Flash: ON   August 20, 2017 
Missing pilot’s clothing, other memorabilia on display

Jean Blakely Hall says her mother didn't like to talk about her first husband, a World War II bomber pilot whose plane was shot down and his body never returned home.
Jean's mother, Faris "Pat" Boling Bolick Blakely and First Lt. Henry P. “Pete” Bolick Jr., both of Union, were married on April 1, 1943, in Arizona. On Dec. 10, 1943, Bolick's family received notification from the War Department that he was missing in action. Two years later, he was declared dead.
Jean said she and her three sisters were curious about Bolick.
"We had a book with pictures of planes and we would get it out and ask questions," said Jean, a retired teacher who lives in Mauldin. "But my mother wouldn't tell us much."
Pat, who suffered from Alzheimer's, was 84 when she died in 2010. Jean said after her mother went to the nursing home the family found a cedar chest under the house that contained Bolick's dress Army coat, a dress hat and a regular hat, some of his medals, including his Purple Heart; pictures and letters to Pat. Jean said she used some of the items in class when she taught Social Studies. Now retired, she wondered what could be done with the items so that Bolick would not be forgotten.
"My aunt Ruth Burnsed, my mother's sister, (who lives in Union) suggested donating them to the Union County Museum," Jean said.
In May, Jean's husband, Dan, brought the items to museum director Ola Jean Kelly. They will be on display until July 4.
Ola Jean had a link to the Bolick story. In 2011 she had helped connect Bolick's younger sister, Judy Bolick Sparks, to a man in the Netherlands who was working on a tribute to Bolick's crew.
Ola Jean said she is thrilled for the museum to have the Bolick artifacts.
“To me it shows what an important role the museum plays in Union County,” she said.
“Pat was a beautiful woman,” Ola Jean said, holding a portrait of Pat and Pete that is part of the display.
The items are on display next to a World War I ammunition wagon - Pete Bolick's father was a World War I veteran who suffered serious health problems after being exposed to mustard gas.
Judy, who is now 76, said she is glad the items are on display and plans to come to Union soon from her home in Georgia so she can see them.
“I am so glad Pat kept these things and her family members were gracious enough to hold on to them,” she said.
Ola Jean said she was especially glad to see the Bolick items because of the part she had played in connecting Judy with Philippe Vanderdonckt in Ronse, Belgium.
Vanderdonckt sent an email to Ola Jean explaining that he had done research for three years on a B-24 bomber crew that was downed over Bucharest, Romania. The navigator, 2nd Lt. Gilbert Malrait is buried in Vanderdonckt's hometown. The information Vanderdonckt has gathered is bundled in a tribute to Malrait and the crew on a website. Somewhat of a forgotten hero, Malrait was a native of Belgium who joined the United States Army Air Force.
When Malrait was killed, he was not with his original crew. Malrait had trained with a crew that included Pete Bolick as the pilot.
“The whole crew was KIA on Nov. 26, 1943, on a mission to Bremen, Germany and Lt. Bolick is on the tablets of the missing at the Netherlands American Cemetery,” Vanderdonckt wrote.
Vanderdonckt wanted to know more about Bolick and that crew. He asked if the museum's archives included newspaper articles or Bolick's obituary.
“Am looking also to find relatives who still live in the Union County area,” Vanderdonckt wrote. “I must work here in Belgium and it's difficult without help from local people in the family who probably still live in the area. I do this in the only purpose to keep the memory alive of all this young heroes who fought and died for our freedom here in Europe.”
Vanderdonckt said he had adopted graves of American soldiers at the Ardennes American Cemetery in Belgium and from time to time he puts flowers on the graves.
He wanted information on the Bolick crew to add to his website so that their memory would “be kept for the next generations.”
Ola Jean knew a few members of the Bolick family. She wrote back to Vanderdonckt that she had checked the telephone director and found none living here now.
“But I think I might have a clue and will follow that up,” she wrote back.
The clue was the fact that Judy had registered to attend the Fabulous Fifties Union High School reunion, which Mrs. Kelly helped to organize, on May 14 that year.
Before the reunion, Ola Jean printed out the emails she and Vanderdonckt had sent to each other and put them in her purse.
That warm May Saturday afternoon, she walked around the Union County Fairgrounds and reminisced with old friends and classmates, some she had not seen in decades. In a group she spotted Ms. Sparks and identified her by the name tag she was wearing.
“I said, 'Judy, I have something for you,' Ola Jean remembers. “She began reading them and I felt so bad when she teared up. I apologized for upsetting her.”
Judy said she was not upset, just overwhelmed.
“I don't believe in coincidences,” she said. “For me to be at that reunion and for Ola Jean to find me out of 400 people there? I was sitting with some other people - we were off in a corner by ourselves.”
Judy, a retired contracting officer with the Air Force living in Centerville, Ga., began e-mailing Vanderdonckt herself. She now is in contact with the family members of some of the other crew members. She said she let them know of the new items now on display in the museum.
“Even though I was only 3 (when Pete died) I felt like I had known my brother my whole life,” she said. “My mother never recovered. We never had any resolution to what happened to him. It was awful. It shortened my father's life.”
Pete Bolick
Pete Bolick, called H.P. or “Little Pete” by his family was the oldest child of Henry Pearson Bolick Sr. and Inez Gist Bolick. He grew up in a house built by his grandparents, Girard and Mary Bolick, whose families came here as Dutch immigrants. Both died before Henry Pearson Bolick Sr. entered World War I and they were among the first buried at Rosemont Cemetery. When Henry Pearson Bolick Sr. and Inez were married on Dec. 26, 1919, the house was for sale. They purchased it with an inheritance Inez had received.
Two siblings joined Pete - Robert Gist “Bob” Bolick and Judy. Henry Pearson Bolick Sr. went to work as a Union police officer after World War I. He remained on the force for 29 years until his health failed due to being exposed to gas in World War I.
Pete graduated from Union High in May of 1939 at the age of 17. Judy said he likely worked in Union Mill during his high school years as Bob did. (His father had gone to work in the mill at the age of 9 and had to stand on a box to reach machinery.
“As a youth he was a good student, a good Christian, a good friend and a very responsible, loving son,” she said. “Like most of the Union County youth he loved the fair, fireworks and Christmas, hunting and fishing, the picture show and his friends and family. He loved everyone and they loved him. He always wanted to be in the military as his father was, but he wanted to fly - see the world. Having lived with the loss and love of him all my life, I know these things to be true, but they are also reflected in the letters he wrote to my parents during his lengthy training stay at Fort Jackson as a National Guard volunteer (before the war started) and an infantry non-com.”
Over the next 19 months of training, Bolick came home for only one week - when his father's health worsened. His letters detail his training and his feelings as he misses his family and becomes a pilot.
Letters to and from home
In 1940, became a sergeant in the regular Army/infantry as a trainer of selectees. His commanding officer was Harry Arthur, then a colonel. Judy remembers that Arthur wrote to her family when Bolick got his wings and when he was reported missing. Bolick wrote to his family that a general told the non-coms they had to do in two weeks what they did in six in 1917. He wrote that his men referred to him as the “Little Tough Sarge from Co. E” and were friendly. In June of 1941, Bolick asked his mother to sign papers for him to take an aviation test. She did so with great trepidation.
Over the next months, Bolick wrote to his parents every day and wrote to Pat and friends.
In April of 1942, Bolick transferred to Santa Anna, Calif., to the United States Army Air Corps Air Force Replacement Center. He writes to his parents that the food, living accommodations and climate are wonderful. He jokingly warns his brother, Bo, who appears to be the playboy of the family that he might as well leave town when he comes back to Union in his new uniform. He writes that he has fallen for Pat “like a rock.” Later in June he is able to visit Los Angeles and buys Pat a watch for graduation.
Late in June Bolick reported to the Ryan School of Aeronautics in San Diego. Newcomers to this military fraternity are hazed and called Dodos. West Point cadets there said the requirements are more stringent than those they have encountered. Bolick wrote his family that he has completed two flights. In a letter, his mother asks him to promise to give up flying after the war. He tells her he can't - there are too many opportunities associated with flying. Later he writes that he wouldn't take a million dollars for his two years of military service. His letters tell him his friends from South Carolina are shipping out. He wants to see them but plans to do so in the “remains” of Berlin after the war.
In late July of 1942 Bolick was transferred to Tucson on training on small propeller planes. The airfield is not complete. Barracks have no windows, doors, latrines or lights. There are a lot of complaints from the guys who have been in the California paradise.
In August of 1942 Bolick wrote that he and a friend got a pass to go into Tucson and it reminded him of Union. Commenting on the 118th at Fort Jackson (with many Union men in it) leaving for service. Bolick tells his father that his job as a policeman will be quieter than ever on the weekends. He has passed his 50-hour flying test. He takes a ride with an ace instructor. They switch places. He loved it but blacked out three times. He gets a picture of Judy and can't believe how she has grown. His father writes that Humphries Willard has gone to Kelly Field, Texas, for his initial training. Bolick writes that this is great, he may be sent there for later training.
In Pecos, Texas, Bolick sees his new training plane and begins instrument flying. He writes that in a primary trainer, a mechanic had to crank the engine. The basic trainer is self-starting, is larger, has a larger engine and a two-way radio. He writes that he has been told he will be working “26 hours a day.”
That fall, Bolick's mother wrote that she wanted to come visit him. He explains that Pecos is no place for it. There is only one hotel that is always full of military officers and civilians, the environment off post is not safe and he could not stay with her. He tells her that when he goes to Advance training, it will be better, but she must bring someone with her. He describes Pecos as a small town, about like Kershaw, S.C., inhabited with Indians and Mexicans.
“The West is not as wild and wooly as it once was, but it is wild enough,” he writes.
In November, Bolick was sent to Williams Field, Chandler, Ariz., for Advanced Flying School. He is flying three different trainers with many more instruments. His mother writes that she is going to war movies. He pleads with her to go to something that will help her cope and feel better. He will be flying cross-country on Thanksgiving. He hopes he will be flying on Christmas as well since he can't be home. He writes that Bob has written him and seems to be getting the patriotic urge. He tells his mother to “break his neck” if he mentions the Army - he is going to do the fighting for the family; Bob needs to take care of the home front and the draft likely won't get him because of his polio leg. He has now soloed on the twin engine and is flying four hours a day. He is pretty sure he is on the way to graduation and when it comes, he will be closer to joining Co. E and the rest of the gang overseas.
In the letters, the Bolicks discuss friends who are casualties. He responds, “War is terrible and I'll be glad when the rat that caused it is so full of holes they can use him for a sifter.” He tells his mother he had a great Thanksgiving dinner and would like a Lady Baltimore cake for Christmas.
“That was his favorite of all - I made one a few years ago in memory of mother,” Judy said. “It took me all day, as it did her.”
In December, Bolick wrote that the weather is still warm in Arizona and he is swimming. He writes that he is fairly sure he will be a bomber pilot and he is disappointed because that would be too big and slow for him.
Later in December, Bolick's father went to the Veterans Hospital for treatment. Doctors told him his heart and lungs were so damaged from World War I gassing that there was nothing that could be done for him. Mr. Bolick asked his wife not to tell their son. Mrs. Bolick writes to her son that she has heard that he plans to get married before he goes overseas. She asks him to wait and talk about it. He writes that he has written to Pat's mother about the prospect of them marrying and she has no problem with it.
Bolick wrote that he planned to visit his primary instructor in Tucson during Christmas; they had exchanged Christmas cards. He then sees in a newspaper that the instructor and three others who had been in classes with him were killed.
Bolick graduated on Jan. 4, 1943. He was sent to Salt Lake City for a few days of tactical training. A few days later his mother wrote to him that his father was very ill and could no longer work. Bolick writes his father that he has his wings, did not get his choice, but thinks he will like the B-24. He tells his father not to worry about finances while Bob is in school - he will take care of matters. He tells his mother that he has written Pat that they cannot get married while his father is in this condition; he had rather do most anything than write that letter but it was the only thing he could do at the time.
A furlough was granted and Bolick came home to see his father. Later, when he returned to training James Vinson and Tom Mack from Union were stationed with him. He writes that he is flying day and night and going to school. One of his friends lost his girl. She married someone else. His mother asked the girl for his things. Bolick reminds his mother that if anything should happen while he is overseas, she should not do such a thing - if there was anything to be handled, he would do it. Then he reminds himself that Pat will always be his girl. The 2nd Air Force issues a new order that no man will fly more than six out of 24 hours. It will take Bolick longer to get in 60 hours.
Bolick turned 21 on Feb. 25, 1943. Two days later he writes his mother that he has changed his mind - he and Pat will marry if she will come to Arizona. He is not happy without her and wants to be with her before he goes overseas. He also will make more money in married status.
Pete and Pat Bolick were married on April 1, 1943, and settled into an apartment close to the base. Later that month, Bolick's father had a stroke but survived. Bolick writes that he has asked the commanding officer to allow his crew more flight time before transfer - they are very inexperienced.
Bolick, now a member of the 60th Bomb Squadron, 39th Bomb Group, (The Crusaders) was transferred to Alamogordo, N.M. He is told he will get his first crack at the Axis in July. He will be in New Mexico until July 1; then will move to Kansas. He will get a short furlough at that time before going over. He hopes it will be long enough to come home. Alamogordo is a “sad” town but the base is fine. When he can't go to town, Pat can come to the field.
Later, Pat writes for Pete. He is so busy she saw him for 15 minutes that day. They worked him so hard in Tucson, he lost 15 pounds. They are going to eat at the Officer's Mess because it is much cheaper and they are less likely to get poisoned - quite a few got food poisoning from the café where they were eating. Things are happening fast. Pete writes that he won't know until the last minute about anything and his mother should come if he doesn't get a furlough. He is not flying as much as he did in Tucson, mainly because they don't have enough planes, but they are making up with classroom time. Pat writes there is a new rule- if you aren't flying you may leave the base. The co-pilot's girl is coming to town and Pat is meeting her. (This could have been Maltrait's girl or the girlfriend of Lt. Smith. Maltrait was the first co-pilot, but became ill in Alamogordo and was replaced by Smith before the group went to Kansas.)
Bolick's mother and Pat's mother left for New Mexico by train. Pat wrote that they arrived safely. She also writes that they have received a letter from Mr. Bolick's sister, Della, in Laurens. All of her sons have been called up - two in the Navy. Included in Pat's letter is a letter to Bolick's dad from his mother. She writes that the weather is hot but breezy. The oddest thing she found in her travels was that after she crossed the Mississippi no one knew what grits were and ate potatoes for breakfast, even dining on the trail. The chef came out to speak to her and promised grits would be there the next time she was aboard. She inquires about Judy but said leaving Pete will be more than she can stand, but she knows he has to go. She has something special for Judy, a brightly painted chair.
The mothers stayed a week and after that Pete had a six-day furlough. He and Pat spent it in the mountains of Ruidoso, N.M., the only honeymoon they would ever have.
In July of 1943 Bolick wrote that Pat was on her way home and he was on his way to Topeka, the staging area for deployment. He tells his father he never realized seeing Pat go would hurt that badly.
In an August letter, Bolick said he had been all over the country. He sent a card from Gulfport, Miss., the only place he had a chance to land. He and his crew stayed overnight there then flew to Florida and over the Gulf of Mexico before returning to Kansas. He writes that he hopes for a chance to fly over home.
“Dad, when you see a four-engine airplane don't strain yourself believing it might be me because I personally guarantee if I ever get home you will know it and so will the whole town. I have already been able to take my bombardier, navigator and assistant engineer home and they really got a thrill especially flying so low.”
Bolick wrote that the men were waiting on new airplanes, which turned out to be the B-24H. It featured a movable turret that retracted and additional training was needed. Pat comes to visit. Bolick knows where he is going but can't tell anyone. He thinks he will get his plane in a few days and will make a 2,200-mile flight before going overseas. If so, he will fly over home.
“You won't have to worry about seeing me because I'll make enough racket to wake up Rosemont Cemetery,” he writes.
Somehow, the word was spread. On Aug. 11, 1943, the streets in Union were packed with people holding umbrellas in the pouring rain waiting on Bolick's crew to fly over. In a plane named “Gregory the Great,' he dropped his mother and Pat packages with a letter and a silk pillow case inside. All of the crew did the same thing for their families as they flew over their homes.
On Aug. 24, 1943, Bolick and his crew arrived in Wendling Field, Norfolk, England.
“Lindbergh has nothing on me,” he wrote. There is more schooling and he writes that he is enjoying listening to the English talk and is sure they feel the same about the Americans. The English have a good sense of humor and the RAF men are nice guys and good neighbors.
In September Bolick writes his father about England. Mr. Bolick had been in London during World War I. Bolick tells his father he would not recognize it after the German blitz. Everyone rides a bicycle. (When Bolick did not return to the base from the MIA mission, a friend gave his bike to an orphanage.) He said he has no news; his father probably knows more than he does.
“I now know that he flew a mission on Sept. 6 for which they received a commendation from the general through his commander,” Mrs. Sparks said. “It was their first mission but it was diversionary. They led the Germans away from the real target. They were attacked but it did not count in their 25 necessary to come home because they carried no bombs.”
Bolick said he does not know how the German people stand it; he knows they cannot sleep for fear of bombs because planes are gong and coming 24 hours a day. His father would like to know about places in England and Frances but Bolick explains that he only sees things from the air. Read the newspapers about the B-24s in England on a mission, and he will know it's him, Bolick said.
In October Bolick writes that there is nothing he wants to say - watching his friends fall out of the sky next to him is not something to talk about.
“All I can say is this is going to be a long hard war and I am it,” he said. He jokingly reports that his cold is finally cured “and now all I have to watch out for is lead, but it shouldn't be as hard to dodge as a bad cold.” He has found his friends from Company E. They have been in England for a year and are yearning for home. He was able to go hunting.
Later he writes that things are quiet, but that doesn't help him accomplish the 25 missions that he must complete before he can go home. “War is rough but all in all this would be a pretty place if it were inhabited by Americans.” He is no longer impressed with the English. At this point in the war, there was some animosity because the Americans had more than the English service men. He sees Paul James Jr.'s name on the map of the United States in a Red Cross club and asks his father to look him up. He receives a cable from his mother, which frightens him, but it was about her not receiving any mail and she was scared. He explains mail is irregular and not to worry, if something happened to him she would know in three days. No news is good news.
Bolick was promoted to first lieutenant (gold bars) on Nov. 6, 1943. He writes that he is very down but doesn't explain why. He just wants to sit by the fire.
“Don't think a fellow could stand many days like yesterday,” he said. Judy obtained a report that said the mission on Nov. 5 was to Munster, Germany. Nearby was an industrial complex heavily fortified with anti-aircraft and enemy fighters. The group had to release bombs using PFF due to poor visual target weather - fair bombing was achieved. Fighters claimed one B-24 and two were claimed by flak defenses. There were 32 causalities, 30 MIA and two injured.
On Nov. 15, Pete sent his family an Army Christmas card with the signatures of all crew members saying “we are pulling for each other.”
On Nov. 21, 1943, Pete wrote his last letter to his family. He talks about the odds of winning the game and coming home. If they flew diversions, they got no credit for them even if they were attacked or the plane fell apart.
“You have to be really lucky to win 25 to 0,” Mrs. Sparks said.
Missing in action
Bolick's wife received a letter dated Nov. 25. Mrs. Sparks Christmas card to her brother was returned MIA.
On Dec. 10, 1943, Bolick's family received notification from the War Department that he is MIA. Pete and his sweetheart had been married only eight months. He went missing three days before his baby sister's birthday.
On Feb. 20, 1944, Bolick's Air Medal was presented to Pat posthumously at his parents' home by Col. Stout, commanding officer of Greenville Base.
A year later, he was declared dead and a memorial service was held for him at the family's church, Green Street Methodist. His memorial marker was placed at Forest Lawn Cemetery with the Bolick family marker.
“The marker was designed by a friend, Sonny Gossett,” Mrs. Sparks said. “It is perfect for Pete. However, the overseer of the cemetery would not allow more than one marker to a family plot. My father fought hard but was forced to bury it.”
The day after her mother's death in 1999, Mrs. Sparks visited the gravesite and noticed many other family plots with multiple markers.
“My brother and I had the marker raised and it is now proudly placed beside my parents,” she said.
The loss of Pete devastated the family. His brother, Bob, despite his disability, volunteered and marched across Europe.
“There was no stopping him after Pete was killed,” Mrs. Sparks said.
Bolick's father, grief stricken and very ill, died four years later. His mother lived another 55 years, but never recovered. She would tell Mrs. Sparks that all that was keeping her sane was the need to raise her - the baby, the sister Bolick had loved so much.
The family has learned that Bolick went MIA on Mission 11 to Bremen, Germany. There were 25 B-24s involved. Two aborted and one lost, cause unknown.
“Bombing good - poor visual and extremely cold,” the report reads. “Lead bombardier reported that there were many difficulties in the group due to the high operating altitude and temperatures recorded as low as minus 47 degrees causing mechanical failures (frozen turrets and bomb bay doors.) Flak was moderate to strong intensity and accurate, requiring violent evasive action. Flight distance - 7.5 hours. Planes returned with six having Category 1 damage. First Lt. H.P. Bolick Jr. was missing. Cause unknown.”
Judy said her brother's plane was deputy lead. It was reported by the other crews that he was having engine trouble and was pulling up and falling back. He did not return to formation. He made it to the target, but was lagging behind. Cloud cover was heavy and no one saw what happened. Stragglers were often prime targets. “It appears that he went down near the North Sea and the mouth of the Elbe River,” she said. “The families of the crew had friends and relatives searching when the war ended. There were 11 crew members. A German report said that eight were found Dec. 1, 1943. One washed up on Jan. 14, 1944. Of the nine, two were unidentifiable and two others were missing. Several people searched for and found the graves in Germany as reported in German files. The bodies were moved to American cemeteries or in some cases, brought home. H.P.'s name is on the MIA monument in the Netherlands Cemetery. The co-pilot, Heber Smith, is buried in Salt Lake City, Utah, and J.C. Maupin, the navigator, is buried in Cleveland, Tenn. Also, because they were deputy lead of the group, they had an additional bombardier on board. He, too, was brought home.”
Judy Sparks said her mother and brother were visited in 1969 by one of Pete's friends who was on the raid. (An Air Force wife, she was in Hawaii at the time). The man explained that he was driving down the interstate, saw the sign for Union and could not pass by.
“He said they thought he (Pete's plane) probably got a direct hit, but no one saw it,” she said. “He had given Pete's bicycle to a nearby orphanage. I asked my Mother some questions she might have asked. She told me she was so overwhelmed that she could not speak a word.”
Cemetery visit
On April 12, 2012, Judy visited the Netherlands American Cemetery where Pete's name is engraved on the Tablet of the Missing.
Judy said she is grateful to Vanderdonckt for adopting the graves of four of Pete's crew. A Facebook page he started is now full of information and pictures of the crew.
“His quest for information is what lead him to search for me,” she said. “The odds against his finding me were probably astronomical. I do now believe it was coincidence that I was at the Union High '50s reunion at the moment when Ola Jean Kelly saw my name plate and remembered his inquiry. I would like to think it was divine providence; that it was time for me to remember and learn and preserve Pete's memory. I have loved him all of my life and I will be forever grateful for this journey. Thanks to Philippe, I am now talking to and sharing information with other family members. Perhaps we will find Gregory, the plane's namesake.”
Judy said she has found J.C. Maupin's brother, Kermit. He visited the graves of the crew members in 1945.
“He says J.C. wrote to him that the guys had a pact to live or die together,” she said. “Per information in the 8th Air Force Museum in Pooler, Ga., bailing out was most often not successful due to flak and fighter bullets and Germans to kill you on the ground or make you a prisoner whose likelihood of survival was low. Joyce, J.C.'s sister, says that his letters were preparing them for the worst - that they should be prepared and he was OK to go. There was no sign of 'Gregory the Great.' Mother finally believed that Pete was in the North Sea, but there is no way to know what happened to them or the plane because the Germans left no trace of a downed plane. Speculation is all we really have about that and that serves no purpose - I lived through all of that once - it just breaks your heart. I just want to keep my wonderful brother's memory alive and hope someday to see my family all together in the light of God.”

