In the stories and history of Rockbrook, perhaps no one is more legendary than former counselor and director Ellen Hume Jervey. Fondly known as “Jerky”, she was an institution at Rockbrook for over 40 years. Jerky grew up in Charleston, SC (just an interesting side note, Jerky lived next door to The Verner Gallery, the art gallery of Elizabeth O’Neill Verner, another memorable Rockbrooker). She began her Rockbrook career as a counselor in the 1920’s. After college, Jerky was the Physical Education Director at Hood College, but she continued to work at Rockbrook for the summer. In the 1940’s Jerky became a Director at Rockbrook and continued working at camp through the 1960’s. She lived in Charleston, SC during the school year where she taught at Ashley Hall, a private girls school. She is referred to by many of our alumna as one of the most influential people in their lives.
One of the most shared stories about Jerky is that during WWII she was commissioned as an officer with the US Naval Reserves! Rockbrook closed for the summers during the war and many women became involved in the war effort. None more so than Jerky! We have searched high and low for more information about it and were thrilled to find the following article from a Charleston, SC Newspaper.
The WAVEs (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service) division of the Naval Reserve consisted entirely of women. From the very beginning, the WAVES was an official part of the Navy, and its members held the same rank and ratings as male personnel. The first commissioned female officer in the Navy was the commander of the WAVES, and she was commissioned in August, 1942. You can see from the article that Jerky was not far behind, being commissioned in December. We are not sure how long Jerky served, but will continue our research to find out more about her time in the Navy. You can see just one of the reasons why she was an amazing role model and mentor to so many Rockbrook women.
Stay tuned for more Jerky stories! If you have any you would like to share we would love to hear from you!