“Sincerity makes the very least person to be of more value than the most talented hypocrite.”
That quote by English Baptist preacher Charles Spurgeon are words that could well describe the worth of retired educator Margaret Roberts. The Orangeburg resident is not pretentious and doesn’t look for accolades, and her record of service speaks for itself.
Her priority of serving her family and community with integrity and honesty, coupled with her genuine desire to move others forward in life, has earned Roberts designation as the exemplification of sincerity for the month of June as part of the Orangeburg County Community of Character initiative.
Of that honor, Roberts says, “It was a total shock. I feel humbled that somebody would think of me that way. I live by a poem that I learned a long time ago that I have to live with myself, and so I want to be able as the days go by to always look myself straight in the eye."
“I’m glad that other people see sincerity in me because what you see is what you get,” she added.
Roberts, whose career in education spanned 39 years, retired from Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College after 23 years of service.
“I started out as an instructor in the business division and then I moved up as chairperson. I retired from there as dean of student services,” she said.
The Williamston native began her career in education as an administrative secretary to the principal of Spearman High School in her hometown.
“I stayed there one year and then got a teaching position at Macedonia High School in Blackville. I stayed there for a couple of years and then came to South Carolina State (University) and worked in the School of Home Economics for maybe about four years,” said Roberts, who also worked at the former South Carolina Area Trade School in Denmark, which is now Denmark Technical College.
She said sincerity has played a critical role in her professional life.
“I really like to be above board with people. I don’t always tell them what ... they feel they want to hear," Roberts said. "Rather, (I'm) ... truthful in what I need to say to them. I think that can be misunderstood sometimes, but I think people ultimately appreciate that. I don’t pretend that I am what I am not.”
She and her late husband, Charles, have two children, Mark Anthony and Joan. She is also the grandmother of five. Roberts said her family can attest to her firm but caring nature.
“My family can tell you that sometimes I can be a very hard taskmaster with them, but ultimately they appreciate it. They always say, ‘Mama, you deserve whatever you get because you’re just different,’” she said. “I tried to be a good wife, mother and grandmother."
Roberts’ affiliations include her membership in the Sunlight Club, the Helen Sheffield Girl’s Club, the Orangeburg Chapter of The Links Inc, the Orangeburg County Tax and Tourism Advisory Board and the Orangeburg County Council on Aging Board.
She is also a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., St. Luke Presbyterian Church, and is a life member of the South Carolina State University National Alumni Association. In addition, Roberts served as chairperson of the SCSU National Stellar Alumni Calendar.
She said the sincere heart with which she serves her community came from her loving mother, Jessie.
“I’m pretty sure I would have to attribute that to my mom because my mom was pretty much the same way: a very sincere, unpretentious person. She would do anything for anybody. She was a very good role model, and I miss my mom every day,” Roberts said.
Her late longtime friend, Lula Durant, also had a sincerity that shone forth in her actions, Roberts said.
“She really had an impact on my life. She was the godparent of my son, and worked for years at South Carolina State University,” she said.
Her son, Mark Anthony, said the importance of demonstrating respect and responsibility and developing a good work ethic was stressed in their home.
“Being responsible was hard. I wanted a pet and didn’t always want to do all that was required for having a pet,” he said, smiling. He said his parents always welcomed his and his sister’s friends.
“Everybody was welcome. Our backyard wound up being the neighborhood backyard,” he said.
Roberts said it was important for her children to understand that she cared about them, even when they had to obey the rules.
“They know that I’m strong in my belief. Whatever I say to them, I mean it as far as they are concerned. I would not steer them in any wrong direction,” she said.
Roberts said she is pleased at how the Orangeburg County Community of Character is helping to steer others toward good character.
“I think that that program has been good and I do feel that it’s made a difference. I think it has served the community very well," she said. "When a character (trait) is displayed every month, I think it’s really good for the young folks to see that character is very important."
Retired educator makes character trait of sincerity a priority in her life
June 30, 2016 Times and Democrat article (reprinted with permission)
Article by DIONNE GLEATON T&D Staff Writer