Class of ‘57 class reunion rekindles many memories
The Union High School Class of 1957 recently held their 60th reunion at Andy's Restaurant in Buffalo.
Thirty class members were present and many brought a guest, either their spouse, a child or a sibling.
The Union County News asked class members to submit a special memory from high school and these are some of their remarks:
"Sixty years?? Impossible, absolutely impossible that so many years have passed since we were graduated from dear Ol' Union Hi!" said Linda Stevens Crissinger. "The years of attending school there flew by, but they were slow, so slow, compared to the years that have romped past us since we left there in 1957.
"We came from all areas of Union County, from the elementary and grammar schools in town, including Red Top, or from Santuck, Monarch, Buffalo, Sardis, and other areas," Crissinger said. "We joined together at either the 7th grade or the 8th grade to become the students of Union High School. In those days, Jonesville and Lockhart had their own school systems and did not come to Union City schools. Once we were at Union Hi, we were melted together as friends and classmates. It didn't matter where we came from, we were all Union Hi Yellow Jackets. The blessings of being in a small town like Union allowed us to get to know everybody in school with us, if we wanted to and if we tried, and it wasn't hard to try. It was a big "ring-a-round-the rosy, all-hold-hands" place. We knew one another on the school buses, in the classrooms, in the cafeteria (oooh! those delicious, huge rolls Mrs. Carrie Tinsley and her staff baked!), in the school yard, in the 'looooong' walk down the sidewalks of East Main Street into town after school dismissed for the day. The first 'get-ready-to-be-dismissed' bell rang at 2:15 pm; the second "We're outta here" bell rang at 2:16 PM. We dispersed in all directions, with lots of us heading for Plexico-Wylie Drug Store to hang out for a while.
"Our teachers were all high up on pedestals, as far as we knew. We respected and obeyed them, tried our best to please them and to learn from them. Well, there were a few students who enjoyed teasing and taunting the teachers - and who, consequently, maybe had erasers thrown at them or had paddles appropriately applied to them by certain teachers. The ultimate punishment for misbehaving was "Being Sent to the Office" - and who knows what went on in THERE!
"The Office was a feared place, in spite of the fact that sweet Miz Eva Smith was the secretary in there and that Mr. Sam O. Turner was as nice as he could be to us. We were the Senior Class the year Mr. Manning T. Jeter passed away, on Wednesday, 27 March 1957. Mr. Jeter had been our principal during all our years at Union Hi, until he became ill. We had been in awe of him and his walking cane.
"The Office was where, it was assumed, our Permanent Records were kept. Whatever those Permanent Records were, we lived in terror of the information they held and of any reports of our misbehaving that perhaps were recorded there.
"Apparently, the dreaded power that our Permanent Records had held over us was abolished with the suspicious fire that destroyed our beloved Old Building of Union High School on 16 August 2002. The beautiful school building had been in use from 1922 with classrooms and the auditorium until 1983. After that, it was used as a sixth-grade middle school until 1993, when it was finally closed. It was standing empty when it was burned.
"We are safe from those Permanent Records now, but we still have the glorious (mostly) memories of attending Union High School. Although we have experienced the passing of a lot of the Class of 1957 members, we still have many of our friends who were in school with us and many who did graduate in 1957 with us. We plan to keep on having get-togethers and celebrating our friendships and memories annually in the years to come. Our motto continues to be "The Class of 1957 is Still Buzzin' after All These Years!"
Faye Ward Henderson, now of Clinton, said, "I was a bookworm and over the years, I still recall with a smile what Mrs. Spears would say: 'Eyes and you see not, ears and you hear not.'
Bruce McDade of Columbia said his favorite memories are of, "Hanging out at Porter's Cafe , Welcome Grill, Finchers, Foster's Park Pool."
Alvin "Snake" Robinson and his wife Sylvia Eubanks Robinson, both graduates of the class, now live in Pacolet.
"So many memories but one thing sticks out. We graduated together and one year later we got married," Alvin said. "We celebrated our 59th anniversary on May 14."
Bill Hester, now of Charlotte, was master of ceremonies for the reunion, a job he said usually belonged to classmate Monte Sprouse Lancaster. Monte passed away in November of 2016. Hester and other classmates said her presence was dearly missed. Hester said a decision had been made to close the class bank account, which had been open for many years. He said he knew there were times when Monte put her own money into the account to keep it open.
Hester said his favorite memory involved football.
"On a Thursday afternoon at football practice the team was dressed in uniform pants, shoes and tee shirts, this was a no contact practice because we would be playing a game on Friday," Hester said. "The coaches, Coach Watts and Pinson, for some reason did not come out on the field for quite some time. As they say," An idle mind is the devil's work shop." There was a large mud puddle in the corner of the field and some one got the great idea that it would be funny to throw someone in the mud and it started. In a matter of minutes every player had been thrown in the mud. When the coaches came out we all were covered from head to toe with mud. Needless to say the coaches did not think this was very funny. We had to run 25 laps around the field as punishment; which amounted to around 5 miles. Needless to say this never happened again."
Robert Shepherd "Shep" Whitener, a resident of Charlotte, entitled his memory, "The Olivers, Whiteners And 'Big Thursday.'"
"The Olivers and my family both went to Duncan Acres Church. One Wednesday night after prayer meeting, Mr. Mack (Oliver Sr.) and my Dad asked us (Mack Jr. who was also a member of the Class of 1957 ) if we wanted to go to Big Thursday (the annual Clemson-Carolina football game) the next day. As old timers will remember - this was the biggest event in S.C. Mack Jr. and I went crazy.There was one big problem however. We played on the football team and had to practice on Thursday. We decided we could not pass up this once in a lifetime opportunity. We skipped practice."
"The game was a classic - Clemson won 6-0. We were both Clemson fans. It was truly the era of 'three yards and a cloud of dust.' The next day [Friday] at school, we were informed that we would not be going to the away game that night. We were heart broken but not surprised. This was bad because I was captain of the team. After school I went up to Porter's Cafe, our hang out, and sat on the bench in front - the store was across from the old jail.
"After a long time a car pulled up and it was Coach Pinson. He rolled down his window and simply said 'get in-we have a game to win.' We drove to the gym without saying a word. Franklin Coleman [UHS 1957 & the Team Manager] had packed my gear - bless him. The story does not end well - we lost the game that night."
Patricia Jolly White (UHS 1957; now living in Mt. Olivet, Ky.), recalled that, back during her school days, she was mentioned in our UHS HI-LIFE newspaper in a column that said about her:
"Pat not mad; Pat Jolly."
Pat had never forgotten that and is still chuckling about it after all these years. She is still "Jolly."
Ken Ray, who now lives in Lexington, said his favorite memory was of Miss Edna Hope.
 "Miss Edna Hope, Latin and English teacher, would get mad at somebody or at everybody in her class, and she would stomp her foot and exclaim, 'You (or you all) make me so mad I could eat wooly worms!'"
Ray said the country music singers, the Statler Brothers, said it best for the class in their popular song, "The Class of '57":
"And the class of '57 had its dreams.
We all thought we'd change the world with our great work & deeds.
Or maybe we just thought the world would change to fit our needs.
The class of '57 had its dreams."
"It's sad to think today's kids will never know (or remember) Miss Hope's 'Wooley worms, smoking in the boy's room, pictures of George Washington and Robert E. Lee on the wall in home room, 'fake'  announcements of the PA system to beat the rush to the cafeteria, the Rialto Theater, a genuine insurance policy from Oogie Brown, Molly selling 'The Grit', ham salad sandwiches from Plexico-Wylie Drug Store, a minced Bar-BQ from Finchers, the "Teen Canteen“ on Friday nights (it cost a dime), the 'Haunted House' at Santuc, hot dogs at Crowe's Store, dances at Veteran's Park, sneaking into the drive-in by hiding in the trunk, Mr. Turner's cigar, shagging with a towel tied to the door knob, no air conditioning, cars decorated with crepe paper going to away football games, tying Miss Beatty's window shade cords in knots and meaningful nicknames - Ranger, Pistol, Mohair, Cotton, Hooch, Gooch, etc.," Ray said.
Bonnie Strother Lawrence of Santuck shared these memories: “I remember the Senior Easter Parade. The class decided on the theme, "Easter Through the Ages," and dressed in clothes representing different years of American history. For example, Mike Jenkins and Sara Ann Ridgeway wore colonial outfits. Sarah Jeter and Barry O'Dell were from the Southern plantation days and Barbara Berry and Ricky Owen wore clothes from the Roaring Twenties. Chris Brooks and I were the representatives of the 1940s. I always thought Chris looked like a wealthy gangster with his suit and hat and I looked like his moll.”

Local nurse honored for career that’s spanned 50 years
Norma Hawkins says she can't remember ever deciding to become a nurse - it was just a natural progression into a career she now has been in for 50 years.
Hawkins was honored for her years of service during Hospital Week observances on May 7 at Union Medical Center. She has worked in the same physician's office her entire career, beginning with Dr. Harold Hope and Dr. Boyd Hames and now with Dr. David Keith and Dr. Robert Wentz at Medical Group of the Carolinas Family Medicine Union Eastside.
"It is unreal that I have been working for 50 years," said Hawkins, who semi-retired four years ago. "I had just turned 18 before I graduated from nursing school in June. I thought I was grown. I remember an R.N. in nursing school told me I was too young to go into nursing."
Hawkins said she was always fascinated by nurses, even when she was a small child and her mother would take her to see their family physician, Dr. James Scott. When she was in sixth grade her step-grandfather, Claude Petty, had a stroke. She would spend the night with her grandmother and help take care of him.
"I'd help feed him and I just loved it," she said. "I knew for sure then I wanted to be a nurse. I never really thought about anything else."
At Jonesville High School, where she graduated in 1966, she took all the science and math courses she could. Home Economics teacher Doris Gallagher helped her apply for college scholarships. She was accepted at the Spartanburg General Hospital School of Practical Nursing and earned enough scholarship money to pay for her schooling, which lasted a year.
"That was a big help; it would have been hard on my mama and daddy (Thelma and Eddie Harvey," she said.
Hawkins graduated on June 12, 1967. Before the end of her schooling Hawkins was required to have a physical exam prior to taking her State Board Exam.
"Dr. Scott asked me where I was going to work and I told him I would love to have a doctor's office job," she said.
Scott called later that May and said Hope and Hames were looking for an office nurse.  Their nurse had gone to work at a local textile plant.
Hawkins inquired about that and Hope asked if she would come for an interview. They just talked and Hawkins never filled out an application.
Hawkins was hired and Hope asked her if she would like to go ahead and start working that Saturday.
"I started working on Saturdays in May before I graduated in June," Hawkins said.
Hope told her the hours would be 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. Hawkins said sometimes the days were much longer than that.
"Many times we were here until 8 or 9 o'clock because they had to go deliver a baby or do an emergency surgery," she said. "Most of the patients would sit here and wait on them and we would finish up when they got back. Even Saturday was a full day when I first came to work."
Keith joined the practice in 1979 and Wentz joined after Hope Hospital in Lockhart closed.
So much has changed in 50 years, Hawkins said. The office has been remodeled four times to help accommodate the growth of the practice.
"When I came to work a chart was almost like an index card, about the size of a half sheet of paper," she said. "When I came to work, an office visit had just gone up from $3 to $4. And that included everything they did on you - a urinalysis, blood sugar or hemoglobin. A chart had the person's name, date and the vital signs were written on it. The doctor would write down what he thought was wrong with you and what medicine they gave you."
When Hawkins came to work the office had a staff of six- two nurses, two receptionists and two doctors.
"Now there are 13 of us," she said.
Hawkins said she had not been working very long when the office started using file folders. An entire family's charts were in file folders. If a person moved out of the house or got married, he or she got their own folder.
"Now we have all this coding and insurance," she said.
The office included what was essentially a mini emergency room where patients with broken bones could be treated.
"If a child came in with a broken bone I would make an X-ray of it and we would take them back in the procedure room," she said. "I would help the doctor set the bone, they would put a cast on it and then I'd X-ray again to make sure it was in place. Our doctors were general surgeons. They did a little bit of everything- orthopedics, gall bladder surgeries, colon resections, Caesarean sections, delivering babies. They were very busy. They made rounds and took care of people in the nursing homes."
Hawkins and her husband, Gary, married in 1969. She has two daughters, Annette Heatherly and Amy Truitt, and six grandchildren. She said all of the doctors in the office have been understanding about family obligations.
"When it came time to have my babies, they would let me work part time and when I got ready to come back full time, my place was here," she said. "The doctors I have worked for have been so good to me and my family. I could have probably driven to Spartanburg and made a little more an hour as a nurse. But my children were here in school and I wanted to be near my family if they needed me, because as much as I loved my job my family comes first. If my family needed me I was gone and the doctors have always been understanding of that. God has blessed me.  My job sort of dropped in my lap. God had it all planned out. I went to nursing school and my job was there waiting on me when I got through. I had great doctors to work for and I love, love people. I love taking care of people and seeing them come back. I have become close to a lot of the patents over the years."
In her spare time, Hawkins enjoys her family and she began going on Christian mission trips in 2006. She has been to Venezuela, Honduras, Nicaragua, to a Montana Indian reservation, to Kentucky. This summer her church - West Springs Baptist - will work at a Spanish-speaking church in Atlanta.
Keith said Hawkins is a wonderful co-worker.
"She has lived the kind of life I think most of us wish we could live," he said. "She goes by the book on what a person should do to have a virtuous life, not only in her profession but also in her personal life, too. She has been blessed with some tools and she has used them to full advantage. Norma is smart, neat, organized and punctual. She is the kind of person who keeps the world turning and things going straight. She has used her talents in a very quiet way over the past 50 years."

