Aiken truly has suffered a loss with the passing of longtime resident Ola Hitt.
Hitt, who celebrated her 103rd birthday in April, died Friday.
She saw a lot in her lifetime — World War I occurred in Hitt’s years as a child. She was 31 years old when Peal Harbor was bombed. She saw the end of World War II when she was 35.
She’s been known as the “Matriarch of Aiken,” the “Mother of Veterans,” and much more, due to the contributions she made to Aiken as she walked along her long path in life.
Many Aiken residents have expressed their sympathy and loss since Hitt’s death, and share memories of her great kindness toward others and a selflessness that rarely is seen.
Elliott Levy, Aiken County Historical Museum executive director, said Hitt opened her home, beginning in the 1960s, to disabled veterans for more than three decades. This represents a tiny sampling of the many acts of kindness she bestowed on others.
Over the years, she served as a president of the Aiken Historical Society, a member of the Business Women’s Club, the United Daughters of the Confederacy, the Mayflower Society, the First Families of Massachusetts and the Genealogical Society.
She received the Order of the Palmetto in 1990, with the award presented by then U.S. Sen. Strom Thurmond. Former Gov. Carroll Campbell also proclaimed that day Ola Hitt Day.
She also was known by many as the official Grand Marshal of the City of Aiken’s Memorial Day parade, sitting and waving at local residents along the parade route for many years.
One of her last acts of kindness was willing her home to St. John’s United Methodist Church.
“She contributed a great deal; always supportive of St. John’s. She would come to our activities and knew all the pastors,” said Harry Sampson, St. John’s United Methodist Church’s director of staffing and planning.
When Hitt turned 100 years old, the honors she received were countless. Among them, Ola Hitt Lane on Whiskey Road was named in her honor, and a statement recognizing her 100th birthday, acknowledging her contributions to the community, was read into the Congressional Record by U.S. Rep. J. Gresham Barrett.
“I was honored to be the Master of Ceremonies at her 100th birthday,” said Levy. “She had a street named after her because she was special.”
We join our community in saying goodbye to Hitt, and we will always remember her dedication to our residents and acts of selflessness. With sadness, we say farewell, Miss Ola.