MS. MARY CATHERINE BRANTLEY CANTY, (81) affectionately known as, “Nana” or “Toots” was born on May 31, 1933 in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. She was the daughter of the late Martha Dennison Gore and Arthur Brantley. On Tuesday, January 20, 2015, Nana transitioned from her earthly vessel into eternal life. Her parents, husband, two infant sons and two daughters, Millicent (Frank) Burgess and Cassandra Canty preceded her in death. Nana attended the Myrtle Beach Colored School through the 8th grade. Not allowing diversity to dissuade her, Nana decided to go back to school and get her high school diploma. She accomplished this goal by attending adult education classes at night at the Myrtle Beach High School where several of her children were enrolled during the day. Nana was united in holy wedlock to Mr. Isaac Canty, Jr. from Wilmington, NC who preceded her in death. This union was blessed with eight children. At the age of 16, Nana became a lifelong, dedicated member of Mount Olive AME Church, where she served with devotion and fearless courage until her summons came to join that enumerable caravan. As a member, she served as Church Mother, Church Secretary, Announcer for Mt. Olive WMIR Sunday segment, Stewardess President, Missionary, Class Leader, Trustee, Church School VBS Teacher, organizer for the food pantry which has been named in her honor. She was also one of the original Merry Evening Gospel Singers. Nana fulfilled her purpose as a community activist. In 1978, she began working to save her beloved alma mater, the Myrtle Beach Colored School. She kept seeking assistance until her voice was heard. In late December of 2001, Myrtle Beach City Council appointed her to serve as the Chairperson of the Historic Myrtle Beach Colored School Committee. As Chair, she has led committee of volunteers dedicated to the preservation of the history of the Black community in Myrtle Beach. She spent countless hours in monthly meetings, knocking on doors of local businesses asking for assistance, speaking on local talk shows, and spreading the word throughout the community. Under her leadership, the committee raised over $550,000 to rebuild the Historic Myrtle Beach Colored School Museum and Education Center, formerly the Myrtle Beach Colored School. The dream was realized on June 25, 2006 when the Historic Myrtle Beach Colored School Museum and Education Center opened its doors. Because of her vision and dedication, the museum is open for everyone to enjoy. To commensurate her diligence and unwavering commitment to the restoration of the Historic Colored School Museum and Education Center and her service to the City of Myrtle Beach, City Council dedicated February 22, 2013 as “Mary Catherine Canty Day.” Many remember that she was among five other community members to bring to fruition the Canal Street Recreation Center as you see it now.
Nana’s other community service included Church Women United, Habitat for Humanity Family Selection Committee, Carrie Mae Johnson/Harlem Committee, Myrtle Beach Branch of the NAACP, and The Historic Myrtle Beach Colored Museum and Education Center. Because of her sacrifices, she received many outstanding awards and honors including a Service Award for being a church member of 50 years and the Omega Psi Phi Community Award. Our “Nana” was a woman of high standards, complete integrity and boundless enthusiasm for whatever task she undertook. No one is likely to forget the candor of her speech, the courage of her faith, and the warm and glowing brightness of her friendship. The moral fabric of her life can be summed up in a few words – she was sincere; she was earnest; she was loyal; she was industrious; and she was self-sacrificing. She exemplified all of these characteristics when she became the first African-American hired to work on the assembly line at AVX Corporation. She left AVX and became the first African-American cashier at Santee Cooper in Myrtle Beach. After twenty-two (22) years of service, Nana retired as a collection representative. Although she led a very active life, she remained a fervent family woman, a devoted wife, loving mother, grandmother, aunt, and daughter. Her story leaves us an example to follow and inspiration for higher and nobler deeds. She poured a part of herself into everyone she encountered and we are all blessed because she did. Ms.Mary Catherine Canty leaves to cherish her memories and accomplishments three (3) daughters, Martha (Thaddeus) Gore, Cynthia (Jeffero) Small, and Mary “Cookie” (Eric) Goings; one (1) son, James “Beaver” Canty; two (2) aunts, Wilhelmenia Maybank, Geneva Bessent; thirteen (13) grandchildren, Rita White, Taria (Darrell) Porter, Britanna (Kenneth) Wilson, Tonya Canty, Rachel (Peter) Robinson, James Aikido Burgess, James “Bull” Canty, James “Jay” White, Catherine Burgess, Annie Canty, China White, Whitney Goings, Eric “EJ”Goings; twelve (12) great-grandchildren and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, friends, and her cousin/sister and best friend, Lee Folia Simmons. Visitation will be held 6:00 – 8:00 PM Friday, January 23, 2015 at Mt Olive AME Church. Funeral Services will be held 1:00 PM Saturday, January 24, 2015 at Mt. Olive AME Church. Arrangements are entrusted to Ocean View Funeral Home and Cremation Service, LLC.