Sarah H. Pitts
1938 – 2016 Obituary
Sarah H. Pitts
Sarah Elizabeth Hellams Pitts, age 78, a long time resident of Clinton, SC, and widow of Charles Pitts, passed away on Tuesday, November 9, 2016 at Presbyterian Communities of South Carolina. Born March 1, 1938 in Danville, VA, Sarah was the daughter of the late Gideon Charles Hellams and Lois Morgan Hellams of Laurens. As a little girl growing up in the 1940s she loved music and art, but she also developed an interest in sports and military strategy while playing “war” with her brother, cousin and neighborhood friends. After graduating from high school, she was determined to see the world. She joined the US Air Force and used her musical talents with the French horn to earn one of only 50 seats in the U.S. WAF (Women in the Air Force) Band. In the WAF Band, Sarah performed in countless parades and concerts for military and public groups, both nationally and internationally.
After her stint in the military, she moved with her parents to Laurens, SC, where she worked in medical records at the Laurens Memorial Hospital. Mutual friends encouraged Sarah to go on a blind date with a young business man from Clinton named Charlie Pitts. They soon married and created a home for their three children based on family traditions and a love of their hometown of Clinton. She joined her husband, Charlie, in the family business, Pitts Service Station and Tire Co. and managed their business for over 20 years. She later went to work with the SC Army National Guard in Newberry. Through a friend, she learned that she could join the SC Army National Guard in Newberry and play her horn while also serving her country. Over the years, she served in various capacities in Newberry and then in the adjutant general’s office in Columbia. She was also able to travel once again “tooting her horn” and promoting the SCANG. Playing her French horn and serving her country, community, church and family brought her great joy.
Sarah spent her life perfecting her skills and talents in music, art, organization and athletics in an effort to serve others. She used her artistic talents to make banners when the Clinton High School football team won the state championship in 1972. She later made countless other banners that lined the gym for many years. She shamelessly painted portraits of her children and conducted artists’ studio time for her daughters and grandchildren.
In addition to playing in the band, Sarah was also a member of the Broad Street UMC choir for many years. She taught her children to appreciate a variety of genre, but she always loved a good cantata. She proudly perfected her skills on the trumpet so that she could play “Reveille”, “Taps” and “To The Colors” and teach patriotism while serving as Activities Director with the Clinton Camp Fire Girls summer camps at Camp Greenville and Camp Chatuga. Sarah and Charlie were supporters of CHS Athletics and worked with the booster club while supporting their children’s interests in sports. She served as a basketball coach for various teams and camps. She later became a member of the SC High School Officials Association and was one of only a few women in SC to be certified to officiate high school volleyball, basketball and women’s college basketball games. She is remembered for organizing one of the first youth football leagues in Clinton and painting a field in her backyard for the team to play. Whether she was refereeing at home or at a gym, organizing camp activities for children or military programs and disaster relief efforts for people across the state, she loved to use her time and talents to serve others.
Sarah and Charlie had three children, ten grandchildren and many special nieces, nephews and cousins. In her later years, she discovered that organizing, refereeing and watching her own children, grandchildren and their friends play football in her front yard became one of her all-time greatest joys.
She is survived by three children and their spouses: Benjamin Thomas Pitts and wife Janice of Birmingham, AL; Lydie Pitts Jennings and husband Archie of Washington, NC; and Elizabeth Pitts Craven and husband Buddy of Clinton, SC. Sarah is also survived by ten grandchildren whom she adored: Kevin, Leslie, Alexandra and Ashley Pitts; Sarah, Neill and Henry Jennings; and Olivia, Matthew and Charlie Craven. She was predeceased by her husband, Charles Thomas Pitts, her brother Richard Jerome Hellams and her parents.