Sixty years ago the lovely young ladies now pictured on the cover graced the classrooms of the North Greenville Academy. All were members of the class of 1925.
Nelle Blakely Ashmore and the Coleman sisters, Christine C. Gilstrap and Cecile C. Weaver, have maintained close ties since their high school days. They were present for the alumni celebration ’85 when their class received special recognition on its sixtieth anniversary.
Nelle has been involved in leadership roles since North Greenville days. She was captain of the girls’ basketball team and assistant editor of the “Moonshiner,” the school’s annual. After completing her education at Greenville Woman’s College (Furman), she married Russell C. Ashmore, Sr. Her main occupation was to be a homemaker and mother of three children, Russell C. Ashmore, Jr., Richard Ashmore, and Rebecca Jane A. Clark.
“I gave myself to the Lord,” she said, and she became an active leader in the life of her church and denomination and in community affairs. She served several years on the Southern Baptist Convention and five years as the president of Woman’s Missionary Union of South Carolina.
Nelle and her husband, a successful construction executive, have been active in their support of NGC through the years. One of the more recent projects has been the construction of Ashmore Field, which bears the family name. Mr. Ashmore was a charter member of the North Greenville Board of Advisors. Russell, Jr., is in his second term as a trustee of the college.
Cecile and Christine Coleman were two of the nine children born to Reverend and Mrs. James P. Coleman. Cecile was born in Tigerville, while her father was pastor of Tyger and Mountain Creek Baptist churches. Christine was born in Pelham.
“My father believed in education,” said Cecile, “and he loved North Greenville.” He sent Cecile and Christine to North Greenville before he died at an early age.
Both the girls enrolled in the academy in 1923. Cecile worked in the kitchen and “Chris” served tables to pay their expenses. “We didn’t mind working,” Cecile commented. After graduation, the girls continued their education at Greenville Woman’s College.
Cecile, a retired teacher, taught for 37 years in the Florence and Greenville school districts. She served as principal for 13 of those years. A member of First Baptist Church, Greenville, since her teens, she continues to teach a class of women in Sunday School. She married George C. Weaver in 1937. They have three children. Richard and James Thomas Weaver and Camille (Mrs. David) Carter.
“Chris” taught school for two years before spending 35 years preparing “special food for special people” and doing what she calls “hand-tailoring.” She married James L. Gilstrap in 1934. They have a daughter, Mary Lou (Mrs. Terry McGehee). She is a member of Buncombe Street United Methodist, where she continues to teach a ladies’ class once each month.
Cecile, Christine, and other family members have initiated the Reverend James Preston Coleman and Maude Stewart Coleman Endowment Fund in memory of their parents. The interest from the fund “will provide money to assist needy, worthy students who are willing to work to attend North Greenville College.”
The Ashmore and Coleman families continue to prove their love for North Greenville by the giving of themselves and of their means in the spirit of Christian education.
Article printed in the Summer 1985 North Greenville College Alumni Newsletter.