The Titanic had not yet sailed and not a shot had been fired in World War I when this stalwart woman was born.

O’Della Mae Hershey McLeod Sloan, who was born August 24, 1911, died April 20, 2012 at age 100.

She was the third of 11 children born to sharecroppers in Marlboro County, S.C. Family finances forced the McLeod family to split up, and O’Della and a younger sister went to live with an uncle in Laurinburg.

She was studying nursing at the Laurinburg Institute when she met William Sloan at church. They wed January 4, 1934, and welcomed son Alexander and daughter Christine. The family moved to Charlotte and added daughter Bernice. William died in 1983, and Christine died in 2006.

While William worked downtown at the old Charlotte Fish & Oyster Company, O’Della worked to help support the family, first as an assistant nurse, a housekeeper and a cafeteria worker.

Smart, hard-working woman

She joined First Baptist Church-West and was active in several groups.

“She trained us to take care of ourselves,” Alexander said, “and not to depend on others. She was a hard-working, smart woman and wanted the best for her family.”

Daughter Bernice said, “She loved the missionaries and deacons, who had lots of meetings. She loved to entertain and they would end up at our house.”

Her mom loved fixing deviled eggs, canapés and fancy sandwiches and Russian tea to entertain the church folks.

Spoke out for Civil Rights

O’Della worked for Civil Rights and attended many rallies, distributed literature and organized getting voters to the polls. She was a strong-willed and strong-minded woman who spoke out for what she thought was right and just, the family said.

“She was a feisty lady, a lady from one end to the other,” said Ruth Pappamihiel, a friend from the Amity Stylist salon. “She wore high heels when she could not walk … and her hats!”

Granddaughter Fredericka Bryant said, “She was dressed to the nines at all times, and appropriate to the occasion. She was buried in her hat and had her gloves in hand.”

An elegant lady

Mattie Brown, a friend of 45 years, had been her hair stylist for 10 years. “She was an elegant lady, a caring and loving person. She was filled with compassion, peace, righteousness and power. She was very stern in her beliefs. She believed right is right and wrong is wrong.”

“She was a special person,” Ruth said.

The world can use a lot more people who are as special as O’Della Sloan, yes?


Editor’s note: This is our series called Lives That Matter. Written by Charlotte writer Gerry Hostetler, this weekly feature will profile individuals, recently deceased, who had a positive impact on those around them. Email

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