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Erskine mourns retired education professor

Professor Emerita of Education Zelda Gambrell Oates, widow of Henry C. “Dusty” Oates, Sr. ’51, died Saturday, August 28. A 1951 graduate of Erskine College, she taught at her alma mater from 1962 to 1993.

“Zelda Oates helped to anchor Erskine’s reputation for an outstanding education department and trained generations of teachers,” says Vice President for Advancement and Alumni Relations Paul Bell ’84. “Her students remember her for her joyful enthusiasm, kindness, and hospitality. Even long into their careers, alumni in the teaching profession have been known to quote Mrs. Oates and tell stories about how she inspired them.”

Survivors include three sons, all Erskine graduates—Henry “Dusty” (Class of 1977) and wife Nancy; Richard (Class of 1980) and wife Kathy; and Sam (Class of 1982)—as well as six grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

A service is planned for Tuesday, August 31, at 3 p.m. in the Due West ARP Church. The family will greet friends in the church following the service, which will be livestreamed and may be viewed at A message of condolence may be sent to the family by visiting

View the complete obituary here.

Erskine and Due West Skyline

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