Rock Hill Blackmon Road matriarch ‘kept her doors open,’ offered hope amid poverty

Hope Whitlock may have been one of the oldest residents in Rock Hill’s Blackmon Road community. Whitlock died Sunday at age 98.

Donna Berry, founder of A Place For Hope nonprofit, said Whitlock was the matriarch of the community. The nonprofit community center and communal wash house was named after her.

“She always kept her doors open, no matter who it was or what it was,” Berry said. “If they were hungry, she fed them, if they needed a place to sleep, they slept there.”

Berry said she met Whitlock 19 years ago. Whitlock lived in the Blackmon Road area, a poor community south of Rock Hill, for 55 years.

The small area’s roads are almost completely unpaved and there are nearly as many “no dumping” signs as there are houses.

“She was a remarkable woman,” Berry said. “My life would have been a much lesser one if I had not met her.”

Whitlock was born in Chester, and lived in the small white house her husband built on Archer Drive in the Blackmon Road area since 1963.

“She’ll be well missed,” said Whitlock’s daughter Helen. “She loved her family. She loved church.”

Helen said she relies on her faith now.

“All that I’m feeling now is that she’s with Christ,” she said.

Hope Whitlock loved meeting new people — and even got to meet actor Danny Glover and former U.S. Senator and presidential candidate John Edwards, Hope and Berry said.

“She just loved life,” Helen said. “She loved to meet people.”

A Place For Hope is hosting a gofundme to pay for Whitlock’s funeral.

A wake will be held from 6 to 7 p.m. Friday at Parker Funeral Home in Rock Hill, according to the gofundme page.