Genevieve Chandler Peterkin - Coastal Carolina University
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Genevieve Chandler Peterkin

Genevieve Chandler Peterkin, fondly known as "Sister," lived most of her life at Wachesaw Plantation in Murrells Inlet, where her family settled shortly after the Civil War. Her acclaimed memoir, Heaven is a Beautiful Place, written with William P. Baldwin, is a personal account of the area's rich history and culture.

Peterkin was born in Florence, S.C. and graduated from Myrtle Beach High School in 1945. She earned a bachelor's degree in English from Coker College and a master's degree in library science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. For two years following her graduation she worked as head librarian at the United States Army Library in Bremerhaven, Germany. In 1956 she married William “Bill” George Peterkin Jr., who was the son of Julia Peterkin, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel portraying rural African Americans of the 1920s, Scarlet Sister Mary.

She was the founding librarian for the Georgetown County Public Library and later served several years on the Georgetown County School Board. She appeared on South Carolina ETV in such documentaries as "Legacy of Conflict", "Grand Strand", "A Myrtle Beach Story", "Saving Sandy Island" and "Cheating the Stillness: the world of Julia Peterkin." These earned her statewide recognition as what the poet Thomas L. Johnson called " a vitally engaged-and engaging historian and environmental activist." She also served on the board of directors of the Coastal Conservation League and the Freewoods Foundation.

Peterkin was awarded the honorary degree Doctor of Humane Letters from Coastal Carolina University during the May 2001 commencement ceremony.

Peterkin died September 18, 2011. She “touched many hearts in her life, not only personally among her larger family and even larger legion of friends, but also thousands more through her television appearances and her books. Sis was driven to help those in need,” Charles Joyner wrote in her obituary, which he penned at her family’s request. Joyner, an author and retired history professor at Coastal Carolina University, was friends with Peterkin for more than 40 years.