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Vivian Sharpe Trent


Tuesday, December 13, 2022 |Service: 11:00 a.m. |

Howell Funeral Home Chapel| 10220 Guilford Road | Jessup, MD 20794


Cedarwood Cemetery | Hertford, North Carolina | Time: 11:00 a.m.

Saturday, December 17, 2022


Vivian Clementine Sharpe Trent transitioned to eternal life on December 6, 2022, at Howard County General Hospital in Columbia, Maryland. She was 88 years old. Vivian married Graham Trent in 1966 and subsequently had two children, Granette and Maria. She was a devoted wife and caregiver to him until he died in 2006. Later, she relocated to Howard County, Maryland, to be close to her daughters and grandchildren. As she wanted, she will travel back to her hometown in North Carolina to be buried with Graham.

Vivian was born in the Chinquapin community of Perquimans County, North Carolina, a farming community just outside Hertford Township, to Eva Sharpe and Cecil Hunter on February 27, 1934. As a twelve-year-old girl, Vivian submitted her life to Christ, was baptized, and became an active member of the Saunders Grove Missionary Baptist Church. She attended public schools in Perquimans County and graduated from Hertford High School as class valedictorian in 1951. She received a full scholarship to the University of Maryland at the Eastern Shore. During her first year of college, her mother died unexpectedly. She took a year off from college to live and work in New York City to send money home to support her grandmother and younger brother. She returned to North Carolina a year later and entered Elizabeth City State Teacher's College. While in college, she joined the sisterhood of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, which aligned with her commitment to a life of service. She graduated with a degree in Elementary Education. Subsequently, she obtained a Master of Arts degree from New York University with a thesis focused on the role of guidance counseling for youth during the civil rights movement.

Vivian was an educator for over 35 years in the North Carolina Public School System and never tired of teaching and serving young people. She also taught in the Howard County Maryland Public School System and at Play Street in Harlem, New York. In addition, she led or facilitated youth enrichment and summer programs before and after her retirement. As a Sunday school teacher at First Baptist Church in Hertford, she was a vibrant leader for the early adolescent group, leading activities such as team preparation for the annual Black History Month Quiz Bowl hosted by the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

Vivian was actively involved in the civil rights movement. She bravely joined in a life-threatening effort to integrate a lunch counter in her hometown. She participated in the 1963 March on Washington and the Selma to Montgomery March in 1965. Until she could no longer do so, she was an active member and supporter of the NAACP, the Elizabeth City State University Alumni Association, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the North Carolina Democratic Party, and the National Association of University Women. She firmly believed in voting rights and was known to keep voter registration applications in her car, imploring non-registered voters to become active in civic engagement.

She was also dedicated to her children. She made numerous personal sacrifices to ensure they had opportunities to fully develop into strong, loving, educated, and independent women who could care for themselves. She was adventurous and loved to travel. An opportunity to travel through Europe during a summer break as a young teacher further expanded her worldview. She also exposed her daughters to the larger world with travel, cultural events, educational opportunities, and recreational activities. In addition, she enjoyed spending time with her family on spontaneous day trips to the nearby Outer Banks and visiting local farms to make delicious slow-cooked meals and canned foods to enjoy throughout the winter.

Vivian is best remembered for her loving spirit and kindness to others. As a teacher and counselor, she would buy clothes and personal care products for students that she maintained in a closet in her classroom. She realized when someone needed support and would provide them with opportunities for honest work and often a homecooked meal. Her home served as a safe place for an extended family of relatives, teaching her girls the importance of family and community. An animal lover, over time, she rescued numerous dogs and one cat, who became her loyal companions.

While Vivian's life was full of peaks and valleys, she lived it in vibrant color, knowing that challenges and triumphs were equally demonstrative of God's love. She was a wonderful human being and survivor whose legacy lives through her family, former students, church family, and community members whose lives she touched. She is survived by her two daughters, Granette Trent and Dr. Maria Trent; her brother Thomas "Skeet" Sharpe (Hattie); a bonus son, Jacob Marlow (Deborah); her grandchildren, Safi and Hodari Hampton; nieces, nephews, cousins, in-laws, and friends who became family through years of close friendship. While we will always be keenly aware of her absence, we are forever grateful for her presence in our lives.


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