Caldwell honored for service to Post 87, community
BUFFALO - Buffalo American Legion Post 87 Commander Daniel Burnett says Glenn Caldwell has always been a role model in the legion and in the community when it comes to getting things done.
"He's just an all-around good sport about everything," Burnett said. "He would rather be doing for someone else than himself."
Caldwell, who will turn 90 on July 1, recently was honored for being a member of the Buffalo American Legion Post for 70 years.
When he accepted the award during a supper in April, Caldwell told those present he was proud of the post and proud of his roots in the community.
"There are no better people in the world than the people from Buffalo," Caldwell said.
Caldwell was born and raised in Buffalo, one of three children of the late David and Florence Caldwell. His siblings are Ruth Lancaster of Buffalo and Don Caldwell of Ahoskie, N.C.
Caldwell grew up on Cedar Street, now Pine Street. Buffalo was different back then. He  remembers the Mill Company had a large area of land for employees to keep livestock. David Caldwell, like many other residents of Buffalo, had come to town from North Carolina to work in the mill. He met his wife, the former Florence Lawson, when he moved to town.
"Mama worked in the spinning room and daddy worked in the card room," Caldwell said. "Neither one of them ever learned to drive."
Buffalo was a wonderful place to grow up, Caldwell said.
"It was just a quiet village where everybody knew everybody and everybody loved everybody," he said.
His pals growing up were Everette Smith and Ernest Anthony.
Even as child, Caldwell was a businessman.
"I had a wagon that I pulled around through Buffalo and I had candy, chewing gum," he said.
Everything revolved around The Flat, where groceries and clothing could be purchased and there was a drug store, barber shop and restaurant.
When Caldwell turned 17 he and some of his friends volunteered for the Navy. He remembers that they included Anthony, Junior Crisp, Haskell Mitchell, Verdice Ligon and Ralph Gregory.
"We thought if we all joined at the same time we would stay together but they separated every one of us," he said. "I went to Virginia and the others went as far as California."
Caldwell served in Williamsburg, Norfolk and Portsmouth.
His younger siblings were still in school and Caldwell managed to send money home to his parents.
Caldwell was blind in one eye but most of the officers he served under did not make an issue of it. Realizing he was business minded and trustworthy, Caldwell was put in charge of the base store.
When Caldwell had been in the Navy three years a captain called him in.
"He had been studying my record and saw where I was blind in one eye," Caldwell said. "He called me in. He said, 'We are going to have to discharge you. We can't have a one-eyed man in service. What if you are over a group and you need both eyes for your group to survive and you don't have it. We don't want your group to suffer because of your eye."
Caldwell was given an honorable discharge and came home in June of 1947. He went to work in Buffalo Mill. One of his duties was to help workers learn to read and write.
 He and his wife, Hazel Smith Caldwell, were married in 1949, Mrs. Caldwell died in 2009. He has one daughter, Amy Crisp; one grandson, David Crisp; and one great-granddaughter, Lilah.
Caldwell was a State Farm agent for 41 years.  He credits another longtime agent, Boyce Wade, with helping him get started in the insurance business. Caldwell and Henry Brock operated Brock and Caldwell Construction for more than 20 years.
Amy said her father has always been a people person who cared about his insurance customers.
"He always came home for supper but we never got through supper without a phone call," she said. "And when he was building up his agency, he would go back to work. After he retired, on up until he was in his 80s, people would call him and ask insurance questions."
Along with the American Legion, Caldwell was dedicated to the Union Civitan Club, where he was an original member. Amy said during the Union County Fair Civitan had a fund-raising food booth.
"He would practically stop running State Farm to run the booth," she said. "He hired people from his office to help him. He was there closing up every night the whole week - their booth was the booth the fair people ate at and they had to stay open late."
To help support Civitan Caldwell sold countless Claxton Fruit Cakes.
"I don't like fruit cake to this day," Amy said.
At Buffalo United Methodist Church Caldwell is a life trustee and was Sunday School superintendent for many years.
"If we needed a project or needed to pay off something, they put Glenn in the podium talking to the church," Amy said. "He was always over the building fund."
"If the wanted somebody to raise funds, they would call me," Caldwell said. "And I learned one thing. In a church when you are trying to raise money, give a report every Sunday. Not once a month."
 Caldwell was Buffalo water commissioner for many years.
Caldwell was president of the Buffalo Senior Citizens and helped plan trips for the group.
"We had a lot of fun," he said.
Amy said her father has always been "a member of the committee that wanted to do good for people."
"He just wanted to help people," she said. "That is why people trusted him with their insurance. He has always been a good, honest, hardworking man."
Amy said her father took good care of her mother, who suffered from Alzheimers for 16 years.
"He's always been the caregiver," she said.
"The Lord has been good to me," Caldwell said.

Bridge project becoming reality
Seven years.
That's how long Lockhart Mayor Ailene Ashe has been pushing for a new bridge on S.C. Highway 9.
Her persistence was rewarded. A groundbreaking ceremony was held Friday morning for the new $22 million bridge, that will eventually replace the 70-year-old Askew Memorial Bridge.
“I'm so proud this is finally happening,” Ashe said. “It means that we should never give up hope.  This has been a long time - since 2010 - a lot of struggles, a lot of heartache.”
Ashe thanked State Rep. Mike Anthony and county supervisor Frank Hart for their help, along with S.C. Department of Transportation officials.
Construction should take about three years.
“There's only one thing better than today, getting started, and that's when we get finished with it,” said John McCarter, District Four Engineering Administrator.
The project will involve building four bridges - one across the Broad River, one across the Lockhart Canal and bridges across Canal Drive and Lockhart Road.
The bridge across the Broad River will be 705 feet long with two 12-foot-wide lanes for traffic, two 10-foot-wide shoulders and a 5-foot-wide sidewalk.
“Hopefully in March of 2020 we'll be riding across that new bridge,” McCarter said.
The old bridges will remain in use while the new ones are being built.
“The new bridge will be built off alignment so everything can be phased in to try to maintain the integrity of the community,” McCarter said.
Anthony said he was glad to see the bridge project become reality after seven years of discussions. He said he was sitting in a House subcommittee meeting last year after the hurricane and flooding in the Lowcountry, listening to discussion about mosquito eradication in the affected counties.
“I was sitting there about to pull my hair out and I said, 'Let me explain to you - we've got a little town that a bridge could fall in, folks.' And the head of the subcommittee grabbed me and said, 'Hush!' He said, 'What do you need?' I said, 'we need $200,000 for the seed money for this. Our C Fund committee had already committed $100,000 and we need $200,000.' He said, 'We'll get it for you.'
“That's how things happen,” he said. “We've been fighting for seven years, have we not? Luckily, I happened to be in the right place at the right time. We had filed for DHEC permits, grants from DHEC that had been denied several times. I'm really proud to be able to stand here today to say that this is going to get done and we look forward to it.”
The existing bridge traces its history back 100 years, McCarter said.
“It was one of the first major federal aid bridge projects in state of South Carolina,” he said.
Construction was delayed because of World War I but the 460-foot-long bridge was completed in August of 1921 at a cost of $76,000
In 1947 that steel structure removed and a new, 730-foot structure was built, McCarter said. Although that bridge is now 70 years old, some of the original structure was used to build it, he said.
“Parts of this bridge are over 100 years old,” he said.
The new bridge will still be named the Askew Bridge, officials said.

McKissick carries life lesson into new position at SCC
When Isaac McKissick was in the seventh grade, he stayed in trouble.
This was frustrating to his mother, Rosa, a young single mother who was trying so hard to keep her sons on the right path to earning an education.
Isaac's principal at Sims High School, the Rev. James Sanders, could see beyond these middle school years. He demanded the best from a boy in whom he could see potential.
"He would whip my behind and call my Mama," McKissick said. "My mother is a remarkable lady, who chose to trust my teachers rather than trust me when it came to my behavior."
But Rev. Sanders also told Rose that Isaac would be all right. McKissick was impressed that Sanders had faith in him and he said that is a lesson he has carried with him throughout his career. It's a lesson he has fallen back on often in his career in education and in his new job as director of Spartanburg Community College's Union County campus.
"That encourages me to look to find the best in a student - to try and get the best out of them and recognize if you have a child who is 11, 12, 13 years old, they have lived only a small portion of their life," McKissick said. "It's not fair to condemn them. We have to look at them and recognize that we are going to make an adjustment and a lot of these things they are going to grow out of. We have to make sure we don't take away a child's future because of them making a childish mistake. They have a lot of time to get things right. You have to look at punishment that will enable a child to grow out of something rather then putting them in a situation they can't recover from."
McKissick said he is a firm believer in the importance of early childhood education and that learning the three r's should begin long before kindergarten.
"I was a child that had been well-taught by the time I got to kindergarten," he said. "My aunts and a lot of the neighborhood young ladies saw fit to teach me how to read and count. When I got to kindergarten at Corinth Baptist Church, I was a little bit advanced and into everything. I have always been grateful to Mrs. (O'Neal) Sims for choosing to challenge me rather than label me. Mrs. Sims recognized a young man who was a little bit ahead but needed to be challenged."
Rather than punishing McKissick, Mrs. Sims assigned McKissick a learning partner, Donald Garner. The two worked well together.
"I am also not a fan of people talking about poverty," he said. "One of the things that happens is that if we focus on poverty and kids coming out of poverty, we really feel sorry for them and provide them with convenient excuses versus demanding excellence. Oftentimes we should treat the classroom situation the way we treat the sports situation - provide a little more coaching. In the classroom the tendency is to label versus demand more. On the athletic field the tendency is to demand more."
McKissick skipped third grade and was promoted to fourth grade at McBeth School with Mamie Rochelle as his teacher. This jump ahead would later have a bearing on the road he took becoming a West Point cadet.
McKissick entered Sims High School in seventh grade, the last year of the high school's existence before the older children were integrated into Union High. In the ninth grade, coach, teacher and administrator Paul Glenn became a great influence. Glenn was also an athletic official, and he carried students with him to games so they could see college campuses.
"Every time he went to call a ball game he had a carload of boys," McKissick said. "That got us on college campuses as teenagers. I had been all over North and South Carolina on college campuses because of Coach Glenn. This exposed us to opportunities for education greater than where we were. Basically it created the expectation that we were going to college."
From an academic standpoint, McKissick said he was not the best student, but he did well on standardized tests.
"Standardized tests have a dual edge - oftentimes it is very easy to state African American and Hispanic kids don't do well on standardized tests," he said. "I think it's more than that. It becomes a situation that is biased to address superficial issues of race versus plainly stating that no child with poor reading or poor math skills will do well on standardized tests.  In my case I had exceptional writing and math skills but didn't apply myself as I should have in class, but it came out on standardized tests.
His standardized test scores brought him to the attention of his guidance counselor, Camille Stribling.
"Somewhere along the way she made the decision I was going to West Point," McKissick said.
One requirement for admission to West Point was a congressional nomination. Many local leaders, black and white, worked together to make sure McKissick got this. He remembers his minister, the Rev. Richard Sadler at Corinth Baptist Church taking him to see Dr. Hayne Rivers, the pastor of one of Union's largest white churches. Rivers was the father of one of McKissick's classmates, Bobby Rivers.
“Ministers got together based on faith and made an investment in a boy," McKissick said.
Union Mayor Bill Stribling - Camille's husband - and Rep. Tom Gettys of Rock Hill worked together to help McKissick get the West Point appointment. Gettys was the uncle of one of McKissick's classmates, Thom White, now 16th Circuit Family Court judge. White and McKissick have remained close friends.
McKissick graduated from high school on May 16, 1975. He was 16 years old. On May 28 he received a phone call from West Point. He had been accepted. He had 72 hours to make up his mind.
"I had planned to go play football at Johnson C. Smith and go to med school," McKissick said. "But my mother told me that I had to understand - we didn't have any money and West Point was going to provide a scholarship and monthly stipend. The decision had been made."
That June 7 McKissick turned 17. His great-grandmother Luvenia McKissick, who had helped raise him, died that June 15 at the age of 91. Her funeral was on June 19. On July 7 he reported to West Point.
"It was probably the most traumatic summer of my life," he said.
West Point sent McKissick a list of physical requirements he had to meet including how many miles a day he would have to run. Someone in authority would have to sign the paper saying McKissick was physically fit to take on the strenuous conditioning at the military college.  He showed the list to Coach Glenn. Glenn called Coach Mickey Gist, a P.E. and science teacher, to help. Gist said every morning he was knocking on McKissick's door at 5:30.
"Isaac had always been a good student but he needed some work physical wise," Gist said. "This went on for six or seven months. Now, he is doing the same thing Coach Glenn and I did for him. That's what it is all about. He is doing for others what we did for him. That is my reward.  A lot of people mentored Isaac. We were two of them. I am so happy he got the job at Spartanburg Community College in Union. He understands and knows what kids need."
As he arrived on campus at West Point, McKissick quickly decided the United States Military Academy was not for him. During an early meeting in Eisenhower Auditorium. The Commandant of Cadets told the new freshmen to look to their left and look to their right. He said that in June of 1979 when the class graduated, one of the people they were looking at would not be there. It was incentive not to be the one, but still McKissick wanted to leave.
"I smoked up a phone booth - crying and sweating," he said. "I told Mama I was coming home. She decided it would be in my best interest to stay where I was. She pretty much said I wasn't welcome at home any more. She said, 'I've got a whole lot of things going on here. You stay where you're at.'"
The constant pressure, coupled with very little food, got to McKissick.
"It was a life change more so than anything else," he said. "They called it 'Beast Barracks,' the summer training for new cadets. But by December or January I figured I was going to stay."
It was the first time as a student McKissick had to apply himself academically.
"I quickly learned that when smart meets competition; only those who work hard survive," he said. "It's easy to be a big fish in a small pond. But in a situation in a highly selective college, you have to go to work. The best students from all over the country were there. I think 1,432 of us started out. We graduated a little over 900."
He said the his classmates' parents made a big difference in the life of cadets like him from small towns.
"It became the beginning of lifelong relationships," he said. "My classmates' parents took folks in. You learned to get along together. You learned to work together."
West Point challenged him and instilled the values of Duty, Honor and Country, McKissick said. It broadened his perspective of what he could do.
After graduation, McKissick became an infantry officer and platoon leader in the 101st Airborne.
After six years in the military McKissick went to work at General Dynamics in Detroit on the M-1 Abrams tank.
McKissick felt the need to do something to show young people in his hometown that there were career opportunities for them that they might feel were out of their grasp. Around 15 years ago he began organizing a career fair and having speakers from various careers visit classrooms in Union County Schools. He said the idea for this was born one November when he was invited to be Veterans Day speaker and ran into old acquaintances.
"We wanted to let folks know what they could do," he said. "A lot of times being from a small town, you limit yourself. The intent was to let them know what was possible - creating aspirations through exposure."
Debra Clayton, now an IT support specialist at BMW, has been McKissick's friend since they were 5 years old.  She speaks each year to students at the opportunity fair. She said all through the years, McKissick has been a soft-spoken person pursuing better.
"He is a gentleman whose main goal is to bring young people up - to help them and bring them up and for them to get the best opportunities available to them," she said.
No matter where he was living, McKissick never forgot Union and its people, Clayton said.
"He has been a mentor to my son and so many other young men who graduated from Union High," she said.
Billy Murphy of Union, who now works as a senior manaager with General Electric Global Operations in Cinncinnati, said McKissick has been a big brother to him since they met in 1996 after Murphy graduated from Presbyterian College. Murphy said he came back to Union that summer and was unsure of what his next step should be. Murphy said he had always wanted to go to Duke University and McKissick gave him the incentive to go there and get his Master's in Business Administration.
"The seed was already in my head and he watered it," Murphy said.
Murphy said he had a great childhood with a lot of encouragement from his mother and stepfather, Dianne and George Tyner. McKissick helped him in his career.
"Isaac gave me a lot of encouragement and motivation to navigate corporate America," Murphy said.
Murphy also speaks annually at the Opportunity Fair. He said McKissick has shown him it's not about him.
"It's about the future generation and how you can help them- make the future better for them," he said.
McKissick came home in 2008 and became School Partnerships Director for Spartanburg District 7. He worked with others to establish mentorship programs in Union and in Spartanburg.
"We were awarded a Full Service Community Schools Grant from the U.S. Department of Education to establish an Early Learning Center and I also founded the AmeriCorps Program in District 7, which provided literacy tutors for elementary school students and scholarship awards for the volunteer tutors.
McKissick said his new job at the Union Campus of Spartanburg Community College is the opportunity of a lifetime at a place that gives students life changing opportunities, including Adult Education and Welding, Advanced Manufacturing/Mechatronics certificates and degrees.
"It provides life changing opportunities," he said.

