Friends of Oberlin Village is supported by a dedicated group of volunteers who keep the organization thriving and moving forward in its mission to honor Oberlin Village. We are so proud of these FOV members and encourage you to read on to learn more about our previously Celebrated Volunteers.

Swade Sanders Portrait

Swade Sanders, Sr.

Another majestic oak has been lost in the Oberlin community; Swade D. Sanders, Sr. transitioned on May 3, 2022, two days after his 91st birthday. Although Swade resided in Method, a vanishing Black settlement near the fairgrounds, his passion for Oberlin was never ending. Swade had been a member of the FOV predecessor, Oberlin Neighborhood Association, and although it disbanded in the ‘80’s he continued without fanfare or recognition to maintain the Oberlin cemetery using his weed eater and own funds. Those of you who have attended our Celebrate Oberlin community gathering have undoubtedly enjoyed Swade's homemade pound cake, which he made with love and donated annually.

Serving 26 years with Greyhound, Swade helped to break racial barriers. In 1964 he was the first Black driver in Central North Carolina and one of two in the entire state. Swade joined Oberlin Baptist Church in 1952 and later served as the Chair of the Deacon Board. Swade was a stellar example of how small acts of kindness can bond a community and initiate conversations towards reconciliation. We will dearly miss him but will continue to honor his legacy through FOV's core values. 


Rebecca Boston

Becky has shared her gifts of leadership, organization, and communication with FOV since 2014. You may have seen her leading tours, serving BBQ, weeding the cemetery, or recording the monthly minutes. A William Neal Reynolds Distinguished Professor Emeritus with the NCSU Dept. of Plant and Microbial Biology, Becky started volunteering with FOV by attending one of the cemetery cleanups, and has been a regular, along with her husband Scott, ever since. Her passion for educating the community through the stories of Historic Oberlin Village is clear as she leads and organizes group tours. By sharing all of these skills, along with her friendly and dependable nature, Becky has had a meaningful impact on the growth and success of FOV!

Mable Scarver Patterson

Mable Scarver Patterson

Mable Patterson has been a proud and strong voice for keeping alive the memory of our beloved community. Mable is an extremely talented poet and writer and has served as FOV’s poet laureate for Oberlin. Her love for the community inspired Mable to reach out to current and former residents of Oberlin and sell over 70 of our historic Oberlin notecard packets. At 85 years young, she is the only person on Oberlin Road who still resides in the home in which she was raised. The gabled style bungalow was purchased in 1923 by her maternal grandfather, Seaton Gales Turner. Mable was a teacher for 39 years and has been a lifetime member of Wilson Temple United Methodist Church. Her handprints can be found among the cast impressions on the Oberlin Rising sign.

Ruth Little wearing a red sweater holding award

Dr. M. Ruth Little

Dr. M. Ruth Little recently published the article, “Rooted in Freedom, North Carolina’s Freedman’s Village of Oberlin, an Antebellum Free Black Enclave” published in North Carolina Historical Review, October 2020.

Ruth a historian, has a Ph. D. in art and architecture and has published nine books on North Carolina architecture and decorative arts. Two of her research specialties are Black history and historic cemeteries. Ruth moved to Oberlin Village in 2016 and is one of the founding members of the Friends of Oberlin Village. She documented Oberlin Cemetery as a Raleigh Historic Landmark, wrote the Oberlin Village Historic District Report, and listed Oberlin Cemetery on the National Register of Historic Places. Congratulations Ruth!