Penn Center inducts three to 1862 Circle

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Newest members of the Penn Center 1862 Circle (left to right): Etta Mann, Dick Riley and Roland Gardner at the Friday reception.
Newest members of the Penn Center 1862 Circle (left to right): Etta Mann, Dick Riley and Roland Gardner at the Friday reception.

By Bob Sofaly

Penn Center, on St. Helena Island, announced its three newest members of its prestigious 1862 Circle. This award “recognizes leaders who embody the spirit of Penn Center and who serve as national advocates for the enduring history and culture of the Sea Islands”.

Dick Riley, former S.C. Governor from 1979 to 1987 and Secretary of Education under President Clinton from 1993 to 2004, was inducted. “I’m very honored”, Riley said during Friday’s reception at Penn Center. “It’s important that everyone knows the significance of Penn Center’s impact on civil and human rights and its roll in education in our state”.

Beaufort/Jasper/Hampton Comprehensive Health Services also was nominated for inclusion in the “Circle”. Roland Gardner, Comprehensive Health Services CEO, said that he started with the company 35 years ago and served as the Director of Mental Health and Social Services which, ironically was headquartered in the Cope building at Penn Center.

Etta Mann was also inducted into Penn Center’s Circle 1862. “I was originally from Eastover, S.C.” she said. “I moved here, fresh out of college in 1949 and have worked as a teacher at Penn Center ever since”. As she looked out over the crowd of those gathered at the reception she said, “I’ve taught just about everybody here and their parents. I’ve taught whole generations” she said of her 65 years of teaching at Penn.

A reception in their honor was held at the center on Friday with the formal induction made during the Penn Center Gala the following night.