Unanswered questions
Two years later, Phillip Burgess’ family asks why he was fatally shot by deputies
Phillip Burgess' family members say they wish Spartanburg County sheriff's deputies had taken one simple step when they came to his Boiling Springs home with a search warrant for anabolic steroids on April 9, 2015, and Phillip was shot and killed.
They wish the law officers had handcuffed Phillip when they entered the home or sometime in the 42 minutes they were there before Phillip was shot.
Officers said they shot Phillip because he got a gun from off the top of the refrigerator. His family said if Phillip had been handcuffed, there would not have been a chance for him to retrieve a gun.
Phillip was supplying steroids to at least one officer with the Spartanburg County Sheriff's Office, who was selling to other officers, the Burgesses have learned through documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act. The documents pertained to a steroid use investigation involving four deputies in late 2014 early 2015. According to the documents, three of the officers resigned shortly before Phillip's death.  The Burgesses said they think an outside agency such as SLED should have handled Phillip's steroid investigation to prevent a conflict of interest.
“We still have unanswered questions and it has been almost two years,” said Phillip's father, Brett Burgess. “We don't condone what Phillip was doing as right. We know it was wrong. I wish we had known.”
Frances Burgess, Phillip's mother, said she feels the officers were negligent.
 “Why did it escalate the way it did?” Brett said.
The Burgesses said they think if the situation had been handled differently, the outcome could have been different.
According to the 29-page incident report concerning the serving of the warrant and Phillip's death, Spartanburg County Sheriff's Office Narcotics Officers knew others lived in the home with him and decided to “execute a 'soft' approach to the residence with the hopes that it would lead to Burgess's cooperation.” An investigator's note said that a “soft approach” means that investigators knocked on the door as opposed to making forced entry and detaining every one inside the residence. They told his wife, Kim, that Phillip was part of an active criminal investigation. She allowed them in and went to a back bedroom to notify Phillip. Phillip could be seen putting on a shirt and it appeared he had just woke up. Phillip was a graduate of Greenville Tech where he earned a degree as a Sleep Technician and was employed with Mary Black Hospital in the Sleep Study Department, where he worked third shift.
An investigator began interviewing Phillip but he was “very guarded and said very little.” He asked if his wife and child could leave; he would feel more comfortable speaking with investigators. Because investigators had no knowledge of Kim's criminal involvement, she and the child were allowed to leave.
During the questioning, Phillip said he did have some form of illegal substance inside the residence but would not clarify what it was. The report said Phillip's demeanor would “escalate to angry to completely docile.” Due to his “odd behavior” a sergeant exited the residence and called for additional units.
Phillip then admitted to another officer “to having items in his refrigerator.” He turned to the refrigerator and presented to the investigators a shelf inside the door that had multiple glass vials and other containers. He continued to cooperate and further confess that he had additional items in the master bedroom. He offered to retrieve these items. An investigator asked if there were any firearms in that bedroom. Phillip said yes, two were in a gun safe.
At some point, two backup officers arrived and Phillip remained with them. At one point, one of the officers considers using a taser on Phillip.
An investigator asked Phillip for the combination to the gun safe and Phillip gave it to him. One gun was inside. While investigators were in the master bedroom a loud “knock” was heard. Another officer said Phillip had punched a wall.
“At that time investigators made the decision that due to Burgess' increasing volatile behavior he should be handcuffed, detained and taken to a patrol car,” the report said.
According to a SLED report, the backup officers said Phillip was agitated.
When the decision was made to detain him, one of the backup officers said the patrol cars they were in did not have cages. He then looked and Phillip had a gun pointed at the other backup officer. He began backing up and drawing his duty weapon. He heard a shot but was not sure who fired. This officer told SLED he fired toward Phillip six or seven times.
The officer at whom Phillip was said to have pointed the gun also told SLED he fired his duty weapon. He said he was not sure if Phillip fired his gun. The report said it was determined Philip fired one round.
Officers fired 17 shots that day. A coroner's report said Phillip died from multiple gunshot wounds to the head and body. He was struck five times, including once in the back.
13th Circuit Solicitor W. Walter Wilkins reviewed the case at the request of 7th Circuit Solicitor Barry Barnette to prevent a conflict of interest.  In a letter to SLED dated Oct. 27, 2015, Wilkins said he found no evidence the officers violated any laws.
The officers indicated in their statements they fired at Phillip because they feared for their lives. Brett said in their minds, the family feels Phillip feared for his.
“Our son would never harm anybody,” Frances said. “When they came to my work and told me, 'Phillip is gone,' I looked at my sister and brother-in-law and said, 'What happened? Was it a wreck?'”
When she was told police officers were involved, Frances said she thought Phillip had been killed trying to defend an officer because he had so many friends in law enforcement.
“I said from the beginning, something about this is not right,” she said.
Brett and Frances said they are grateful for the 28 years they had with Phillip. They point out his many fine qualities, including that he was a member of the Army Reserve who had recently “re-upped” for more years of service.
 “Phillip was a wonderful son, a great father, husband and brother,” Brett said.
Frances said no matter how busy he was, Phillip called her every day. He was always loving and respectful to his parents, brothers and sister.
“We have lost a son that we will never see grow old,” she said. “He has a beautiful daughter that he never got to take to school, never got to see her grow up, never got to see her cheerlead. If he had been a horrible guy who had caused us problems all our life, I could understand.”
Phillip loved body-building and participating in competitions.  Kim said she still runs into fellow body builders who talk about what a likable person he was.
The past two years have not been easy, Brett said.
“We are thankful for the support we have received from friends, family and our church,” he said. “The Lord has helped us through this and we know he will continue to do that.”

Early intervention helps children
Four-year-old Cameron Delaney is the typical guy - he likes his wheels and his tunes.
Wearing a pair of jeans and a T-shirt with a red truck on it, he roars into the living room on the mini four-wheeler his dad got him for Christmas.
“It's got music on it,” Cameron says. “Want to hear it? It's loud.”
Cameron pushes a button and a bouncy, kid-friendly tune pours out. He throws the four-wheeler in reverse back to his bedroom.
But there were times when his mother, Latasha, wondered if Cameron would survive, much less be typical and normal.
When Cameron was born on Dec. 26, 2012, he weighed 1 pound and 6 ounces. Because of a problem with the umbilical cord Cameron was not gaining weight in his mother's womb and he had to be delivered early. He was so small, he could lie across Latasha's hand. He was in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for three months before he came home.
“It was touch and go, life and death,” Latasha said. “I sat by his side and watched them resuscitate him so many times. I watched them give him blood so many times. He had pneumonia numerous times. His lungs were not developing. It was a very hard time in my life. On top of me being there for him I had two girls at home I had to be there for.”
Cameron has two older sisters, Shymia, now 11 and Ze'Kaya, now 10. Due to Latasha having preeclampsia, Ze'Kaya also was premature and weighed one pound and 13 ounces when she was born. But Latasha said the experience with Cameron was much more difficult.
 “It was rough,” she said. “I'm tearing up now. I always had faith in God. But looking at him now, how smart he is, how far he has come. I didn't believe he would ever walk. But he walked faster than some kids. He learned how to ride a bike faster than some kids - with no training wheels. All the things he has accomplished - he dresses himself.”
Cameron attends pre-school at Foster Park Elementary and will be a kindergarten student at the school this fall. Latasha said she thinks Cameron's participation in “As We Grow,” Union County Disabilities and Special Needs Board's Early Intervention Program, has much to do with him having reached the developmental milestones he needed to reach before starting school. Early Intervention is a family-focused, in home service available to families to promote the child's age-appropriate development during the critical early years of life. The service is available to children from birth to 5 years old. The interventionist comes into the home once a week for an hour and works with the child on motor, cognitive, adaptive, communication and language skills.
Those who may need Early Intervention services include any family who suspects their child's development could be delayed, a child who has been diagnosed with a genetic, physical or mental disability, or as in Cameron's case, a child who was considered high risk due to being premature.
Early Interventionist Sonya Crank began working with Cameron when he was 7 months old. Sonya said even then, Cameron was so tiny - he looked more like a two- or three-month-old baby.
“When I first started working with Cameron he was on oxygen and he had a heart monitor he had come home with from NICU,” she said. “He wasn't even rolling over. He wasn't sitting up. I have seen so much progress over the years.”
Latasha said the program has been a great benefit to Cameron.
“Working with Miss Sonya has helped him tremendously,” she said. “His memorization, his numbers, his letters.”
Sonya said another benefit to the program is the early interventionist can assess a child and make recommendations about other services he or she may need. Cameron also had speech, occupational and physical therapy.
Angie Barber, Family Support Services Director for the Union County DSN Board, said there are five providers of Early Intervention Services who are active in Union County, but the Early Intervention program provided by the Union County DSN board is the only one based in Union County.
“We really want families to know we are here,” she said. “It is a family-based, home-based program. And when we see progress in the children we serve,  that is so rewarding. The parents learn from the early interventionist different things they can do to help their children. That is one of the goals, to teach the parent to teach their child.”
“We also enjoy developing a relationship with the families,” Sonya said.
It is very important that the family realize they need to get involved with the child's intervention program and encourage and work with the child. Latasha said her daughters enjoy Cameron so much.
“He has three mothers,” she said with a laugh. “When he was born they were so anxious for him to come home.”
Cameron's father, Jerry Delaney, is determined his son will be all he can be.
“He pushed him to walk,” Latasha said. “He said, 'He's not going to be left behind. He's going to be everything that every other child is.'”
Studies have shown that the first three years are a very important time in every child's life.
The way a child learns and develops during this time can make a big difference in the way he or she will do later in school and on into their adult life.
The early years matter. If a child is not developing as he or should, it is important to get some extra help as early as possible.
This is a list of “Developmental Milestones” for children birth to 3 years of age:
Birth to 6 months, many children
-Respond to own name
-Are happy
-Copy sounds
-Like to play with others, especially parents
-Sit without support for a short time
Nine months to one year
-Use simple gestures like shaking head “no” or wave bye-bye
-Pull up to stand
-Say 'Mama” and “Dada” or “uhoh”
-Copy gestures
One year to 18 months
-Play simple pretend, such as feeding a doll
-Point to show others something interesting
-Show a full range of emotions such as happy, sad, angry
-Walk without help
-Say several single words
18 months to two years
-Say phrases with two to four words
-Follow simple instructions
-Kick a ball
-Get excited when with other children
-Point to things or pictures
Two years to three years
-Show affection for friends/family
-Use four to five word sentences
-Copy adults and friends
-Play make-believe
Children birth to 3 years old are initially referred to Baby Net for the initial assessment to see if delays are present. If delays are found, the child is referred to an early interventionist. The family may specifically request “As We Grow.”
(For more information on the As We Grow Union County Disabilities and Special Needs Board Early Intervention Program call 427-7700. The office is located on 226 South Gadberry St.)

TV cameras catch Lancaster breaking up fight
As supervisor for template inspection with NASCAR, Michael Lancaster's job duties are varied.
On March 12 after the Kobalt 400 in Las Vegas, referee came into the mix. Driver Kyle Busch, angry over an incident where his car and Joey Logano's collided on the final lap, came after Logano. On live TV, Lancaster is seen pulling Busch, his face bloodied, out of the fight and leading him away. He can be heard saying, “Kyle, calm down.”
“It's happened before, but never on that big of a platform,” Lancaster said. “They have a competitive edge - these drivers really have a big competitive spirit and sometimes their emotions get the best of them. Wayne (Auton, NASCAR Xfinity Series director) has always told us when one driver is approaching another after an incident like that always be sure they are just going to talk to settle their differences. When it escalates that is when we are supposed to step in and try to diffuse the situation. From what I saw Sunday, it escalated and escalated quickly. I just did what I did to diffuse the situation and remove one of the parties involved.”
Lancaster said he has not spoken with Busch personally since the incident.
“His PR guy did see me afterwards and did express his thanks to me for removing Kyle from that situation,” Lancaster said.
In the footage that has gone viral, Lancaster appears to pick up Busch with ease.
“Have you looked at me? I'm a pretty good size boy,” Lancaster said with a laugh. “I guess adrenaline had taken over. I saw a situation that needed to be diffused and I did what I had to do.”
Lancaster used a firm demeanor with Busch, much like a father talking to a son.
“We know the drivers,” he said. “We speak to them. We are cordial to everybody. You see them on a weekly basis. As far as knowing people, we know more the crew chiefs, car chiefs and teams more than the drivers, but the drivers know who we are and we know who they are. To go back to another cliché statement, it is like a big family. We all are going to take care of each other. What it all comes down to is if something goes bad, we are going to take care of each other.”
Lancaster was on pit road and saw Busch walking toward Logano.
“I figured they would get into a shouting match,” he said. “I had no idea they would get into a shoving match or a fight. When I saw Kyle lunge at Joey, it took me a few seconds to get up there. I guess the thought was, 'Is this really happening in front of me?'”
 Lancaster said 15 minutes after the incident, friends and family began “blowing up” his phone, Facebook and Twitter.
“I didn't see the footage until I was on the airplane getting ready to come home,” he said. “I really didn't know what it looked like or what the situation was. I knew there were TV cameras everywhere but I just did what I had to do to diffuse the situation and get the parties separated.”
Lancaster said he appreciated the calls and comments.
“All the well-wishes and comments were positive,” he said. “But I'm not in it for the glory. I had no intentions of trying to get on TV or anything of that nature.”
Lancaster has been working with NASCAR for nearly 22 years.
In the summer of 1995 Lancaster was working with Union resident Scott Willard and Star Com Radios at the Greenville/Pickens Speedway during a Goody's Dash Series race. Someone approached him and said an official was needed to work the stop and go position.
“I said, 'Give me some instructions on what I need to do,'” Lancaster said. “From then on I was working basically part time for NASCAR.”
Later, NASCAR restructured and sold the Goody's Dash Series. Employees were given the opportunity to go with the series or continue to work with NASCAR. The majority stayed to work with Auton and the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, now called the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.
Lancaster went to work for NASCAR in the truck series full time four years ago. A year later after restructuring he began working for all three national series - NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series, NASCAR Xfinity Series and the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. He said he enjoys working them all.  
As supervisor for template inspection, Lancaster's job duties include working pit road, working the garage and working the spotters stand.
“It all depends on the situation and the assignment,” he said.
In Las Vegas, he was assigned to the garage. Duties include making sure teams are following repair rules.
“Now with the damaged vehicle policy we have in place, if they return to the garage and a vehicle has been involved in an accident on the race track or has made contact and they come to the garage they can no longer make repairs to the body,” he said. “The only thing they can come to the garage and repair would be a mechanical issue. We have to make sure they are repairing a mechanical issue and not a body damage issue.”
Being away from home is the most difficult part of his job, Lancaster said. He and his wife, the former Beth Walker, have been married since 1991 and have one son, Grayson. Lancaster is fire chief for the Southside Fire District and has been a firefighter since a week after he and Beth married.
Lancaster gets six weekends off a year. This year he is scheduled to work 31 events. Beth and Grayson sometimes attend races close to home, including the July race in Daytona last year.
Some racing fans might think Lancaster has a dream job.
“It's not all glory all the time; it's a tough deal being gone from home. But sometimes you have to do what you have to do to provide for your family.”

DSN board focuses on clients’ abilities
When Jimmy McCormick opened Fresh Air Galaxy in 1986, Delores Lowe and her three sons - all who have developmental disabilities - were among the first customers.
McCormick and the Lowes have enjoyed a friendship all these years.
“Mrs. Lowe is probably one of the most loving mothers I know,” McCormick said.
One day Mrs. Lowe was especially happy. Her youngest son, Ted, had gotten a job at Arby's.
“Ted went out and spent $60 of his own money on work pants and shirts,” McCormick said.
But the day Ted's job was supposed to start Mrs. Lowe called McCormick in tears.
“She said Arby's no longer had a position; they were not going to be able to hire Ted,” McCormick said. “She said Ted was dressed and ready for work. I told her that was all right. Ted didn't work at Arby's anymore. He works at Jimmy's Galaxy. He's been with me 25 years.”
Ted is a delightful person to be around, McCormick said.
“He cheers everyone up,” McCormick said. “He is very outgoing and all the customers love him. It's hard to get him to work. People mistake him for Elvis Presley. He dresses up like Elvis every Halloween. The things Ted loves most in the world are Elvis Presley, 'rassling and root beer.”
March is National Developmental Disabilities Month, and at the Union County Disabilities and Special Needs Board, the intent is to focus on the abilities of the clients served rather than the disabilities and work as an agency to improve and enhance their lives.
That includes efforts to comply with “Home and Community Based Final Rule” a federal mandate that says everyone is employable no matter what their disability- they have some ability that will allow them to work.
Union Services Day Services Director Carol Whitener and Union County Disabilities and Special Needs Board Director Amy Smith said the clients at Union Services are ready, willing and able to work. They need local businesses to provide them with job opportunities out in the community.
“Our task is identifying folks in the community willing to hire someone from our work center,” Smith said.
The first step would be for Whitener to talk with a potential employer and find out what jobs are available and what skills are required. She would go with the client and train or help train them to do the job.
“I would do this until we feel they are ready to be on their own,” she said. “And even after they are on their own I will still stop by and do follow-ups. We are an additional support system for the employer. We need businesses who are willing to give us a chance. And it does not have to be full time, it can be part time.”
Union Services clients are employed at Pizza Hut, the Union County Carnegie Library and Jimmy's Galaxy.
Most Union Services clients need a job they can go to during the day because of transportation challenges. During the day, transportation can be provided by someone at work services. Minimum wage is required.
“Home and Community Based Final Rule” also requires that clients be integrated into the community in social ways. Clients that live in the nine residential homes in Union County go out to eat in restaurants frequently. The Union Services clients have two nursing home ministries, at Whitney Place and Ellen Sagar.
“We sing, do devotions, play games and sometimes we do crafts,” Whitener said. “We do an exercise class at the YMCA. The community of Union is awesome. It embraces us in the social aspect of it.”
“Our people are ready and able to work; they love to work,” Whitener said.
“And they take pride in their jobs,” Smith said.
(For more information about offering employment opportunities for Union Services clients, call 427-7651, Extension 300.)

City residents depend on linemen
to keep their electricity working

According to Webster, the word “unsung” means not celebrated or praised.
Many people in Union use this word when they refer to linemen for the City of Union utility department. These men are called out all hours of the day and night, often in difficult weather conditions to repair or replace broken lines and poles
Richie Brown, assistant construction and maintenance superintendent, said linemen understand that when the power is out, people want it back on as soon as possible.
“We want to help the customer,” he said. “We don't want the power off. Like everybody else, we want to be cool and we want to be warm.”
The division provides for the operation, construction and maintenance of the city's electric distribution system. Service is provided both inside and outside the corporate limits to approximately 7,050 customers. Wholesale power is purchased from Lockhart Power Company through a billing arrangement with the Piedmont Municipal Power Agency (PMPA).
Clarence Auton is superintendent of the crew. He originally worked for Sumter Utilities and came to Union as a contractor for them several years ago to work on a utility project along S.C. 215 toward Buffalo.
“They said they needed someone here, so I put in my application,” said Auton, a lineman for 23 years.
When asked what he likes about his job, Auton says, “Everything.”
“It's all I have ever done,” he said. “I don't have to worry about doing the same thing every day. It's something different every day.”
Rubin Morris is the longest serving employee. He is currently on military deployment. He has 30 years as a Lineman/Customer Service Representative at the city and 25 years of military service including  four years of active Army 11 years with the Army National Guard, 10 years with Air National  Guard 156th  Aeromedical Squadron (Charlotte, N.C.)
Other linemen are Jamie Babb, T.J. Hopper, Matt Kendrick, Clayton Smith, Jeff Roberts and Greg Kirby.
Linemen participate in SCE&G training twice a year. It takes around four years to complete training.
 Roberts operates the light bulb truck, servicing and changing bulbs. If a power outage is reported, he is often the first on the scene.
“He handles customer issues much of the time,” Brown said. “If it is something big, he calls and says he will need help. We'll break off what we are doing if we can; if we can't, we send who we can and the rest of us come on later.”
Brown and others who were working for the utility department in January of 2000 say the storm that dumped a foot of ice and snow on Union will always stand out in their minds.
“We worked 21 or 22 straight hours with no sleep at all,” he said. “At that time there were 11 circuits that fed our whole town. All were off but three. We had eight down at one time.”
Other towns that are part of the municipal association sent utility workers to assist in Union. By the same token, Union utility workers are sent to other areas that have large power outages.
Babb, Jamie Ivey (who is retired now), Hopper and Auton worked for 21 days in Long Island, N.Y., and in the Poconos in Pennsylvania in 2013 after Hurricane Sandy.
In 2011, these men worked in Rocky Mount, N.C., after Hurricane Irene.
Babb said he loves his co-workers and the one of a kind nature of his job.
“When the lights go off, we get them back on,” he said. “We are one big family.”
The family recently was added to in a unique way.
Smith and his wife, Catie Allen Smith, had a baby. Easton Michael Smith. A day later, Kendrick and his wife, Casey, had a son, Grant Franklin Kendrick.
“They were leaving the hospital when we were pulling up,” Kendrick said.

