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Two Lander graduates celebrate longevity, each surpassing 100 years in age

May 17, 2016

Lander University alumna Margaret Lander Scheibler, of Due West, celebrated her 104th birthday recently, and she was treated to a special gathering at The Lander Foundation and Alumni Center to celebrate the occasion. As she walked through the front entrance on the arm of her nephew, Robert Lander, of Abbeville, a large group of people waiting inside greeted her with applause. She was confused at first, but smiled broadly when Alumni Affairs Director Myra Greene told her it was a surprise birthday party in her honor.

Guests included retired Lander president Larry Jackson and his wife, Barbara, and Margaret’s niece, Elizabeth Purcell of Clemson. The Jacksons presented a check in the amount of $104, which Greene described as starter money to establish the Margaret Lander Scheibler Scholarship for a student majoring in exercise science.

Greene said Margaret told her how thrilled she was that “all those lovely people” came out to have a party for her. The group sang “Happy Birthday” as a four-layer cake was rolled in, with Margaret called upon to blow out the candles. Greene explained that each of the 10 candles on the cake represented one decade of Margaret’s life.

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Born and raised in Calhoun Falls, Margaret is the granddaughter of the Rev. Samuel Lander, founder of Willamston Female College, which relocated to Greenwood in 1904 and was renamed Lander College in his honor. She was one of the 42 members in the Class of 1933 and, after graduating, she worked in administrative positions in business and health care and taught commercial courses at two high schools in Florence County.

Asked how she felt about reaching the age of 104, she said, “I never planned to live this long.” Four years ago, on the occasion of her 100th birthday, she told an interviewer, “I just keep on breathing.”

Margaret Scheibler has something in common with Lois Yarborough Eaves, of Barnwell. Besides having graduated from Lander more than 80 years ago, they are both centenarians-and they share the same May 14 birth date, although one year apart.

Lois, whose health doesn’t permit travel, celebrated her 103rd birthday with family and friends at home in Barnwell. 

Her son, Terrell, said his mother enrolled at Lander because her father, Will Yarborough, was a Methodist minister, which entitled her to a $100 discount in tuition. She attended Columbia College for a time, after financial difficulties forced her to leave Lander. When she returned, she obtained a job as a student worker in Lander’s Dining Hall to help her pay college expenses.

Terrell described his mother as “a cut up in college.” For example, she earned the nickname “Trig” because it took her three tries to obtain a passing grade in trigonometry. To mark the occasion, she and some friends staged a trigonometry book-burning, issuing invitations to classmates that read, “Come to the trig cremation, the greatest event in all creation.”

Lois graduated from Lander in 1935 and was a school teacher for many years. In 1941, she returned to the Lander campus where she married Buist Eaves in an outdoor ceremony, with the Lander singers providing musical accompaniment. Lois and Buist had three children: two sons and a daughter. Terrell said his father died in 1991 and that Lois is the first centenarian their family.

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Lois Yarborough Eaves, of Barnwell, who celebrated her 103rd birthday on May 14, is shown in a photo taken on the occasion of her 100th birthday in 2013.