Obituary of Evelyn Dabbs
Evelyn Virginia Dabbs, widow of Thomas McBride Dabbs, passed away October 4,
She is survived by her son Furman (Cheryl) of Sumter, Charlotte Parker (Charles) of
Sumter, Susan Roberts of Murrell’s Inlet and Sumter, and Ronda Feinstein (Jeffrey) of Sumter.
She has many grandchildren of whom she was very proud, including Janis and Furman Dabbs;
Ashely Parker, Melissa Driggers, Linda Watkins, and David Parker; Bryan, Furman, and Cody
Borst; and Lauren Partington Gillette. Her great-grandchildren are Emily and Evelyn Parker;
Cullen and Jasmine Watkins; Lilly and Jasmine Borst; Olivia and Roman Borst; Emerson, Carson,
and Harper Borst; and Evelyn Gillette. The family would like to thank Daisy Crowder for
her excellent assistance in the last months of Evelyn’s life.
Evelyn was a beloved citizen of Sumter County who was interested in all of nature, but
who was best known for her bird banding and her teaching about birds to thousands of children
from all over the state for three decades. She became known as “The Bird Lady” and she
is featured in the fifth grade social studies textbook as one of the outstanding state figures of
For her efforts to preserve the Congaree Swamp in the early 1970’s, she was awarded
the Wildlife Conservation Award from the National Wildlife Federation in 1972. She was the first
woman in the Southeast to receive this award. In 1996 she was given an award by the Columbia
Audubon Society in recognition of “her teaching thousands of children and adults the
value and fragility of our natural world.” This award was very meaningful to her and hung in her
home office. It was unexpected and reflected an appreciation of decades of generosity and
commitment to children and nature that she and her husband shared unstintingly. In 2011 she
was honored as one of the Legends of Conservation by the South Carolina Wildlife Federation.
Behind these honors, however, was a small and seemingly fragile lady who would
cheerfully tell her daughter that today’s task was to weed an acre of swampland. She was often
observed with a machete in hand with which she would clear canopies of vines from trees.
She was fearless and lived in a place with many spiders so large that, as her husband once
remarked, “You could put a had on them and the hat would walk away.” There were, and still
are, coyotes, cougars, panthers, snakes of all kinds, and alligators. She feared none of them.
She taught her grandchildren to fear nothing in nature. Evelyn is responsible for fostering a love
of nature in many children, and she would say that this was her greatest achievement.
Funeral services for Evelyn will be held at Salem Black River Presbyterian Church (Brick Church) on Monday, October 8 at 11:00 AM, followed by a gathering in the Fellowship Hall after internment.
There will be light refreshments.
The family invites attendees to use cell phones to stream the service to distant or ill
family members and friends who are unable to attend the service.
On-line ciondolences may be sent to www.sumterfunerals.com
Elmore Hill McCreight Funeral Home and Crematory is in charge. 803-775-9386.