Museum book contains old obituaries
Those who helped put together “Obituaries and Reports of Death” say it is both an entertaining read and an excellent source of Union County history and genealogy.
The book, an extract of all the obituaries published in The Progress newspaper from 1915-25, is a publication of the Union County Musuem. Museum director Ola Jean Kelly and assistant Rozelle Bramlett said purchasing a book is a good way to help the museum financially. Copies are $20 each. The museum will make around $14 per book.
“The book is selling well,” Kelly said. “I have mailed out many of them (to people ordering from areas outside of Union County.) And when we sell out we can re-order and have more in four or five days.”
A signing for the book is planned soon. Many people, including museum interns, helped work on the book and Kelly said she hopes as many of those who can will participate in the signing.
The book has been eight years in the making. Those compiling the book went through The Progress issues seven times collecting the obituaries. One challenge was the obituaries were not in a set place in the paper in every edition. According to the acknowledgement, the book is the result of much research by many individuals and includes not only obituaries, but also reports of death in the paper, accidental and otherwise.
Kelly said Bramlett had been a big help, including an extensive editing of the index of names as the project came to a close. Local historian Robert Grady, who published “Busted Until Christmas” with Dr. Dan O'Shields, provided valuable advice about the book publishing process.
The book is dedicated to the late Allan Nicholson, editor of the Progress, and his staff. They are pictured in the book.
Some of the obituaries are almost humorous. Many are tragic. Some death accounts are lurid. One death account of a 70-year-old man said he drank “a lot of carbolic acid, one of the most painful ways of self destruction.” His family being dead, “he apparently while in a state of despondency committed this awful act.”
“They went into detail about how someone died,” Bramlett said. “Now, everything is so sanitized.”
Kelly said she was amused by one obituary that said, “He was in perfect health until he dropped dead.”
“They didn't say someone had heart trouble; he had indigestion,” she said. “They had many different names for heart attacks.”
The forward, written by Grady, asks the reader to remember the times in which the book was written and that the articles and obituaries don't reflect the thoughts, opinions or beliefs of the museum's staff and volunteers.
If someone finds an error in the book, it can be corrected before the next printing. The obituaries are printed exactly as they were in The Progress; they will not be changed from the way they were printed in the newspaper.

Send a text message, help catch a criminal
Union County Crime Stoppers has been updated and now includes an option for tips to be left using a text message.
Chief Deputy Perry Haney with the Union County Sheriff's Office said Crime Stoppers is now associated with Crime Stoppers of the Midlands, which makes more options available.
“The number you call, 427-0800, has nothing to do with dispatch; it goes straight to the fusion center in Columbia,” Haney said. “They get the information and email it directly to me and Sheriff David Taylor. We look into it, we act on it.”
Union County Crime Stoppers has both a website and a Facebook page.  The longtime phone number is still in use, and a new phone number is available that is easy to remember, 1-888-CRIME-SC (888-274-6372).  
Those with tips can log on to Midlands Crimestoppers at www.midlandscrimestoppers.comand enter information. If a person has a picture they think might help solve a crime, they can upload it there.
Union is a member but is not listed on the website as a participating county because it has a separate Crime Stoppers board.
Tips may be anonymously texted. Go to your text messages, put in the phone number 274637. In the message put TIPSC as the header, then proceed with the tip.
“There are more options available with no strains on the budget,” Haney said. “There are three ways to make a tip - a telephone call, by texting, or go on line. We have upgraded the system and made it more accessible to everybody.”
“We like to get all the information we can,” Haney said. “Crime Stoppers is a good program. It works. It is successful. We have a good Crime Stoppers Board. It's teamwork. The sheriff's office is very actively involved in it, along with the city police department and city and county government. We have a good working relationship with everybody and you can see how productive it is.”
In 2016, Union County Crime Stoppers received 165 tips, which resulted in 146 cases made and 64 arrests. The types of crimes solved include shoplifting, drugs, violation of the Gun Law, child neglect, possession of or receiving stolen goods, grand larceny, car breaking, criminal domestic violence and arresting people on bench warrants. A total of 13 guns worth $3,600 were seized, $4,500 worth of property was recovered and $2,756 in cash was seized. There were 46 reward checks issued totaling $3,125.
Haney said those making tips can be sure they will remain anonymous.
“When they call in a tip they are assigned a number,” he said. “No one asks who they are; no one knows who they are.”
Rewards are picked up at Arthur State Bank's Plaza Branch next door to EMS headquarters. They hand the teller their crime stoppers-issued number and the teller gives them the money.
The amount of the reward is decided by the Union County Crime Stoppers board, which meets once a month. The amount of the reward varies according to a point system based on the type of crime, how many other crimes were solved because of the tip, arrests made, property recovered, etc.
“Some people never pick up the money,” Haney said. “They just want to do the right thing.”

Elderly man dies in house fire; two families homeless
Fires last week in Union County claimed the life of an elderly Carlisle man, left two families homeless and caused damage in other areas.
Coroner William Holcombe identified the fire victim as 88-year-old Acie Johnson of 138 Dunlap Road. Johnson died in the fire at his home Tuesday evening, Jan. 31. Carlisle Fire Chief John Glenn said the fire that destroyed the mobile home where Johnson lived with his daughter and son-in-law, Robert and Josephine Edwards, started in the garage and spread rapidly to the house. The cause of the fire is under investigation by the Union County Sheriff's Office and the SLED Arson Team. Glenn said the fire is not considered to be suspicious in nature.
Carlisle firefighters were initially told that a storage building on the property was on fire.
“I was expecting to see a shed in the backyard on fire,” Glenn. “When I got there the house was on fire. I had to call back and tell the county we needed additional resources. I got out and was waiting on the first truck to arrive and one of the neighbors ran up and said, 'We couldn't get the other man out. He's still in there.' I had to call back to the county and let them know we had a person in the structure.”
Glenn said neighbors on the narrow road where a lot of people are related had alerted the family initially that there was a fire; they were inside unaware.
Glenn said he attended Carlisle Christian Fellowship Church with Johnson. He described him as a fine man who did have some age-related health problems.
 “Mr. Acie was a real nice fellow,” he said. “I think he might have been partially blind and that is why he had some trouble getting out of the house.”
Next-door neighbor Willie Tucker said he had rented his mobile home from the Edwards for eight years and the entire family is nice. He said he sometimes went over to watch TV with the family or sit around and talk. Tucker said Josephine often took her father out shopping or to church.
“He was a good man; they are fine people,” Tucker said. “I hate that her daddy got burned up.”
 Glenn thanked firefighters who responded. All 13 Union County fire departments were represented and firefighters from Whitmire in Newberry County and Leeds in Chester County responded. He especially thanked Southside Fire Chief Michael Lancaster, Jonesville Fire Chief D.J. Long and Union Fire and Rescue Chief Kenneth Black for assisting him in command.

“I want to thank all the fire departments who assisted,” he said. “But Mike, D.J. and Kenneth helped me in running the command section and I couldn't have done it without them. A fire of that magnitude and what we had going on, no one person can handle that by themselves. You have to have resources and help from other fire departments. Those three guys were a tremendous help - helping me organize things and keeping things under control. With all the other fire departments there, we must have had 40 or 50 firemen on the scene. Our personal thanks to all of them.”
Glenn said Carlisle, like many other local fire departments, is strapped for volunteers. Carlisle has 22 volunteers on the roll, but they all work different shifts at their regular job.  Glenn said he believes 11 Carlisle firefighters responded to the fire Tuesday, which was a good turnout. He said he plans a community meeting soon - this is the second fatal fire in Carlisle's district in less than a year.
“There are a lot more people in this fire district who can do more for the fire department than they are doing,” he said. “We need volunteers and we need volunteers bad. We need to upgrade some of our equipment so we can do a better job but all the equipment in the world won't help if you don't have enough volunteers.”
Fire destroys home in West Springs
A fire Monday night, Jan. 30, destroyed the home of Leonard Dean and Gina Lawson on 4019 Buffalo-West Springs Highway.
“We received the call around 8:40 p.m. and when I arrived on the scene it was fully involved,” Buffalo Fire Chief Bryan Gardin said. “They lost everything.”
Buffalo was assisted in fighting the fire by departments from Bonham, Jonesville, Cross Keys, Monarch and Glenn Springs-Pauline.  
Gardin said Gina Lawson was in the house folding clothes when a dog barking or something alerted her. Leonard Dean Lawson was working.
“She walked down the hall and the house had already started filling up with smoke from the garage area,” he said.
Gardin said Investigator Scott Coffer with sheriff's office determined an electrical short-circuit in the garage started the fire.
Gardin said to help prevent such a fire, people need to check outlets and strips and make sure they are not overloaded.
“Be aware of what you have hooked up in your home and your garage and keep an eye on it,” he said. “If you are not comfortable with something, don't plug it in. If you don't have too much plugged up and the panel is still tripping, you have an overload.”
A value of the Lawsons' brick home has not been determined.
A fund-raising effort for the Lawsons has been started by their niece, Chrissy McKinney Wilkins on the website “youcaring.com.” Wilkins has a link on her Facebook. The goal is $10,000.

“Please help support my uncle and his wife who lost everything including their two dogs in a house fire that happened Monday, January 30th in West Springs,” Wilkins wrote in the post. “As you can imagine they are very devastated and need all the help and support they can get.  Leonard Dean and Gina Lawson are Union natives and lived on Buffalo-West Springs Highway for 22 years.  Let's pull together as a community and show love to them and help them.  Let's be the hands and feet of Jesus.
There are many ways you can help, whether it's giving monetarily, donating things, gift cards, restaurant gift cards, etc… but I do ask that all of you please pray, pray, pray for them.”
Grass fires
Dry, windy conditions helped fan grass fires fought by Union County fire departments last week.
One of the biggest fires was in Jonesville at the intersection of Jonesville-Lockhart Highway and Pea Ridge Highway. Kelly-Kelton Fire Chief Wesley Pruitt said firefighters thought a motorist throwing out a cigarette might have started the fire. It burned an acre and a half.  Firefighters from Jonesville and Philippi assisted Kelly-Kelton.
“The wind got in it and pushed it into a pasture,” Pruitt said. “It was not a threat to any property except the grass. If the wind had pushed it into the woods, it would have gotten away fast.”
No burning ban has been issued but Pruitt said people still need to be careful and abstain from outside burning if they can.
“If you are smoking, put the cigarette out in a proper fashion or in an ashtray,” he said.
Pruitt also stressed the need for fire department volunteers. He said Jonesville, Kelly-Kelton and Bonham fire departments are already training together to better prepare for the times when they are called to fight fires both separately and together.
“These big fires have taken their toll,” he said. “We are hurting so bad on manpower.”

Wedding cake top lasts 48 years

For 48 years the top layer of Gene and Carolyn Matthews' wedding cake was safely packed away in first one freezer and then another.
The couple always planned to take the cake out and cut a piece of it on a special occasion, perhaps their Golden Anniversary.
Gene did not get to see that day in person. But Carolyn said she feels like he was watching from above when the family celebrated on what would have been the Matthews’ 48th anniversary on Dec. 7.
The Matthews were married on Dec. 7, 1968, at Unity United Methodist Church.
“I wanted a Christmas wedding, but not too close to Christmas to interfere with the holiday,” Carolyn said. “I picked the first Saturday night of December in 1968. It happened to fall on Pearl Harbor Day.”
 “We didn't even think about that until we ran into a World War II veteran. He was appalled,” Carolyn said with a laugh.
Carolyn is the daughter of the late Cathren and Lee Tate Kirby. Gene was the son of the late Irene and Ira Matthews.
 “My mother was so afraid of running out of cake at the reception that she had my cousin, Mrs Waleanor Kirby, to bake a pound cake to have just in case,” Carolyn said.
Keeping with tradition, the top layer was removed from the cake and kept for the bride and groom to sample on their first wedding anniversary.
Gene at that time was living in North Carolina and working as a systems analyst with Burlington Industries.
“I didn't take the cake with us,” Carolyn said. “It was in my mother's deep freeze. On our first anniversary we were in North Carolina. We were not near the cake, so we couldn't cut it. My mother kept telling me, 'Come get your cake.' But I didn't.”
After a few years the Matthews moved back to Union. Carolyn's mother passed away in August of 1979. When Carolyn cleaned out the freezer she took her cake and put it in her father-in-law's freezer.
“It stayed in my father-in-law's freezer until 1991 when he passed away,” Carolyn said. “Then I inherited the freezer with the cake in it. The freezer came to my house with the cake in it to our basement. I kept thinking we would cut it. The years passed and it never did get cut.”
The Matthews decided to cut the cake on their 50th anniversary, but Gene passed away in May of 2016.
Seven weeks before Gene's death, he and Carolyn moved to Beaufort to be closer to their children and grandchildren. They have a son, David and a daughter, Kelley, and three granddaughters; Haley Grace, 9; Ella Catherine, 5; and Kylie Elizabeth who is 2. Carolyn said Gene very much enjoyed this time with his family.
“The cake made it down here with me,” Carolyn said. “We decided we would have a party with just family.”
Carolyn took the cake out. It was still beautiful, she said.
“It was a Christmas theme with red rosette icing on top of the cake,” she said. “I took it to Publix and asked them to duplicate it. I knew I couldn't cut it and then tell my granddaughters they couldn't eat it. I wasn't about to let them eat a 48-year-old cake.”
The staff in the bakery department at Publix gathered around the top layer in awe, Carolyn said.
“I told them it was 48 years old,” she said. “They called everybody over to see it. They were like, 'This is older than I am.' They were flabbergasted that I had kept that cake for 48 years.”
The family enjoyed the cake and party.
“We cut the cake and made pictures,” Carolyn said. “I had a bottle of white grape juice that looked like champagne. Each of the girls had a wine glass. The girls really loved this. I poured it in the glasses and we would clink them and make toasts.”
Carolyn said she wanted the celebration to be happy.
“I wanted it to be something the girls will remember,” she said. “And I think they will.”

y becoming an even greater issue across the country,” said Coie. “We want to talk about sustainability and preservation in the environment which really ties into our mission statement of exhibiting and promoting the various important aspects of plants.”
And so far, the PPG has garnered plenty of community support and recognition. They have multiple community partners including Clemson University and the Palmetto Council of Boy Scouts, who look forward to utilizing the garden's campus for events to earn merit badges. The Switzers continue to raise funds to help expand the garden's campus and have received support from events such as their Fireflies in the Garden fund raising party and through memberships to the PPG.
Mrs. Switzer said she's grateful for this opportunity to unite the interests of Dr. Switzer - gardening and giving back to the community. She said that the work has been very fulfilling so far and she hopes that in the future the PPG can be a safe, positive place for the people of Union.

Wade keeps the stadium, airport running smoothly
When Ronnie Wade became manager of the Union County Airport in 1971, there wasn't a lot there.
Then-Supervisor John Greer hired him for the new position - a county job paid for by a two-year government grant.
“It was a mess,” Wade said. “The bathrooms were overflowing; the hangar doors were torn up.”
Wade met with airport commission members Bill Greene and Jerry Lawson. Then, and in the years to come, they meant a lot to him and the growth of the airport.
“Bill - up until the day he died, Jerry - when he started preaching he got out,” Wade said. “They were the two I could always depend on.”
About eight months later, Wade was asked to manage Union County Stadium.
“They said they would get me a truck and get me some help,” Wade said. “I wound up with the stadium after that.”
Nearly 45 years later, Wade remains as manager of both facilities. He's seen them both through a lot of changes. There are more changes yet to come in the future, particularly at the airport, which is in the midst of a $13 million improvement project that includes extending the runway.

