Fairfield County bids farewell to community leader

WINNSBORO – It was in January, 1996, that both the South Carolina Senate and the House recognized Josie Gaston for her distinguished career in public office and for her loyal and unflagging service to the Fairfield County School Board of Trustees as well as her service as an officer, director and 1995 President of the South Carolina School Boards Association.


Last Thursday, Gaston, 88, died peacefully at home while she was sleeping.

“She was a very dynamic person, a strong woman.” said Evelyn Henry who was a longtime Winnsboro friend. “She was very active with church work, a hard worker and a wonderful woman who cared very much for her community.”

Gaston was the first African American female elected to serve on the Fairfield County School Board. She went on to be elected to the S.C. School Board Association where she served as secretary, treasurer and president. She also served on the 1995 Southern Regional School Boards Association in Charleston.

Born in Yalaha, Florida, Gaston was the firstborn of fourteen children in a family that was close knit and placed a high emphasis on the importance of religion, education, and hard work. 

The family attended church regularly at Shiloh First Presbyterian Church, where Gaston served on every level of the church as well as on various boards and committees including financial secretary, youth advisor, teacher, treasurer, organist, elder, clerk of session, moderator for Trinity Presbytery, and commissioner to the General Assembly.

A graduate of Camp Liberty High School, Gaston attended Benedict College and the University of South Carolina where she received a master’s degree in social work.

She worked for 23 years with the S.C. Department of Social Services and 15 years as supervisor of Adult Services.  Gaston was active in various community adult programs, one of which was selected as the best adult program in South Carolina by the SC Department of Social Services.

Gaston was married to the late John Russell Gaston, Sr., and was the mother of three sons, John Russell (Jannita), Alexander, and Alvin, two grandsons and several great-grandchildren.

A graveside service was held for Gaston on Monday at Shiloh Presbyterian Church cemetery.


  1. June L. Glenn-Lawson says

    She is a truly great woman. She unselfishly served her community. Her nobility and love of God are so evident. I will pray for comfort for her family. There are so many wonderful things to remember. “ A person is not dead until their name is no longer spoken.” She lives on.

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