At noon on Saturday, Nov. 18, more than 200 family members and friends gathered at Trinity Baptist Church’s Family Life Center to celebrate the 100th birthday of retired educator and world traveler Rubie Nixon Schumpert.
The banquet hall was decorated with an ice sculpture of the Eiffel Tower; a birthday cake shaped like the Great Pyramid with inlaid images of Nefertiti and King Tut; and floral centerpieces highlighted with world maps – all highlighting the faraway places Mrs. Schumpert has visited. Mistresses of ceremonies were Doris Adams and Beryl Dakers.
Wearing a red silk kimono, Mrs. Schumpert was escorted by her grandsons Darrell Mack and H. Shelton Lorick into the hall to the tune of “Ruby, Ruby.” Proclamations in her honor were issued by Mayor Steve Benjamin, U.S. Congressman James E. Clyburn and S.C. Rep. Leon Howard. Robert Squirewell represented Benedict College.
Her great-granddaughters – Onya Edwards, Nailah Mack, Kennedi Whaley, Keirston Lorick and Kamille Whaley – brought greetings in multiple languages. The grandchildren – Bartina Edwards, Darrell Mack, H. Sheldon Lorick and Camilla Mack – shared Mrs. Schumpert’s biography in four segments entitled “A Life Well Lived.” Her oldest nephew, Randolph Washington, gave an oral history of the Nixon family and his Aunt Rubie’s contributions as role model and matriarch.
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Longtime associates and friends paying tributes were former co-worker Marlene McClerklin, former student Delores Hall Haynes, Wallace Brown of St. John Baptist Church, speaking of Mrs. Schumpert’s unwavering servant leadership, and the Rev. Dr. Jamey O. Graham, pastor of St. John Baptist Church, who delivered the invocation. Entertainment included the Praise Dancers of First Calvary Baptist Church, an African dance performed by a student of Benedict College Dance Group and a family chorus with a duet by Lauren and Kennedy Bassard.
Daughters Laverne S. Bassard and LaMaris S. Mack made parting comments, with closing reflections from Mrs. Schumpert, who was joined by her two surviving siblings, Mable Nixon Guider, age 101, and Ione Nixon Knight, age 91.
Mrs. Schumpert was the third of nine children, born Nov. 22, 1917, in Richland County. She was married to the late Barton Schumpert.