Beaufort News

Gullah festival founder Rosalie Pazant dies

A founder of the Original Gullah Festival and longtime Beaufort County educator, Rosalie Pazant's passions for community service, family and education started at a young age and never died.

Pazant, 93, died Tuesday at Beaufort Memorial Hospital.

Her legacy is one marked by enthusiasm and unselfishness, daughter Charlotte Pazant Brown, 61, said Wednesday.

"People talk about what you do with your time -- the dash between the dates on your grave," Brown said. "Mom's dash is overflowing with things she has done for others. ... She had such a full life."

Pazant was a mother of seven, grandmother of 16, great-grandmother of 26 and great-great grandmother of eight, Brown said.

A native Beaufortonian, she taught for about 40 years at Beaufort County schools, including Robert Smalls School, Beaufort High School and Battery Creek High School and taught at Savannah State University, Brown said.

Beaufort resident John Gadson, who taught with Pazant at Robert Smalls School in the 1960s, said she was committed to education and had a unique, effective way of working with students.

"She was an excellent educator and served as a mentor for many of the other teachers," said Gadson.

In 1986, Pazant and four other women started reminiscing about how the black community had celebrated "Decoration Day," or Memorial Day, in years past, Brown said.

Shortly after, the Original Gullah Festival was born.

"There were not many activities left on Memorial Day where African-Americans could sit back and enjoy the weekend," Brown said. "We said it would be nice if we could bring back that Decoration Day spirit. Mom was retired at the time. She was the motor, the person who got the Gullah Festival going and made sure it continued."

Pazant attended Gullah Festival planning meetings up until a few months ago, Brown said.

"She just kept moving until she couldn't," Brown said.

A Delta Sigma Theta service will be held at 8 a.m. Saturday at Tabernacle Baptist Church in Beaufort followed by a visitation at 9 a.m. and a general service at 10 a.m.