The descendants of Lewis & Carrie Choice Dirton held a huge family reunion the weekend of August 28-30, 2003. The reunion was held at the Holiday Inn off I-85 and Augusta Road in Greenville, S.C. The event also incorporated the Blassingame and Sizemore families.
The Dirton's had not had a family reunion since August 12, 1979. That event was held at Bethlehem United Methodist Church on Staunton Bridge Road, one of the family churches. The other home churches are Baker's Chapel AME and Friendship Baptist Church, both located in Greenville.
Members of the family had often spoke of the desperate need for the a reunion, but no one initiated getting it organized until November 2001 when a Thanksgiving Dinner was planned for the family that year with eating lots of good soul food, great fellowship and of course, discussing the long overdue family reunion. The Thanksgiving Dinner was held at Bibleway Full Gospel Missonary Baptist Church in Greenville where Rev. J.W. Hester is pastor. Family members from Greenville, Spartanburg, and Pickens counties were in attendance in great numbers.
Patricia Westfield and Sabrina Sewell agreed to be Chair and Co-Chairpersons for the Dirton Family Reunion 2003. Various committees were formed that very day. Faye Dirton was chairperson for Protocol/Time and Place, Ronisha Nelson (now Ware) was over Finance along with the assistance of Darric Sewell and Dan Juma Dirton. Priscilla S. Nelson and Sharon Agnew Dendy were in charge of correspondence. Juanita, Lita and Violita (mother and twin daughters respectfully) Dirton were in charge of the Genealogical and Historical Committee. Sabrina Sewell was the chairperson for Entertainment and Activities, as well as the Souvenirs and the Souvenir Booklet. Spiritual Leaders were J.C. Dirton, Jr., Lourenco and Conshinia Fowler. Patricia Westfield was chairperson for Food and Refreshments. Steve Dirton was chairperson of the Fund Raiser Committee. Many other family members served in great capacities under these committees.
The reunion committees worked long and hard for 22 months. The family had t-shirts and canvas bags both personalized with the Dirton Family Crest. (Two Dirton Crests were found during the search for the crest). There were also personalized pens, souvenir booklets, and welcome bags for the family.
The activities and events began on Friday with registration and a welcome reception at the hotel. During this time family met, mingled, and had appetizers.
Saturday's activities began at 9:00 am with a special prayer breakfast, also at the hotel. Minister Conshinia (Sheena) Nelson Fowler was the speaker of the hour. Sheena is Dirton Family. She is the great grandaughter of Willie & Carrie Dirton Smith, the grandaughter of Willie & Evelyn Sewell Carson, and the daughter of Ronnie & Priscilla Nelson-all of Greenville, S.C. Sheena's message was "Are you faithful and fruitful, or are you wicked and slothful?" Her husband, Minister Lourenco Fowler, presided. A family reunion choir was formed and they rendered two selections. Scripture was read by Stewart Dirtion. J.C. Dirton, Jr. lead the family with prayer. Guests were welcomed by Lourenco Fowler. A Memorial Tribute, which included a candle lighting ceremony, was made by Carol Gillen. Furman Dirton, Sr. blessed the food. After breakfast, Lourenco Fowler introduced the speaker. Keturah McGee sang a solo before the benediction.
Immediately following the prayer breakfast was a family meeting to discuss future reunions. It was agreed upon that the Dirton clan plan a reunion every two years and that the family develop a scholarship fund for deserving students in the family.
The family had free time from 12 noon until 7 pm. During this time, some went to the pool, to the Roots and Heritage Festival downtown on Main Street, and some caught up on lost time and talked of the "good ole days", while others rested.
On Saturday evening, there was a banquet, a family talent show, games, and awards. There was a surprise pizza party for Sharraine Blassingame, who celebrated her 12th birthday that weekend. The children went to the hospitality room for the party while the adults enjoyed more good food and dancing. The DJ, Anthony Ellis of Greenville, provoded the music. At one point, he played "A Family Reunion" by the O'Jays. All of the family was up on the dance floor; young and old, hugging one another, singing along in a circle swaying from side to side. It was a beautiful site.
On Sunday morning, the Dirton's attended worship service at Cedar Grove Baptist Church in Simpsonville, S.C., where Dr. Robert E. Dennis is pastor. After the service, the family had a catered dinner in the church's fellowship hall. Brooks Southern Cooking & Catering out of Greensboro, N.C. (owned by Paul Daniel also known as Freddie Paul) catered the events on Friday night and Sunday afternoon.
There were over 160 members in attendance for most of the weekend festivities. Some were able to attend one or two functions, while most family members attended all of the activities.
Family members traveled from North and South Carolina, Georgia, Virginia, Maryland, New York, and New Jersey.
An article on this reunion was featured on the front page of The Community Informer, which is an independently owned local Greenville, S.C. newspaper.
(Volume 8, Number 36-September 3, 2003). The Community Informer is owned by James Bobo.