina just after the turn of the century forged his or her own destiny in the way she has. One of five brothers and sisters, she left her hometown to pursue higher education, first from S.C. State and then from College of the City of New York where she received a bachelor’s degree in education and a master’s degree, as well as a master’s of library science from St. John’s University.
In New York, she met her husband, Eugene, and spent years working in social services as well as in education. Her investment savvy allowed her to continue forging her own path, giving her financial freedom to pursue her love of travel and eventually make her way down to Hilton Head Island.
She still owns a condo in Ocean Club, where once a year she hosts a flock of nieces and nephews from all over the country. One niece, D'Letter Shumate, comes all the way from Alaska.
“She’s spent her life helping others and helping her family, guiding us all and making sure we received our education,” Shumate said. “She’s just been a big role model in our family.”
So as she prepares to celebrate this milestone birthday, surrounded by family and friends in an island getaway far from the fields of St. Matthews or the streets of the Bronx, we congratulate Rhodie Shervington on a life that’s far more fascinating and inspiring than the ordinary life she sees it as.