Wade and airport history go hand in hand
Wade, who is respected by his co-workers and county leaders, tells his story with dashes of humor as he reminisces about some of the folks and situations with which he has dealt.
When he went to work, the Union High School track was located at the airport where hangars are presently located. Boy Scout troops used the airport as camping grounds. The airport also had become a place where people gathered to hang out and drink at night.
The airport also was the Union County Civil Air Patrol headquarters. Pilots, like Jim Nichols, did a lot of the work at the airport on a volunteer basis.
“This building (the Quonset hut that houses the airport office) was here,” Wade said. “We eventually bought a mobile home to house the office. The runway was 3,000 feet of grass.”
Spartanburg Aviation provided Troy Shelton as supervisor, flight trainer and to set up maintenance jobs for the office in Spartanburg. The company went bankrupt and Shelton decided to stay to supervise Fixed Base Operations, including the sale of fuel.
One morning Shelton was hired to fly Torrington-made bearings to a New Orleans oil company. He left his van at the airport for Wade to use for a Timken personnel pickup. Sue Chrisawn, one of the first female pilots Shelton had trained, was his passenger.
The plane crashed on takeoff. Despite a broken pelvis, Chrisawn climbed out and made it to Shelton's van, where she used the radio to call for help.
Not long before that, Wade and Shelton had spoken before Union County Council asking for funds to cut more trees from the flight path.
“We didn't get any help that night; they turned us down,” Wade said. “That turned out to be part of the story but it didn't have anything to do with the plane crash.”
It was determined water had gotten into the fuel in Shelton's airplane.
“He had enough fuel in the lines to take off,” Wade said. “The plane cut off at the end of the runway. They crashed into the top of the trees and fell to the ground.”
Wade said it was determined Shelton died from a heart attack, not from injuries sustained in the crash. This has been the only crash at the airport that resulted in a fatality. Other planes have taken off from the airport and crashed outside of Union. The airfield at the Union County Airport is named for Shelton.
Under Wade's direction, conditions at the airport improved. Airplanes began occupying the hangars.
“We had fuel here, we had the lounge cleaned up,” he said. “The main hangar here filled up with five or six planes - we never had that many here. We had two smaller T-hangars that were full. With the stadium starting up I had my hands full. The volunteers here continued to do what they had been doing. They would help when you weren't here. They would greet people. We got rid of the people who were coming in here and drinking.”
On one occasion, two men had “convinced each other they could fly,” Wade said.
“One of them had flown two hours with Jim Nichols,” he said. “They took off one Sunday. I got a call that I needed to come down here - the guys are out flying, they don't have a radio on and you couldn't talk to them. They came back in the first time and they must have been doing 150 mph trying to land. The plane whizzed out the other side. They came back the second time they had cut some of the speed down but still couldn't land, still too fast.”
On the third sweep the men did manage to land - the plane spun on the grass and the doors flew open, but no one got hurt. One of the men indicated they needed more fuel so they could practice some more.
“Jim told me to shoot him,” Wade laughed.
Another man kept telling Wade he was a pilot and would like to take Wade up. He brought his World War II pilot's license - a lengthy yellowed paper.
“When I saw his license I knew I wasn't getting in the plane with him,” Wade said.
Another man had a tail dragger airplane parked at the airport. One Sunday morning he asked Wade to fly to Shelby with him.
“We kept getting close to the road and I asked him why he was getting so low,” Wade said. “He was reading the highway signs.”
One night in the 1980s Wade received a call. Drug dealers from Florida were going to land at the airport and the DEA needed access.
When Wade got there, the DEA had the pilot in custody, spread out on the ground. His passenger had fled down the runway carrying a briefcase.
The DEA released the pilot and left him at the airport, but continued to secretly monitor him, including whom he contacted for help.
“They wound up with two more planes that looked exactly like the one they captured that night,” Wade said. “They broke up a pretty good sized drug ring.”
The man who fled on foot was picked up by an unsuspecting passerby near the present McDonald's. He asked for a ride to Spartanburg. He had ditched the briefcase somewhere.
In the 1990s, Ron Fleming, who then served as House District 42 representative, spearheaded efforts to get a $365,000 grant for the airport.
“We built the hangars, paved the area and the county didn't have any money in it,” Wade said. “We have had those full up until now, we have one open. It has been a revenue source for the county.”
 On Thanksgiving morning 2002 Wade was called to the airport to help track the flight path of a plane that had crashed in another state. The pilot's flight plan from Florida to West Virginia indicated he had stopped in Union to refuel before the crash. It was later determined they did not stop in Union. They ran out of fuel two miles short of the runway in West Virginia. The pilot and his wife were killed.
At the intersection of Sardis Road and Duncan By-Pass another driver failed to stop for a red light. His vehicle T-boned Wade's and Wade was ejected.
As his hospital bills mounted, Wade had to file a case to prove he was going to work when the wreck occurred. Eventually the matter was resolved.
Today, Toby Solley is on-site in airplane maintenance. Wade keeps fuel prices at the airport a little cheaper than most vendors to help bring traffic in and keep the fuel supply revolving. An average of 10 planes a day fly in and out of the airport.
In the last several years, six homes have been purchased and removed from the flight path around the airport as part of an “Airport Layout Plan.” Wade pointed out that all remain on the county property tax roll.
“People thought when we were purchasing the homes we were doing that to extend the runway,” Wade said. “The runway will be extended in the opposite direction. We have property there we have already purchased.”
Dirt from the home sites will be used to level off the area for the runway extension.
A small graveyard on the Doris Loyd property will likely have to be relocated, Wade said. Wade praised Mrs. Loyd for being a watchdog of the airport in the early days.
Since 1971 the airport has grown from 64 acres to 330.
“The problem is with what we own, we have to take approach in consideration,” Wade said. “For people to do a non-precision approach we need property away from the runway. The further you go out, the better non-precision.”
Approaches must be open for corporate planes to use the airport.
“One mile of runway will handle most corporate jets,” Wade said. “Insurance will not allow them to land on anything less than 5,000 feet.”
Wade said plans call for the runway to be extended 500 to 1,000 feet at a time in two or three phases. This requires discretionary funding, for which other airports are competing. Sometimes matching funds are required from the state and the county.
“It takes time and if you are buying people's property it takes proper time,” he said. “But you have to have an idea where you are going and you have to work on it every day for as long as it takes to complete it.”
Roger Wade, Ronnie's brother and a Union businessman, said Ronnie has been a neat and orderly person all of his life and keeps up well with the paperwork associated with his job. Roger said he saw this on a professional level when he was serving on Union County Council and council worked with Ronnie.
“He has been that way all of his life; anything he did he put his whole heart into it,” Roger said. “Anything he did he was going to make sure it was done right.”
Ronnie knows how to get grants for projects, Roger said.
“When they put him over the stadium and airport, nobody had really been in charge of anything before,” Roger said. “Ronnie went the extra mile. The stadium isn't new but he tried to keep up what we had. He worked with the special needs people to get the handicapped ramp. Before, it was just about impossible for people with disabilities to come to a game.”
Ronnie has been to many schools learning how to care for the football field turf, Roger said, and the good condition of the field shows this.
The Wade family has been involved in restaurant ventures off and on for many years, including a food booth at the fair, “C.D.'s Downtown” and Ronnie's “Wade's” in Buffalo. Roger said it was work but a lot of fun to work together and Ronnie was a stickler for cleanliness.
“Godliness was cleanliness to him,” Roger said, adding that even Ronnie's basement is organized.  
Ronnie always loved to cook, Roger said. He remembers Ronnie using thin cut potatoes to make fried potato sandwiches for them when they were young. At C.D.'s customers loved the prime rib, which Ronnie seasoned.
Union County Stadium
The stadium also has come a long way under Wade's direction. He remembers in the early days he would have to borrow equipment from Charlie Eaves, whose duties included overseeing the County Home with his wife, Odell Turner Eaves. Eaves grew a huge garden and managed cows, chickens and pigs to feed the 32 residents of the home plus prisoners at the “Chain Gang.” The food often included fresh eggs and bacon.
“I always made sure I got there at breakfast,” Wade said with a laugh.
When the stadium was remodeled, everyone had to work together, Wade said.
“The city paid a third, the county paid two thirds,” he said. “The Union Times gave me $1,500. The radio station gave me $1,500. We built the press box at the same time. The Booster Club gave me $15,000 and the Band Aid gave me $15,000. We put in irrigation, we crowned the field. I used to have a bowl in the field and you would nearly drown when you had a pileup.”
The baseball field had a 220-foot right field fence.
“The train depot gave us a ton of railroad ties and we actually built a wall and extended it; we finally got the field out to 310 feet in right field,” Wade said. “I remember Frank Garner (longtime depot manager) called me and said, 'Your train car is here.' I said, 'What train car?' He said, 'Didn't you ask for some railroad ties? Your car is sitting over here.' We didn't have anything in the county that would lift it. We didn't even have a backhoe then. I called Fred Young at the city, who was over the street department. I asked him if they could use some railroad ties. They went over there with the line truck, the city bucket truck and that was how we unloaded the train. We went in halves on the ties.”
The baseball field wall remains today.
After Union County Recreation Department restructuring, Wade and airport and stadium assistant Sue Cudd have added duties. They help with fairground activities and the Timken Sports Complex. Cudd also works part time at voter registration, the recreation department and veterans administration as needed.
“For over four decades Ronnie Wade has faithfully served the people of Union County,” said county supervisor Frank Hart. “His commitment and passion for the people of Union County serve as an example to all of us.  He has been and continues to be a great resource for our county.”
Wade is currently involved with a park project for the Ottaray Community that includes a picnic shelter and a field. Wade said building director Kenny West and inmate labor from the Union County Detention Center have done a good job with this and other projects - they also recently built some new hangar doors at the airport.
Through it all, he says with a mix of humor and seriousness, he has found one truth, a truth that he tells maintenance workers.
“The most important part is keeping the bathroom clean,” he said. “The first thing you will hear for a complaint is the bathroom wasn't clean.”

June Miller keeping Clerk of Court’s office humming
June Miller said she thought her work in the Union County Clerk of Court's office was done when she retired in 2004.
She thought it was finally done in 2015 when she left again after working part time for five years.
Then, duty called again. And it just isn't like Mrs. Miller to say no. She is currently filling out the unexpired term of Freddie Gault, who resigned as clerk to take a job as liaison for Rep. Mick Mulvaney. She will be clerk of court until the new clerk takes office in January of 2017.
Mrs. Miller said when she retired in 2004 for the first time, she was not really happy. She said she really wished she could have worked two more years, but she did not want to retire in mid-term and require the county to have a special election.
But coming back to the office never crossed her mind.
“Then when Freddie was appointed (2009) he called me and said, 'Miss June, we need your help. If you could just come in three days a week for two or three months and help us to try and get us straightened out, it would mean so much. It is a big mess - we have 18 months of reports that have not been turned in.'”
Mrs. Miller said she told Gault that she would have to think about the offer
Mrs. Miller said she isn't a pack rat - when she thinks she won't ever use anything, she throws it away.
But when she retired as Union County Clerk of Court after 20 years of service, she kept a box that contained her official stamps and seals. She also had a file cabinet with copies of reports.
“It was everything I had used in the clerk of court's office,” she said. “I pulled all that out to sort of refresh my memory. I told Freddie I would have to talk to Joel (her husband of 60 years) and we would have to pray about it.”
Mrs. Miller came back to help for what was supposed to be a few months. She stayed five years.
“Instead of working three days I ended up working five days a week to go on and get it done,” she said with a laugh. “As time went on, I did slow down. But every time I mentioned to Freddie that it was time to get someone else, he would say, 'This is working out fine.'”
In June of 2015 the county faced a budget crisis and some positions had to be eliminated. Mrs. Miller said she decided then she needed to go ahead and leave her job.
“I went to Freddie and said, 'It's time for me to go.'” she said.
The Millers' daughter, Carolyn, and her family came to eat with her parents on Thanksgiving.
“I heard her telling her daddy, 'If my mother talks about going back to work anymore that is one time I am going to put my foot down,” Mrs. Miller said.
Then in December Gault called and said he wanted her to be appointed in his place.
“The first thing I thought about is what Carolyn said,” Mrs. Miller said.
There were many things to consider. Joel has had some health problems. Mrs. Miller's 96-year-old mother, Marguerite Harvey, lives next door to them.
“Joel loves her,” Mrs. Miller said. “He could not love a mother any more than he loves my mother. And I tell people she loves Joel more than she loves me.”
Mrs. Miller called Carolyn and reminded her of what she had said.
“She said, “Mother, the reason I said that was that was your life. You were up their weekends; you didn't take vacations a lot of times because you felt like you needed to be there. If you could go back up there, help them with things, work 9 to 5, not bring it home, just get things the way it should be, that would be fine. But I don't believe you can do that.'  I said this time, I think I can.”
The Millers prayed about it and decided June should take the offer. In their 60 years of marriage they have relied on prayer a lot, she said.
The Millers met when they were teen-agers. Mrs. Miller was a member at Mon-Aetna Baptist Church. Joel's father was the first full-time pastor at Philippi Baptist Church - the Rev. Coy Miller. Mrs. Miller visited Philippi with a friend.
“We were just children when we got married,” she said. “We now have five great-grandsons.” (Carolyn and her husband, Terry, have two daughters, Christi Barkley and Katie Kerley.)
Mrs. Miller laughs as she tells the story of her and Joel's wedding. Joel gave her a diamond when she was in the 11th grade. They had plans for a church wedding, on June 16 after she graduated from high school. Neighbor Andy Littlejohn would be the ring bearer. His mother already had his little suit laid away. June's cousin would be the flower girl. Rachel Bishop Kendrick would be the maid of honor. Joel's father and the Rev. John Hicks of Mon-Aetna would do the service.
But Joel began to feel like he just couldn't go through the stress of a church wedding. They decided to elope - after June's senior prom.
“I was just 17,” Mrs. Miller said. “We told a story about my age and got a marriage license. We started planning things and putting things away - under my bed and behind my bed. I packed a little suitcase.”
Joel asked a couple of pastors to officiate the wedding. Out of respect for his father, none would agree. Joel told his mother what they had planned.
When Mrs. Miller came out of school, her mother and Joel's mother were waiting for her. They told her if she and Joel were determined to get married, Joel's father would perform the service. First, the matter of the marriage license had to be straightened out.
Word got around in town. Ruth Chalk, who sold clothing, sent Mrs. Miller some items before the wedding. Mrs. Miller weighed 92 pounds. Her mother took her to the children's department at Belk and brought her some pedal pushers to wear at the beach.
“We got married at 7 o'clock, went to the prom at 8 o'clock and left for the beach at 9 o'clock,” Mrs. Miller said. “I got married in my prom dress. Lucille got Andy's suit out of layaway, my cousin was my flower girl. Rachel wore her prom dress. Roland Kirby came and played the organ. We had a church wedding anyway and we wouldn't take anything in the world for it.”
Now 77, Mrs. Miller said she thinks this time she is retiring for the last time. She hopes to spend more time with Joel, her mother, and the rest of her family. She thanks her co-workers in the Clerk of Court's Office for making this last time there special. When they encouraged her to take the job they told her they would back her up anytime she needed to take personal time. She said she appreciated Amy Gibson, who stepped up to do the duties of deputy clerk in the absence of Donna Owings, who had to undergo surgery.
“They have been the best group to work with,” she said. “They told me, 'Whatever you have going on if you need to leave we're here for you.'”
Gault said Mrs. Miller has “done her time and done it well.” He said when Mrs. Miller agreed to take the clerk of court's position, the people who work in her office as well as other clerks of court across the state were grateful because they knew what a good job she would do.
“She is a hard worker and she is a very dedicated person,” he said. “She takes the job to heart. To really be the clerk of court it can't be a 9 to 5 job. You have to live it. When you get home you get calls all the time - people with issues and problems and sometimes you can help them and sometimes you can't.”
16th Judicial Circuit Judge John C. Hayes III said he first met Mrs. Miller when he was sworn in 25 years ago. He said she looks the same as she did then, always well dressed and with a pleasant smile.
“She has taught me a lot about how to handle court and how to handle people in general,” he said.

Family shares autism story
For Christmas, Jackson Farr got an X Box One and a complicated Minecraft game that his parents thought would take him a while to master because he is only 7.
“Within the first hour he came in and asked, 'Daddy, what's the password?'” remembers Jackson's father, Tee Farr. “I told him he had just started. He said, 'I've already beaten Level 1.'”
Tee was amazed. Jackson's older brother, Will, who is 10, concurred that he had beaten the level.
“In a matter of a few hours he has beaten that entire game, a complicated game,” Tee said. “He doesn't like to read for leisure, he likes to be active, but he is two or three grades above on his reading level.”
“He's definitely high functioning,” Stacy said. “He's just quirky - it's him.”
Stacy is lay leader at her church, Foster Chapel United Methodist. From time to time in the absence of their minister, the Rev. Glenn Ribelin, she is called to fill the pulpit, either with a speaker or she may speak herself.  Coinciding with April being Autism Awareness Month, she recently spoke about Jackson's diagnosis - Autism Spectrum Disorder - which the family received in October of 2015. She tied in Scripture on which the family relies.
“Sharing his diagnoses and our journey is very personal, but one that I want to share with others because in our journey, it is my goal to raise awareness for autism and help community members become better educated about this disorder,” she said. “As a parent, educator and advocate, I am hopeful that this awareness will lead to a greater acceptance and understanding of individuals with autism and help with children being diagnosed and treated at an early age.”
Autism is a brain disorder in which communication and interaction with others are difficult, Stacy said. The symptoms of autism may range from total lack of communication with others to difficulty in understanding others' feelings.  Because of the range in symptoms, this condition is now called Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Characteristics of ASD are a delay in motor skills, a lack of skill in interacting with others, little understanding of the abstract uses of language, such as humor or give and take conversations, obsessive interest in specific items or information, strong reactions to textures, smells, sounds, sights, or other stimuli that others might not even notice, such as flickering lights.
Some people with ASD want to be involved with others. They simply just don't know how to go about it. They may not be able to understand others' emotions or read facial expressions or body language well; due to this they may be teased and labeled as “awkward” or “quirky.”
The Farrs are both 33. Along with Will and Jackson, they have another son, Samuel, who is 4. Tee is a teacher at Union County High School who coaches football and baseball at Sims Middle School. Next year he will be an assistant principal at Union County High. Stacy is an assistant principal at Newberry Elementary School.
As Jackson grew and began to develop a personality, Tee and Stacy noticed that he had some “quirks” in his behavior and social skills. She discussed these with the doctor during every checkup. Every time she was told Jackson was normal. He is intelligent and reached appropriate growth milestones.
In April of 2015 Stacy insisted on a referral for testing. The waiting list was so long an appointment could not be made until September.
The diagnosis was a relief in a way.
“We expected it but in that moment, it's reality when you hear those words,” Stacy said. “I realize that I will not always be here for him - to be the mama that can swoop in and rescue him and be there for every little thing. It is definitely my passion to prepare him for the world one day and prepare the world for the differences in not just him but other people and other children with all types of disabilities.”
The Farrs said early intervention is a key for many children with disabilities and a parent should trust his or her instincts when seeking a diagnosis.
“Don't overly listen to the doctor,” Tee said.
In February, Tee and Stacy attended an autism conference where Dr. Temple Grandin was speaker. She is the most accomplished and well-known adult with autism in the world.  She didn't talk until she was 3_  years old, communicating her frustration instead by screaming, peeping, and humming. In 1950, she was diagnosed with autism and her parents were told she should be institutionalized. She recounts "groping her way from the far side of darkness" in her book “Emergence: Labeled Autistic,” a book that stunned the world because until its publication, most professionals and parents assumed that an autism diagnosis was virtually a death sentence to achievement or productivity in life.
Tee said the conference was very enlightening.
“What we look at as struggles are normal depending on where you test on the spectrum,” he said. “She talked about different types of intelligence and different gifts.”
Jackson is above IQ in many areas. When Tee took him to a recent checkup, the pediatrician said Tee asked numerous questions about the examination.
“The doctor said, 'He's a thinker,'” Tee said.
Jackson enjoys discussing scientific topics like DNA and one of his dreams right now is to have a lab under his house.
Stacy and Tee said one thing they would like others to understand is the difference between an autistic child's behavior and a normal child's bad behavior.
“Like a tantrum and a meltdown - those are two different things,” Stacy said. “When a child has a tantrum he is looking for your attention - he is looking for your reaction. He has a goal in mind.  Like when a child doesn't get something he wants in the grocery store. They are going to get louder and louder if you aren't paying them any attention. With a meltdown, they can't control it. It's not because they have a goal in mind. It's because something has disturbed them - bright lights, a noise or a sensory issue. Sometimes it is very had to calm them down.”
The Farrs use different strategies to help Jackson overcome a meltdown, including picking him up and holding him, trying to get his mind on something else.
Some parents of autistic children feel judged if their child is having a meltdown in a public place, Stacy said.
“It is important for people to realize people have differences and to be accepting and try to understand those,” she said.
And these differences often come with exceptional talents, Tee said.
“Some of the names that are often thrown out that would have definitely tested on the autism spectrum are Einstein, Mozart, probably Edison, who were late to develop and were socially never there but were brilliant,” Tee said.
The Farrs would like others to understand that those with ASD often have a hard time with figures of speech because they think literally. Jackson will do exactly what he is told to do. Once Stacy told him to “get on the ball,” meaning to hurry up. He became very frustrated wondering what she meant.
“You have to be very specific,” Tee said. “And now that we know that we are way more patient.”
The Farrs noticed early on Jackson did not like loud noises. When Tee would take Jackson riding on his Rhino, Jackson would always get headphones for ear protection. One Saturday morning Stacy was cleaning and had music playing in the living room. Jackson was in his room building with Legos.
“He came in and said, 'Please turn that off. It's making my brain hurt,'” Stacy said.
The Farrs are seeking Applied Behavior Therapy for Jackson. They said they and other parents of special needs children in Union have little access to services like this.
“It is very frustrating for parents in Union,” she said. “People will come from Greenville or Rock Hill and they are not getting travel pay. They come here for two months and say, 'I just can't keep driving here.' Then they have to hire somebody. Since November this is our second therapy company. I have only seen someone one time.”
The Farrs said they are thankful for Jackson's teachers, Kerri Hembree in kindergarten and Jen Roberts who he now has in first grade, for their patience, support and open communication. Jackson plays baseball on the El Poblano team. His coach, Frederick Bates, also is very understanding.
“We want him to grow and experience as much as he can,” Tee said. “That's why we are trying to expose him to as much as we can such as sports and he may be doing music soon.”
The Farrs spend one on one time with each of their three boys. They have taken Jackson to Discovery Center, the State Museum and to Legoland in Florida.
Tee said educators must find ways to find the gifts in all students, but particularly children with special needs.
“His diagnosis has enhanced my perspective as an educator on the services we give students and what they need as individuals,” he said.
Stacy said she and Tee are overwhelmed with all of the information that has been given to us and for all of the support that we have received through family and friends.
“I do not want this to be a secret that we keep, this is a part of who he is and now a part of us,” she said. “Of course, I don't want my child labeled, but autism is now a part of him whether we decided to acknowledge it publicly or not.”
Stacy included this when she spoke in church:
“What does Autism look like? It looks like beautiful brown eyes that sparkle in the light. It looks like a face that lights up with the joy of inventions, trains and Legos. It can also look frightened, nervous and bothered by loud noises. Autism can look like blue eyes, green eyes, brown hair or blonde hair. Autism can look like eyes that never quite meet your gaze or eyes that have learned to make eye contact except when overwhelmed or afraid. Autism can look like flapping and spinning or sitting quietly playing a video game. Have you caught on yet? There is no one look for autism.”
There is no known single cause for ASD, brain scans show differences in the shape and structure of the brain in children with autism compared to neuro typical children, Stacy said. Researchers do not know the exact cause of autism but are investing in a number of theories, including the links among heredity, genetics and the environment.
“Jackson is my son who is comical, caring and thoughtful,” she said. “He loves video games, Legos and television. He enjoys taking trips, making inventions, and eating some of the weirdest combinations of food. Jackson is not the face of autism … but he is one of the many beautiful faces of autism. I am so blessed to be able to take this journey with him; I couldn't have asked for a better pilot.”

