MRS. ZINIE BOYKIN MURRAY LEWIS, the beloved daughter of the late Alexander Murray and the late Leila Boykin Murray Doby was born October 10, 1922, in the home of her paternal grandparents, the late Gist Alexander and Zinie Murray Murray, on Spring Hill in Lee County, South Carolina. After the death of her father, her mother moved to Baltimore, Maryland to seek employment. Mrs. Lewis was reared in the Rafting Creek and Rembert communities in the home of her maternal grandparents, the late Reverend Reuben Elliott and Millie Osborne Boykin. Mrs. Lewis was married to the late Isaac Stevenson Lewis and to this union three daughters were born, Beverly Sharon (deceased), Stephanie Denise and Carol Kaye.
Mrs. Lewis valued family. The scion of two notable South Carolina political families, Murray and Boykin, she often shared stories about them. Paternally, her grandfather, Gist, was first cousin to George Washington Murray, 93rd US Congressman from South Carolina. Maternally, her grandfather, Reuben, was a descendant of Alexander Hamilton Boykin, Civil War general. The struggles and triumphs of her paternal and maternal ancestors served as hope for a better and brighter tomorrow. Her grandfather, Reuben’s experiences served as a catalyst for her thirst for knowledge and an education.
Education was a high priority for Mrs. Lewis and her ancestors. Her father, was a student at Voorhees College and her mother was a student at Morris College when they met and married. The intersection of the Murray and Boykin families began. Her grandmother, Millie, taught in the Liberty Hill area of Kershaw County and her grandfather, Reuben, a Baptist minister, taught at the Union School in the Rembert area of Kershaw and Sumter counties.
Reuben learned informally in the Charlotte Thompson area of Kershaw County by sitting on the steps listening to the teacher at the school his half siblings attended. The teacher would allow him to sit in the back of the room on inclement weather days. Reuben drove the wagon until one of his siblings was old enough to drive the wagon to school. After moving to Sumter County to live with an aunt, he attended Congressman Murray’s school.
Grandmother Millie would rent a place to live in Camden each school year so that Mrs. Lewis and her aunt could attend school at Jackson. When Mrs. Lewis turned 9 years old, her grandmother arranged for her to board at the home of a friend on Broad St. Her grandparents would bring her to town on Sunday and give her two quarters tied in a man’s handkerchief for train fare. On Fridays, Mrs. Lewis would board the train and ride to Boykin Mill Pond for her grandparents to pick her up for the weekend. She learned the value of a quarter and money because she knew it served as her ticket to continue her education.
After her grandmother became ill, Mrs. Lewis stopped high school at Mather Academy to care for her. Her grandmother’s dying wish was for her to return to school the upcoming fall. Instead of returning to Mather, her grandfather enrolled her in the high school department at Morris College in Sumter, South Carolina. Mrs. Lewis continued at Morris and earned her Bachelor’s degree in History. She was recruited along with her lifelong friend, the late Maggie Goodwin Hector, to teach in Conway, South Carolina. She met her future husband, Isaac, also a teacher, while teaching at Whittemore High School.
Mr. and Mrs. Lewis returned to live in Camden around 1954 and joined Camden Second Presbyterian Church.
Mrs. Lewis was a faithful, contributing member of Camden Second, serving on church committees until her health began to decline. Mrs. Lewis always modeled Christian principals and behavior. Her religious upbringing provided an ethical core that always found her on the side of peace and love.
Mrs. Lewis was a dedicated public school educator. She cared for children and always encouraged them to learn and be productive citizens in the community. During Mrs. Lewis’ career as a public school teacher, she served students in Horry, Georgetown and Kershaw counties. She belonged to and supported many civic, charitable, and educational organizations.
Mrs. Lewis never met a stranger and was always willing to share and give to her family, friends and strangers her time, resources and love regardless of social status. Her work and deeds live on through her daughters, Dr. Stephanie Denise Lewis Catoe and Mrs. Carol Kaye Lewis Jefferson; grandsons, Lee Toddson (Shana) Catoe, Jarrett Chase Brown and Reuben Lance Brown; great-granddaughters, Michaela Alesha and Lauryn Elizabeth; great-grandson, Toddson Kevon; cousins, neighbors and friends.