Funeral for 108-year-old SC woman Donella Wilson set for Friday

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Ms. Donella Wilson, the 108-year-old Midlands woman who was profiled on the way to the polls in 2016 and was a longtime community activist and former educator passed away on Jan. 12, according to family members.

Wilson - who was the daughter and granddaughter of slaves, family members confirmed - passed away surrounded by loved ones.

Funeral arrangements for Ms. Wilson are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Friday at Union Baptist Church in Columbia.

Born in Fort Motte in Calhoun County in 1909, Wilson said casting her vote in the 2016 election was not only for her but those who came before her.

"We couldn't spell vote," Wilson said in 2016. "We didn't know what the word meant other that we had an opportunity to say something and cast a vote, praying as we go along that the vote could count to help us as a Negro race."

Living through a time where African-Americans and women did not have the right to vote, Wilson proudly cast her first vote in the 1940s. She never missed an election afterward.

In July 2017, Gov. Henry McMaster honored Wilson with the Order of the Palmetto. She was a longtime member of the NAACP and was a graduate of Allen University.

"Her grandparents and great-grandparents, all of them would be very proud of something like this," said Jackie Whitmire, Ms. Wilson's grandnephew, said in July 2017. "You know your little girl grew up on a plantation and now the governor is at your house to give you the Order of the Palmetto, that's a very powerful statement."

Gov. McMaster sent the family his condolences on Twitter, saying:

I was blessed with the privilege of conferring upon Mrs. Donella Brown Wilson the Order of the Palmetto. If anyone has lived a full and accomplished life, it is she. It is bittersweet to hear of her homegoing. She will be missed, but we know she is rejoicing with the Lord today.

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