He was more than a preservationist. He wanted to discover, reveal and share the meanings of the past and the people who lived in it.
Ade Ofunniyin, or Dr. O as he was known, was a grandson of Daniel Island figure Philip Simmons, founder of the Gullah Society and an adjunct professor of anthropology at the College of Charleston.
Dr. O was also a friend and partner of the Daniel Island Historical Society.
DIHS co-founder Mike Dalhman’s reaction to Dr. O’s passing from cancer summed up that relationship: “Dr O was a friend and a co-lover of Daniel Island History and shared many things with me that found their way into the book.”
Dr. O worked with DIHS on restoring and recognizing the cemeteries on the Island that are the eternal homes to many African American Island residents…some dating back to the slave years. Beth Bush, a DIHS co-founder, says Dr. O was central to that effort.
“He was a wonderful advocate for the Gullah community and worked tirelessly to ensure the lives of enslaved African Americans were honored and remembered. He also had a very big impact on Daniel Island in terms of raising awareness about the Grove and Alston Cemeteries, where his ancestors were buried.”
Last December, the Daniel Island News wrote an article highlighting the work Dr. O and the Gullah Society was doing with island cemeteries. CLICK HERE
Here’s a link to his autobiography on the Gullah Society website CLICK HERE
An article originally written for Daniel Island Life magazine in September 2015 takes a look at the efforts to reclaim and restore island cemeteries including the role of Dr. O and the Gullah Society
That article also includes links to galleries of photos of the island cemeteries.