Siltzer, son to cut ribbon, lead Relay survivor lap
Jay Siltzer says he misses his wife, the former Kelly McKeown of Union very much, but he takes comfort in knowing she no longer is in pain.
Kelly, the daughter of Walter and Mary McKeown of Union, lost her three-year battle with leukemia on July 13, 2014. She left behind Jay, the morning anchor at WLOS TV in Asheville and a cancer survivor himself, and their son, Malachi, who after her death had to have surgery twice for a malignant brain tumor.
“I can’t say enough about the outpouring of prayers and support we received,” Jay said. “I miss her dearly. She suffered greatly those three years. But I take comfort knowing she is healed.”
Jay and Malachi will cut the ribbon and lead the survivor lap during Union County’s Relay for Life at the Union County Fairgrounds Friday.
“I am looking forward to coming down and being part of this,” Jay said. “Cancer can affect anybody anytime. Any strides we can take to remedy it, we need to take them.  Union County has been incredible to Malachi and me. I am honored to be asked and included in this.”
Torance Inman, who co-directs the Relay with Beth Lancaster, said he hopes a large crowd will turn out and he and Lancaster are thankful to Jay and Malachi for being part of the celebration.
“The honor is all ours,” he said.
The Siltzers are featured in the current issue of People magazine. The article tells about Siltzer’s upbeat attitude as he does the news, despite all that he’s been through.
 He was first diagnosed with testicular cancer in January 1999. He had surgery and radiation and was doing well until the cancer came back and wrapped around his spine.
This time, doctors were less sure of his prognosis. Again, he had surgery and radiation. He also had chemotherapy treatments. Siltzer, who was treated by Lance Armstrong's doctor, was told it might not be possible for him to have children. At that time, he and Kelly were dating. She met him when he went to the dentist and she cleaned his teeth.
Jay and Kelly married in 2000. Five years later they adopted Malachi from Ethiopia. Malachi is now 8 and in second grade. Jay describes him as full of humor and personality.
Malachi was only 3 when Kelly was diagnosed with leukemia.
Jay has written “The Book of Malachi” a collection of Facebook posts from the past five years. The book is available on amazon.com.
“It’s about Malachi and his antics and some of the conversations between him and me,” Jay said. “All profits from the book will go to the organizations that helped Kelly when she was sick. We have already raised more than $5,500 which has been split between the Duke Hospital Patient Assistance Fund and the Patient Assistance Fund at Mills River United Methodist Church (where the Siltzers are members).”
When asked about the incredible fact that all three family members were diagnosed with cancer, Jay told People, "I don’t let myself go there, that would be a dark place. I suppose I could ask, 'Why me?' but the answer is 'Why not?' I'm a person of faith, and I trust good will come from this."

Jo Holcombe left a lasting legacy
Betty Jo Mauldin Holcombe “walked the walk and talked the talk,” according to Debbie Greene, a former student and close friend.
Mrs. Holcombe, who taught English and math at Union High School for 33 years and later co-owned and operated Holcombe Funeral Home, died Sunday at the age of 86.
 “She was my teacher, she was my friend and she was my mother's dear friend,” said Greene. “She was one of the kindest, most sincere persons I have ever known.”
A Converse College graduate, Mrs. Holcombe taught English at Union High from 1951 until the early 1960s when she returned to Converse to obtain a certification to teach math. When she retired in 1986, the high school's yearbook was dedicated to her.
“She was one of the few people I know who was always invited to the high school reunions - she and Grace Lybrand,” Greene said.
Mrs. Holcombe had a lasting impact on Roger Bailey, also.
“She was one of my favorite teachers,” he said. “Even though she taught me English she also taught me how to be successful in life. She was the type of teacher that parents hope their children have.
“The best thing is, she was my friend.”
Mrs. Holcombe and her husband, Billy, were married in 1953. He was the son of Holcombe Funeral Home founders S. Ratchford and Irene Fowler Holcombe. They always treated they families they served with dignity and respect.
“She was the PR person for Holcombe Funeral Home,” said Brown Fant. “She went to every funeral she could and tried to make others feel like they were a part of the family.”
Fant prepared Mrs. Holcombe's taxes.
“She never much cared for the IRS,” he said. “She dreaded it and always put it off as long as she could.”
Fant described Mrs. Holcombe as the “anchor” for the Holcombe family.
“She was always steady,” he said. “She was very sweet to deal with; she was always concerned with everyone else. She was intent on making other people feel better.”
In 1986, Mrs. Holcombe and her husband founded Holcombe Cemeteries, Inc. with the purchase of Union and Jonesville Memorial Gardens and later Forest Lawn Cemetery. She was a member of the South Carolina Funeral Directors Association and the South Carolina Cemetery Association.
After her husband passed away in 1986 Mrs. Holcombe, along with her son, William, and nephew, Tommy Genoble, continued to operate Holcombe Funeral Home Inc.
Mrs. Holcombe was a lifelong member of First Baptist Church in Union where she taught Sunday school and Girls in Action.
“She lived the life of a Christian,” Greene said. “It didn't matter who you were, everyone was of equal value to her. She lived a model life - she never had bad word to say about anybody.”
Funeral services for Mrs. Holcombe will be held Wednesday at 11:30 a.m. at First Baptist Church. Burial will follow at Union Memorial Gardens.

Family celebrates soldier’s return

Myra Heatherly said she did not want anyone to cry at her father's long overdue funeral.
“It's a celebration,” she said. “It's not a sad time.”
It was a celebration because the family of PFC Aubrey Dean Vaughan finally has closure and they finally have him home, Heatherly said. Vaughan was 20 when he died on July 7, 1951, in a POW camp in North Korea. In February, Vaughan's family members were notified that his remains had been positively identified at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (informally known as Punchbowl Cemetery) in Honolulu, Hawaii. He was flown home on April 9. His funeral was held Tuesday on what would have been his 85th birthday.
Friends, family members and veterans groups from near and far packed the Holcombe Funeral Home Chapel where the service was held.  Funeral home employees had to bring in extra chairs. Vaughan's black and gold casket was draped with an American flag and a spray of dozens of red roses was displayed on a rack above it. A picture of Vaughan in his uniform stood on a stand at the head of the coffin. His military medals were displayed in a shadow box.
“I never anticipated this,” said Maxine Vaughan Duckett, one of Dean's sisters. “The military has been unbelievable. After all these years they are still pursuing bringing families together.”
The news that Dean's remains had been found and the planning of his funeral have drawn the family closer, Duckett said.
“We have gained so much family through this,” she said.
Dean's best friend, John Lee “Pie” Ward, another Korean War veteran, sat with the family. Ward recalled that the two volunteered for the Army together. Ward was not initially accepted but was later drafted into service.  He remembered the day Dean left.
“I went to the train station with him,” Ward said.
Ward said it was astounding that Dean's remains had been identified and returned after 65 years.
 “I am glad he is home,” Ward said.
Jantzen Childers, a Vietnam veteran who is chairman of Union County's Veterans Day committee and a Vaughan family friend, read Ecclesiastes: 3:1-8 and sang a medley of hymns that began and ended with “Amazing Grace.”
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens; a time to be born and a time to die,” Childers read.
The Rev. Dr. Aulbrey Calvert, Duckett's pastor and a Vietnam veteran, gave the eulogy. He said it was an honor to be part of a service for a hero who had given his life for his country.
Calvert said Dean's actions showed what kind of person he was. Calvert pointed out that he volunteered for the service knowing his country was at war and he would likely be sent to battle. Calvert used a quote his wife, Judy, found for him when he was preparing his sermon: “A true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him but because he loves what is behind him.”
Some people want to downplay the importance of wars the United States has been involved in since the end of World War II, Calvert said.
“I take issue with that,” he said. “Somebody has to confront the bullies. Somebody has to defend those who can't defend themselves.”
The fact that Dean was promoted to PFC after only a few months in service showed that he had “kept his nose clean and followed orders,” Calvert said.
Dean earned the Combat Infantryman Badge, meaning he was on the front lines in battle, Calvert said.
“He was a prisoner of war,” he said. “He never gave in to the enemy and gave them any information to gain favoritism and gain better treatment. He was the very embodiment of the Army's values - loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage. He even told his family that if he didn't make it back to use the insurance money to build a new home, and they did.”
Calvert said Dean's special friend in POW camp, James R. Hope of Belmont, N.C., took on the duty of burying him and told Dean's family they prayed together while they were prisoners. Calvert said this brings to mind Second Timothy, “I have fought a good fight. I have finished the course. I have kept my faith.”
“Dean fought the good fight,” he said. “He fought for his country. He finished his race - the race God had set before him. He served his purpose. As he and his buddy prayed together only heaven knows the effects of those prayers on fellow prisoners, his captors and on himself and his buddy. God does not give us all an assignment that lasts many years. Some are short but they serve God's own purpose.”
Vaughan's family had long prayed that his remains would be found and he would have a proper burial.
“As of today, that closure is realized,” Calvert said. “But also we are reminded of all the military heroes that have not been found, that have not been identified and our hearts ache for those families.”
The Bible says nothing can separate us from the love of God that He has for us in Jesus.
“Not even a Chinese prison camp,” Calvert said. “When Dean died I believe with all my heart he was carried by the angels into the loving arms of Jesus Christ. I cannot imagine the tremendous contrast he witnessed. He went from suffering at the hands of his captors in a dirty, filthy POW camp - being hungry, tired and scared - into the arms of Jesus and the streets of gold.”
We all one day will die, Calvert said. He urged everyone to place their faith and trust in Jesus Christ as their personal savior.
Lewis Vaughn of Greer, a board member of the National Korean War Veterans Association, presented an American flag to Heatherly on behalf of State Rep. Mike Anthony. Vaughn, who served in the S.C. House and Senate for 20 years, said Tuesday had been declared PFC Aubrey Vaughan Day in South Carolina.
Dean was buried at Rosemont Cemetery in the family plot with his parents and an infant sister. Sheriff's deputies escorted the hearse to the graveside. Along the way people stood on the streets and watched the long processional. Many had a hand over their heart.
At the graveside, members of Rolling Thunder and Patriot Guard Riders stood at attention with American flags. There was a 21-gun salute and Ronnie Lybrand played “Taps” on his trumpet.
Members of Korean War Veterans of Charlotte, many dressed in burgundy jackets, stood together in a group. One was Korean-born Young Chang Ha, a retired United States Navy captain who is chaplain of the group.
“I was 14 years old when the hell started,” he said. “I appreciate the veterans of the war so much.”  

Tyger River Plant celebrates 50 years

In 1966, a new manufacturer began operations in Union County, producing industrial bearings.
Fifty years later, the Timken Co,'s Tyger River Plant is still going strong. This week, the plant will honor its employees, retirees and their families and open its doors for public tours.
“We're thanking the employees and retirees that have been here for 50 years in the community,” plant manager Bob Hart said. “We've been through the good times and the bad times in those 50 years and both the community and our associates have been supportive of both the Timken Company and the Torrington Company when it was the Torrington Company. That is so important for a company to be successful.”
The employees in Union County are among the best he's ever worked with, Hart said.
“I've worked with probably five or six different facilities for Timken and these are just a very adaptable group of people - very hard working - and they do a fantastic job.”
On Friday, the plant will hold an appreciation dinner for employees and present them with shirts, jackets and lunch coolers. There will also be drawings for prizes.
“Everybody will win one prize of something else,” said John Robbins, human resources manager. “We're doing all that we can to make sure they get the recognition they deserve.”
Saturday, the plant will hold an open house from 9-11 a.m., featuring a self-guided tour of the facility that will be open to the public.
“We're keeping it relaxed,” Hart said. “There will be pictures out there, a tour route, displays of products, videos of people working in the area - they can see videos of their brother or sister or father working out in the area.”
Over the past 10 years Timken has invested $40 million in the Tyger River Plant to make it a world class manufacturing facility, featuring state of the art technology, Hart said.
One example of that technology is the plant's dedication to quality.
“If you take a human hair and divide it 35 times - we're holding tolerances tighter than that,” Hart said.
“To ten thousands of an inch - in our world we call it tenths,” Robbins said. “Even a couple of degrees temperature fluctuation in the plant could impact whether it's in spec or out of spec.”
Timken produces bearings up to 84 inches in diameter at the Tyger River Plant, which are used in mining, oil and gas production and wind turbine equipment. It focuses on the North American market, with 74 percent of its products sold in the United States. Thirty five percent of the plant's products go into windmills used to generate electricity.
“It's like manufacturing an aerospace product,” Hart said. “If you have a bearing and it fails up there in one of those big windmills it costs that company and its costs us - because it's our fault - a couple of hundred thousand dollars just to get the bearing down; that's not to fix the problem. The liabilities tied in with that are very, very tight. So the controls and specifications and everything are critical.”
Timken is the only North American bearing supplier for wind turbines without a bearing failure.
Over the past 50 years the products Timken produces at the Tyger River plant haven't changed, but the applications they are used for have, Hart said.
“We still manufacture bearings, but the applications and tolerances they are used for have changed dramatically and they've gotten much, much tighter for the applications today,” he said.  “Timken wants to be a problem solver for our customer; they want to solve friction problems that are out there, which means we typically go after some of the more demanding applications that are out there, not the easy stuff.”
The market for industrial bearings is also much more competitive, Hart said.
“The competition globally is much more intense than it was 50 years ago and because of those innovations in material and technology and processes here in this plant, just in the last three or four years we've had a significant reduction in costs,” he said. “Those are the things that allow this plant to be successful. We're in a very, very good condition to continue to be a valuable part of Timken and a valuable part of this community.”
Many of Timken's employees are actively involved in various organizations and boards in the community and the Timken Family Foundation has invested in many projects over the years, Hart said.
“It's truly making the quality of life better for a lot of people in this community,” Robbins said.

Vietnam still fresh in Blair’s mind

SHARON - When people ask Jim Blair when he was in Vietnam, his mind quickly turns back the clock.
 “The first thought that comes to my mind is 'yesterday,'” he says.  “Once you have been places like that there is hardly a day that goes by that something doesn't happen that takes you back. It might be a song, it might be a sound, and it might be a smell. There are still some songs right now that when they play them, you are back there.”
He remembers Christmas of 1967. There were no Christmas decorations, no Christmas music played on Armed Forces Radio. There was supposed to be a 24-hour ceasefire, which the North Vietnamese took advantage of to reinforce troops.
“The decision had been made that soon after daybreak we were going to violate the truce and try to knock out as many as we could,” he said. “They sent me on a mission to Cambodia and mainly up into Laos getting the latest information. I got back to Saigon Christmas Eve night and went to debriefing. They told me to get a shower and come back. I was staying in an old barracks that had been built by the French. They had a 24-hour snack bar - a luxury in Vietnam. I got me a cheeseburger and a beer. There was a base chapel with a little park beside it - concrete tables and benches. They were having a midnight mass and they were singing carols and songs. Twelve o'clock went off and they started singing 'Silent Night.' I started feeling sorry for myself. This was the first time I started thinking, 'This is Christmas. What are the people back home doing? Do they really understand what is going on over here? In that same compound was the morgue. About on cue when they started singing 'Silent Night' you heard these trucks cranking up. They would always take the dead soldiers back to the flight line at night, when there wouldn't be that many people out. There were five or six tractor-trailers, each with about eight flag-draped coffins on the back, going to the flight line. I was standing there, saluting, and thinking, 'What kind of Christmas are these guys' families having? Here I am sitting here, woe is me, and I am a heck of a lot better off. A lot of these guys are not going back.”
Another time, he was in a helicopter waiting to be dropped out for the first time on a Ho Chi Minh Trail watch.
“Scared was not the word for it,” he said. “They were playing music loud music - Grace Slick. 'Somebody to Love.'  That song, to this day, it's like you are back on that chopper, going in.”
Blair, who served as state council president of Vietnam Veterans of America, received the order of the Silver Crescent from Gov. Jim Hodges for his work in 2002. In his letter to Blair, Hodges said the award was given “not for one single achievement” but for a lifetime of achievements that benefited South Carolina.” It noted the sacrifices Blair made serving in Vietnam and over the six years he served as president of the VVA state council - overseeing the growth of the organization and ensuring that all veterans were kept well informed about issues of interest to them.
Hodges didn't know Blair's story, the reasons for his motivation.  In fact, there were things Blair did not tell his wife, Judy, until they had been married for 20 years.

Lockhart High School graduate
Blair, the son of the late Billy and Minnie Blair, started school in a one-room school at Bullock's Creek. It later closed and the students were transferred to Sharon.  Blair's mother was a nurse at Hope Hospital and she got permission for him to attend Lockhart School. His 16-member class graduated in 1962.
Blair started classes at Clemson, where his older brother, Billy Dodd, was already a student. The family could not afford for both to attend at the same time, so they would take turns - one would attend classes while the other worked that semester. (They also have a younger sister, Patsy Blair Parks).  Blair soon got a notice from Selective Service that he no longer had a student deferment and he needed to report for a pre-induction physical.
“I figured there had to be some other options out there,” he said. “I had been in the Air Force ROTC at Clemson. “
An Air Force recruiter told him to take the admission test, but also advised him there was a three-year waiting list to get in.
Blair took the test and made a perfect score - at that time only six people had done this. He enlisted in February of 1967. He did his basic training at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, and then was sent to intelligence school at Lowry Air Force Base in Denver, Colo.
“I left Texas where it had been over 100 degrees for two or three weeks, got to Denver and the first weekend it snowed on us,” he said.
About a week before graduation Blair and two other airmen were told they had been selected for a special assignment. They would train with other men from other service branches for special service.

