Dr. Erthlay Witherspoon was born on March 23, 1939, in Sumter to the late the Rev. Windson Witherspoon and Missionary Lela Witherspoon. On Oct. 20, 2020, Dr. Witherspoon departed Earth to accept his final assignment in Heaven.
Following his graduation from Lincoln High School, he earned a bachelor's degree from Morris College in Sumter. Even though he commenced his career as an educator upon graduation from Morris College, he continued his education at Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, earning his master's degree, and completed his studies at South Carolina State University, Orangeburg, earning a Doctorate of Education.
Throughout his career, he exemplified the virtues of hard work and community service that were ingrained in him from an early age. He dedicated almost five decades of his life to serving others in the field of education. He began his teaching career at Saint Paul Elementary School, Clarendon School District 1, Summerton. Upon leaving Summerton, Dr. Witherspoon commenced his 46-year journey sowing into the lives of students in Sumter School District 17 both as a teacher and as an administrator. Early in his career in Sumter 17, he was a science teacher, first at Lincoln High School and then at Sumter High School. Subsequently, he served as the assistant director for the Pre-Primary and Follow-Through Program before becoming the principal of Willow Drive Elementary School and then Bates Middle School. He concluded his tenure as the assistant superintendent for administration for Sumter School District 17. During his career, he was a state-approved mentor for new principals as well as the chairman of the Nomination Committee for middle school principals.
Dr. Witherspoon was a beloved and active member of the community who was recognized throughout his life for numerous contributions. He served faithfully as a deacon at Mount Pisgah Missionary Baptist Church. He was also a member of the NAACP, The GoodfellowsClub, the Florence Chapter of Phi Delta Kappa, the South Carolina Educators Associations, the Santee-Wateree Mental Health Board, the Morris College Teacher Education Advisory Committee and the Lincoln High School Memorial Fund Committee.
Dr. Witherspoon was preceded in death by his wife, Alice Council Witherspoon, as well as his siblings, Windson Witherspoon, James Witherspoon, John Witherspoon and Carrie Witherspoon-Jenkins. He leaves to cherish his memory: a daughter, Ersula Witherspoon; three brothers-in-law, Julian Council, Ralph Council and Tex Council; a sister-in-law; a host of nieces and nephews, including Dorothy Lawson and Charles Boykin, for whom he felt great affinity, as well as many in the Sumter community whose lives were positively impacted by him.
The family asks that in lieu of flowers, persons may make contributions to Morris College in Dr. Witherspoon's memory.
Public viewing will be held on Saturday from 2 to 6 p.m. at Job's Mortuary.
Graveside services will be held at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday at Mt. Pisgah Missionary Baptist Church Cemetery, 7355 Camden Highway, Rembert, SC 29128, with the Rev. Anthony L. Taylor Sr., pastor, officiating.
Job's Mortuary Inc., 312 S. Main St., is in charge of arrangements.
Online memorials may be sent to the family at email@example.com or visit us on the web at www.jobsmortuary.net.
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