The auditorium at the Waccamaw Library is now the DeBordieu-Cross Auditorium, named in honor of Jean Cross, a former president of the library’s friends group and co-chair of the fundraising committee for construction of the library. She passed away in August after an illness.
A dedication ceremony took place at the auditorium on Nov. 21, in conjunction with the opening of a portrait exhibit on display in the auditorium that includes a painting of Cross. The portrait, painted by John Charles, will have a permanent home in the library. Cross’ family, including her husband of 57 years, John Harry Cross Jr., were in attendance.
“Jean Cross can take lead credit for this room, for the solicitation of the original DeBordieu donors – and really for this entire new library,” said Linda Ketron, the main speaker at the dedication ceremony. The library was initially named in honor of DeBordieu Colony, which made the donation to sponsor its construction at Cross’ request. “As chair of the fundraising committee, she lost no time in pursuing her friends and neighbors and family in DeBordieu to foster their support and bring them on board.”
“In order to change the name of the auditorium, the Friends of the Waccamaw Library, the Georgetown County Library Board, the DeBordieu donors as represented by their HOA board, and the Georgetown County Council all had to vote in favor,” Ketron added. “There was not one holdout. All recognized the huge contribution that Jean Cross had made.”
Ketron read quotes about Cross from others who worked with her.
“She knew how to motivate all of us to get busy and make it happen,” said Roz Breit, another former Friends chairperson. “Jean's hard work is on display with the naming of the DeBordieu-Cross Auditorium tonight… I will always remember her courage and grace under life's challenges.”
“She was a quiet force,” said Kim Fox, marketing director for the Friends of the Waccamaw Library. “I don't think she really wanted to be in the forefront because she operated so elegantly behind the scenes. This room we are standing in simply would not have been possible without her commitment and tenacity… I'm so honored to have known Jean Cross, and I look forward to our reunion. I know she's up there planning it all for us.”
Dwight McInvaill, Georgetown County Library Director, recounted how determined Cross was in her fundraising efforts.
“She was relentlessly optimistic in her belief in an eventual positive outcome, even though the headwinds faced were sometimes rather rough,” McInvaill said. “In her thoughtful, diplomatic, gracious and thorough manner, she garnered much goodwill for this effort and in particular for this auditorium.”
Charles hadn’t met Cross before he asked to feature her in his portrait series. He paints people from the area who “are doing wonderful things in the community,” he said. The portraits are then sold and the proceeds donated to the library. Cross was recommended as a subject by a number of residents for her contributions to the community.
“She was almost like an obvious, unanimous choice to be part of this,” he said. “I loved meeting her. She was such a positive, peaceful, wonderful woman. I was shocked to learn that she is no longer with us. She never indicated anything was wrong. She was just sort of a beam of sunlight in our home when she was there.”
Born in Arkansas, Cross was 1965 graduate of Agnes Scott College, earning her bachelor’s in sociology. She furthered her education at Fordham University, where she received her master’s in social work in 1991. She worked as a private therapist and counselor in Fairfield County, Conn., before moving to South Carolina in 2004. While residing in Connecticut, she was instrumental in the founding and early management of the Weston Alcohol and Drug Awareness Program.
In Georgetown County, served on the Georgetown County Library Board of Trustees from June 2010 until March 2019, serving as chairperson for the last two years of her final term. With Ted Hiley, she co-captained the fundraising committee for the construction of the new Waccamaw Neck Branch Library from September 2009 to March 2015 – work which led to hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations for a dynamically innovative, busy and beautiful facility. She also served as a board member for the Friends of the Waccamaw Library for much of this time and beyond – until just shortly before her death.
Charles’ portrait of Cross will be on display in the library auditorium as part of his latest exhibit through Dec. 14. Among the 19 other subjects featured are Sheriff Carter Weaver, Midway Fire-Rescue volunteer Gene Turner, former Waccamaw Library Branch Manager Carlethia Rudolph, and Friends of the Georgetown Library president Bob Willey.