YORK -- A plaque on a wall in Zora Holmes' house reads: "Zora Fredrick Holmes has been selected by one or more students ... as a teacher who 'made a difference.'"
That's who she was, her family said - a lifelong educator who believed everyone had the right to learn.
Holmes died last Wednesday at age 70 after a bout with pancreatic cancer.
"We had a good life together," said Wilbert Holmes, Zora's husband of more than 44 years. The pair met when they were teachers at Jefferson High, "the black school in York," Wilbert said.
"She says I proposed while we were riding down the highway," Wilbert said laughing. "I don't remember."
Family and friends described Zora as a strict teacher who pushed students to meet their full potential.
"She made sure you were in, right on time," said Elaine Copeland, who knew Zora since they taught together at Jefferson High in the 1960s. Zora also recently taught math at Clinton Junior College, where Copeland is president.
"If today was the day for an assignment," Copeland said, "that was the day you had to have it."
Zora expected no less of her own children.
"I remember in elementary school, I actually had the nerve to come home with no books," said her daughter, Danette Holmes Burnette.
Her mom said even though the teacher didn't give homework, Danette should've brought home books to study and get ahead or read something not covered in class.
"That never happened again," Danette said.
Zora, originally from Orangeburg, was well known and active in York County. On top of teaching in York schools for 38 years, she was a member of the local chapter of the NAACP, involved with churches and was an organizer and chairwoman of the annual Juneteenth celebration.
In the 1990s she became the first black to lead the York County Historical Commission.
Among her friends who spoke during her funeral are York County Culture and Heritage Museums director Van Shields and U.S. Rep. John Spratt, D-S.C.
"She was really two persons," Wilbert said. "She was serious about work," but loosened up at home.
"Elegant, strong, insightful, incredibly intelligent and very generous. That's how I would describe her," said her son, Dylan.
Dylan recalled a trip they took to Paris several years ago. They stopped for dinner at a restaurant as a festival went on outside.
"I just remember my mom sitting next to the window," Dylan said. "Then I saw flames right outside the window. I hadn't seen her move that fast in a long time."
The flames came from a fire eater performing in the festival.
"That was hilarious," Dylan said.
Zora's hobbies included traveling and shopping.
"She's got half a wardrobe back there she never wore," Wilbert said.
Still, teaching was her passion.
"When my parents and friends would get together you could always count on the conversation going to education," Dylan said.
Danette recalled her childhood when her mother took time after teaching all day to tutor illiterate adults.
She also taught in her church's Sunday school.
One man she tutored had been recently released from prison.
"She stuck with him for the longest, tutoring him until he learned to read" Danette said.
"What I admire most is her sense of justice. She has a keen sense of making sure that people abide by what's right in how they treat each other.
"You figure, if I can grow up to be like that, then I've done well."