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College of Education

Celebrating the legacy of benefactor Mardee Witten

January 9, 2020

The College of Education family is mourning the death, and celebrating the life and legacy, of one its most generous benefactors. Margaret Mahone ("Mardee") Witten passed away at her home on December 31, 2019, surrounded by family.

Witten was a beloved friend and donor to the College of Education because of the commitment her family made to serving the University of South Carolina and leaving a legacy through numerous scholarships, fellowships and lectureships.

She was born in Williamsburg, Virginia on December 2, 1923. She attended St. Mary's College in Raleigh, North Carolina and the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia before graduating from the University of Virginia School of Nursing in 1947.

When she was 17 years old, she met Charles Henry ("Chuck") Witten, a young Naval officer, and after the war, they married in 1947. In 1960, her husband took command of the Naval ROTC unit at the University of South Carolina. In 1963, President Thomas F. Jones asked him to be Dean of Students at the university, and Columbia became their permanent home.

She was an active member of the University Women's Club. She was also a member of Trinity Episcopal Cathedral and Daughters of the Holy Cross, and The English Speaking Union. Mardee was her husband's helpmate and was always by his side. As the Dean's wife, she hosted many parties for university students and dignitaries. Later, she hosted his graduate students, gladly bringing them fresh-baked cookies and drinks as they worked with the professor on their dissertations.

Perhaps Mardee's most important work was that of being a mother, raising not only her five children, but showing interest in and care for all who she encountered. A dear family friend said that "no matter who you were, Mrs. Witten made you feel that you mattered."

The family asks that, in lieu of flowers, contributions be made to the Charles H. and Margaret M. Witten Fellowship Endowment at the College of Education. The Witten Scholarship is named for her and Chuck as is the Witten Lecture hosted on by the Museum of Education. He helped to create the Higher Education and Student Affairs (HESA) program in the College of Education.  She welcomed many higher education graduate students into her home over the years. In fact, HESA students used to live in the apartment above their garage.

Check can be made out to: USC Educational Foundation
Note: Charles H. and Margaret M. Witten Fellowship (B11033)
University of South Carolina
Office of Gift Processing
1600 Hampton Street, Suite 738
Columbia, SC, 29208

In spring 2021, the College of Education looks forward to hosting the Witten Lecture and celebrating the legacy of the Witten family.

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