Training begins
The first day of training began with instruction from a Navy Seal. Everyone was assigned a name and told that was the only name they were to use. They were also not to address the instructor as “sir” and they were not to salute him, but he let them know in no uncertain terms he was in charge.
“He kind of shocked us that first day,” he said we would be falling out at 0400 for a 10-mile run before breakfast,” Blair said. “We three Air Force guys kind of sat there with a dazed look. The Fly Boys, they called us. He told us they didn't expect us to make it the first day, but they did expect us to be with them by the end of the week.”
Blair was told by the other men in his group that he had been selected for his brains and their job was to protect him.
“I told them to do their job and I would sure as hell try to do mine,” he said. “They had different skills - some were medics, some were good with radios; it was like most special operation teams. You work together. You know a little about all of it but you have experts in some fields.”
The school included lessons from Vietnamese instructors who taught the men about the people, the country and the history.
“We learned a lot about the people, the different ethnic groups,” Blair said. “What it boiled down to was they were teaching us to recognize what part of Southeast Asia someone came from by what they ate, how they ate, how they set camps up.”

Next the group went to Spokane, Wash., for Survive, Evade, Resist and Escape training - SERE.
The scenario was that Blair had been shot down, had a head injury and had been captured.
“They gave us a special version of it,” he said. “They put you in an environment where they capture you. They have villages set up with Orientals in them - even little children. Just like you were in the jungle. The Caucasian-type guys were all dressed up in Soviet uniforms. They did the interrogation, they did a lot of things to you - basically they were trying to show you that you could be broken.”
At one point Blair was strapped in a chair and dumped into a pool of ice water.
“What I didn't know was they had hooked a tether to the back of the char,” he said. “They let me dangle in the water for a while and pulled me back up. Then you go through it a time or two again. Then the 'good guy' shows up and he's raising sand, 'Let this man out of here. Bring him in and give him a cup of hot coffee and a warm robe to put on.' They did all kinds of stuff to you. They put you in a cramped up metal box. They'd beat on it and roll you around and you might end up on your side or on your head.”
“The thing that got to me was the sleep deprivation,” Blair continued. “You start questioning yourself, 'Is this real or not?  They let us observe some of the other classes that came in. If you can control a person's physical space, what he hears, sees and reads, it is just a matter of time before you control their brain.”
The next stop was Clark Air Force Base in the Philippines for three weeks jungle survival training.

Missed flight
Blair was allowed to come home on leave. He then got his orders - Travis Air Force Base in California, Nov. 3, 11 p.m.
But when he arrived at Travis he was told his flight had already left and he was not on the manifest for it.
“The captain came out and asked me where I was supposed to be going,” Blair said. “I told him I did not know for sure; I told him a little about the turning.”
Blair was told to get a room for the night. He spent a little time with Jerry Harris, with whom he had grown up with at Bullock's Creek and who was stationed there.
“That went on for three days,” he said. “They said, 'We can't get any confirmation of where these orders came from or where you are going.'  Finally they said they didn't know where I was supposed to be going but they would put me on the next plane to Vietnam and let them figure it out.”
He never saw the team with whom he had trained again.

Blair arrived at Tan Son Nhut Air Base. Again, no one knew where he was supposed to be. The headquarters for the Seventh Air Force was there. He decided to go there and ask someone.
“A captain came down and asked to see my orders,” Blair said. “He told me to come back the next day.”
The next day Blair was sent to a colonel, who asked about his training.
“He said, 'Airman Blair, I don't know where you are supposed to go but I do know enough to know you don't want to go there. I need you here in my group.' I told him I was supposed to be in Special Operations. He said, 'That is what this is.'
Blair was assigned to DITO - Director of Intelligence Targeting Out country.
 “It was a very small group of about five officers and three enlisted men,” Blair said. “We pretty much directed the air war in North Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. It was an eye-opening experience to say the least.”

Information - or misinformation
During training, Blair and the others had been told their job was to provide timely and accurate intelligence so decision-makers could make decisions.  Intelligence was gathered through road watch teams, photography and from pilots.
“It didn't take too long to realize your mission is to provide information - or misinformation - that supports whatever position your superiors want,” he said.
Every week (Gen. William) Westmoreland and leaders had to be briefed. But before they got to him, there were others who had to hear the information first.
“You would walk in and there would be Westmoreland, there would be all the commanders,” Blair said. “Some were actually staying in Japan and the Philippines and would fly in once a week. I have walked in and they were talking about where they were going to play golf that next weekend. You always gave a positive report. This went on for several months and I got pretty disillusioned about the whole process.”
Blair's captain was getting out of the service and was a friend. Once they put together two briefings - one they knew would fly through and the other that would tell the true story. They opted for the truth. One general was standing there with a cigar in his mouth. It began to go around and around. Another general's face turned red and a blood vein protruded.  The captain told Westmoreland that Blair knew what he was talking about.  Westmoreland began asking questions and said he wished he had more frank briefings.
Blair told the captain he thought they had done well. The captain said he feared they had not heard the last.
They were sent to the office of the red-faced general. He flew into a rage of curse words. The captain told him, “Airman Blair was under my direct orders.”

“Sheep dipped”
The captain was placed over the Vietnamese cooks in the officer's club as his time in service grew to a close. Blair would put on civilian clothes, go in the kitchen entrance and eat - the food was better and often included steaks. One night a lieutenant colonel spotted him. The next day he was in trouble. He was “sheep dipped” - given a uniform with no identification and sent into Laos to fly with forward aircraft control. None of the airplanes had any United States identification on them and included Air America, Continental Air and Byrd and Son who supplied aircraft and pilots for covert operations in Cambodia, Laos and North Vietnam - a CIA operation. This operation was not acknowledged until the 1970s.
“I flew in aircraft that was unmarked,” Blair said. “Some of the best we had were French made. We would fly around the jungle tree top level. You'd take fire and call in the jets to strike. You get familiar with the area and you can tell something is different than before. I didn't make it but 10 days and got shot down - in a Cessna. It was fiberglass and had no armament on it.”
It was his 16th mission. There was no written documentation of any of his orders - all were verbal.
“The pilot got us on the ground someway,” he said. “We flipped and the wings came off. It knocked us both out. He had been hit by fire and was in pretty bad shape. I got him out of the plane and an Air America chopper came in. I handed him to the paramedic; they were getting a lot of fire. They took off.”
The plane was on fire when it went down. It exploded after Blair freed the pilot.
The chopper with the 0-1 pilot got out. Another one coming in to rescue Blair got shot down and exploded, killing all aboard.

Waiting for rescue
Blair waited for what seemed like an eternity.
“I could hear the North Vietnamese talking,” he said. “They could have got me anytime they wanted me but they were going to leave me in there to try and get more helicopters in.”
Another chopper was sent in. Ground fire was so intense, Blair heard over his survival radio the command from the controller to abort the mission, leaving Blair behind. The new chopper pilot ignored the order, and asked Blair if he could catch the moving cable, as they couldn't hover. Despite a wounded leg, Blair made his dash, knowing full well what awaited him if the NVA got hold of him.
“A guy radioed me and said, 'If I get a hook to you, can you get on it?' I said yes. I still don't know how he did it. He was doing a spiral dive and dropped that hook in. I grabbed it and got one leg over the hook - like a big anchor. They commenced to dragging me through the trees and getting me the heck out of there.”
Blair had cuts and scratches and broken collarbone. He was flown to a MASH unit and treated. A nurse asked if he would stay on a few extra days and gave blood to some of the injured.
“If I could have figured out a way to get my pay, I believe I could have stayed over there and no one would have known where I was or what I was doing,” he said.

See and not be seen
Blair received no Purple Heart - not for this incident nor another incident when shrapnel struck him. There was no documentation of the work he was doing.
 During his time in Vietnam Blair was sometimes assigned to trail watch the Ho Chi Minh trail - the main route the North Vietnamese used to bring troops and supplies into South Vietnam.
“Your job was to see and not be seen,” he said. “You had a non-U.S. made pistol, that was the only weapon you had.”
If Blair had been captured, paperwork was in place to explain a reason why he was a “civilian” and not on official duty.
“I wasn't aware of this until a few years ago,” he said.
 He says he doesn't know what the parents of men who were captured or killed were told.
“Intelligence is a need to know thing,” he said. “If you have no need to know, then you don't know.”
Vietnamese troops that had been interrogated said they were able to find Americans because they smelled “sweet.”  
“They always knew even at night that they were getting close to Americans because they could smell us,” he said. “Because of the food we ate, deodorant, toothpaste, bathing. You learn that for two or three days (before going trail watching) you didn't bathe. You didn't wash your clothes. You cleaned your system out. One of the best things I found was nucmong, a sauce they used. You'd get eggs, fish, rice, and spices and put them in a jar and let them ferment. It was a delicacy to them.”
Those on the trail reported in by radio and sometimes called in air strikes if they saw a lucrative target. You were to use our radio only once a day. The North Vietnamese had captured radios. If a man stopped answering his radio, no one went after him. He was gone.
It came over the radio that two men who had been dropped out with Blair had not reported in. Blair relaxed and closed his eyes, listening closely to his surroundings. Something told him not to move, not to even open his eyes. The passage, “Be still and know that I am God,” came to mind.
One North Vietnamese passed on one side of him and another on the other side.
“You would be surprised how much eyeballs show up in the night, in the middle of the jungle with the moon shining,” he said.
Sometimes he had to lie perfectly still with a snake trying to stay warm coiled up next to him.

Bombing restrictions
Blair said despite the amount of bombs dropped in Vietnam there were many restrictions.
“Before the first bomb was dropped there were 93 potential targets chosen,” he said. “When we stopped dropping bombs there were still only about 50 that had been struck. There was a three-mile buffer on the Chinese border. You had buffers around all major cities. You couldn't strike within 100 yards of a known dwelling.  North Vietnam didn't have a big infrastructure. About the only thing we had to strike were lines of communication and transportation. They put people living in the rail yards, in the shipyards, on the bridges. We could fly over their airfields and there could be MIGs on the ground and our pilots could not strike them until they were in the air. You could not strike a SAM site or the anti aircraft fire sites until they turned their radar on and locked on to you. Any new target required basically presidential approval. There was one target in particular - a Catholic church. Big church. They were using it as a staging area. There were trucks backed up to every window. There would be hundreds and hundreds of oil drums, boxes of ammunition, but we were not allowed to strike it because it was a church. “
Blair went to the colonel and explained. The colonel told him he would have to request a form. Every week Blair filled out the form and sent photos, asking for permission to strike. It was finally given.
“The pilot said it looked like a fireworks display when it went up,” Blair said.
Blair later saw a picture of the church in a Time or Newsweek. The Vietnamese had taken peace activists to see the damage. The article said the church was an orphanage and children had been killed.
Because of the rules that were in place, American pilots in North Vietnam were often on death missions.
“Aircraft went in the same time every day, the same routes every day,” Blair said. “They just about knew when to man their anti-aircraft. It was almost like they were sending the pilots on a turkey shoot and they were the turkeys.”
Recommendations Blair made about not having pilots go after targets that were already destroyed were taken to heart by his superiors. Blair earned the Bronze Start in part because of this.

Tour ends
Blair's tour of duty ended in 1968. After flying into Travis Air Force Base he and some other servicemen took a taxi to San Francisco International Airport. In the corner of the bathroom there was a stack of uniforms left behind by soldiers wary of protesters.
Blair spent the rest of his service in England. He said a lot of the men he served with also had been in Vietnam. They didn't talk about it.
He said he thinks he understands why so many who served struggled with psychological problems and drug and alcohol abuse.
“You are on an adrenaline high in some situations,” he said. “It was hard for them to come back and go back to a civilian lifestyle.”
He remembers how alive he felt in the jungle.
“You learn to listen to your body,” he said. “I think over the generations certain senses are lost because you don't need them anymore.”
After Blair was discharged the CIA, the NSA, the FBI and Air Force Intelligence recruited him. He chose to enroll in the University of South Carolina and major in International Studies. After he got his degree he went to work in construction. His job took him to Texas, where he met Judy. His boss had laughingly told him he would be married before he left the state and he was right. They have four children: Angela, Betsy, Jimmy and Catie.
Blair said he would not want to go back again to Vietnam, but he enjoyed his Air Force service as a whole.
“I got to see a lot of the world,” he said. “It was a good experience, I reckon. I would not have met Judy if I hadn't gone.”
Judy said her husband's experiences have given him a different perspective on a lot of things.  He isn't easily rattled.
“He doesn't make snap decisions,” she said.

Soldier’s remains returning home
Sixty-five years after he was taken prisoner and died in a POW camp during the Korean War, PFC Aubrey Dean Vaughan is coming home.
In February, Vaughan's family members were notified that his remains had been positively identified at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (informally known as Punchbowl Cemetery) in Honolulu, Hawaii. His remains will be flown home in April and the family is planning for a funeral service to be held on what would have been his 85th birthday, April 12.
“I was glad I was sitting down when I received the phone call,” said Dean's daughter, Myra Heatherly, who is now 66. “I never would have thought I would have heard that phone call. He is finally coming home to be laid to rest in peace on home ground.”
“I could hardly believe it was happening,” said Maxine Duckett, one of Dean's sisters. “After talking to the young man who buried him we never expected he would come home. I can't express it.”
Aubrey Dean Vaughan was born in 1931, the second of six children of Aubrey and Bertha Henderson Vaughan. He had an older sister, Rita Vaughan Hines, and younger siblings Maxine, James, Joe Earl and Dot (now Dot Grant.)
Maxine said Dean was the typical older brother who looked after and was concerned for his younger siblings.
“He had lots of friends and all of his friends were like brothers to us because they stayed at the house a lot,” she said.
Maxine was 15 when Dean left for basic training. She remembers that she and her future husband, Colon Duckett, had just started dating. Colon was at the movie with friends and Dean introduced himself to him. He wanted to meet the fellow his sister was dating.
Dot, who was 5 when Dean died, has very little memory of him.
“She remembers that Dean and Pie Ward took her to have her picture made,” Maxine said.
Dean volunteered on Oct. 9, 1950, and went to basic training at Camp Pope, La. While in training he came home twice. The first time was to attend the funeral of his grandmother, Mrs. Joe Henderson. He came home again on a 19-day furlough before sailing from California to Korea. Dean was assigned to C Company of the Fifth Infantry Regiment (then reinforced as a Regimental Combat Team.) 25th Infantry Division.
In letters Dean wrote to his family during his service he said he regretted not completing high school and was anxious for his brothers and sisters to finish their schooling.
Dean landed in Korea on March 26, 1951. His last letter to his mother was dated April 18, 1951,
“If anything happens to me take my insurance and buy a home with it,” he wrote.
 On May 27, 1951, his family received a telegraph at their Louise Street home. Dean had gone missing in action on April 23.
“It was a shock,” Maxine said.
In August of 1953 the Vaughans were notified that their son was listed as having died in a North Korean POW camp. At that point, they had not known he was a POW.
When the armistice was signed, prisoners were released and walked back across the 38th Parallel.
“I remember sitting up almost all night long listening to the names of those released, just hoping we would hear his name,” Maxine said. “But of course, we didn't.”
In September of 1953 the Vaughans received a letter from James R. Hope of Belmont, N.C. Hope said he had been held prisoner with Dean and had helped bury Dean after he died. His letter provided answers to some of the questions they had.
“Your son, Aubrey Dean, died in prison camp on July 7, 1951, of dysentery,” Hope wrote. “We were very good friends and often talked about home and what we would do when we got home. I am so sorry that he wasn't as fortunate as I was in getting to come back. There were so many that can't come back. I was just one of the lucky ones that pulled through that awful disease. He was sick for about three months before he died and we promised each other if one of us got out that we would contact the other one's family. I thought Vaughn was one of the finest men that I have ever known and he was a good boy. We often prayed together and hoped that our loved ones at home were praying for us. I know now that the Lord knows best what is for us and what the future holds for each individual in the world. We can't understand His way at times but there is a purpose for everything and everybody.”
Hope said Dean was not wounded when he was captured and he did write letters home from the POW camp.
“He got sick afterward, we all were very sick,” Hope wrote. “The Chinks took all of our personal belongings but some pictures that we had. Vaughan gave me two pictures of his before he died and I promised to return them to his family. It is a picture of his mother and girlfriend.”
Maxine said she, her mother, Rita and Rita's husband, Faye, went to see Hope in Belmont. He told them that the Chinese stripped the dead soldiers of their dog tags and other identification and gave the other American prisoners rolls of cloth to wrap the bodies in. The Americans buried their own dead in the camp cemetery.
“He said they would make crosses and no sooner than they had done that the Chinese would knock them all down,” Maxine said.
Hope told Dean's family he did not think it would be possible for Dean's remains to be recovered.
At Maxine's request in 2001, the Department of the Army sent her a “Loss Incident Summary Sheet” which gave a few details of her brother's capture and death.  It said Dean was captured during a holding action just below the “mid-Korean waist,” where the 5thArmy had dug in.
“Massive Chinese forces had re-gathered from previous attempts to penetrate the valley areas east of Seoul, South Korea, and began anew,” the report said. “This action was fought in the area south of the 'Iron Triangle' which is in the present Demilitarized Zone. The companies of the 5th Infantry were simply overwhelmed by a much larger enemy force but did succeed in withdrawing by stages for several miles, where they again dug in to reorganize. The Chinese captured PFC Vaughan during one of many successive rear-guard actions.”
Maxine and her sister, Rita, both provided a DNA sample that they hoped could be used to help identify Dean's remains if they were ever located.
“We thought we knew it all and that was it,” Maxine said. “We thought all that time his remains were in North Korea in the ground. We didn't have hope. But Myra always had that grain of hope.”
In the meantime, Myra, who was only 2 years old when her father died and has no recollection of him, devoted a lot of time and energy into finding out everything she could about her father and his war service. She spent time on the Internet with a computer savvy best friend, Jan Stalnaker, and wrote her senators and representatives.
Myra found out that through “Operation Glory,” Aug. 31 to Nov. 9, 1954, there had been an exchange of remains between the United States and North Korea. Dean's remains were part of the exchange. His remains were first taken to Japan for identification. His remains were determined “unidentifiable.”  His remains were reburied in the Punchbowl Cemetery.
“All those years his remains were in Hawaii,” Maxine said. “I wish we had known that. That would have been such a relief, to know they weren't just destroyed.”
Maxine and Myra were told the original plans were to bring all remains of unidentified servicemen to the United States to be tested. When the remains were in Japan they were treated with formaldehyde to help preserve them. This destroyed any chances of being able to use a DNA sample to identify them, Myra said.
Dean's remains were re-interred. In May of 2015 he was disinterred and tested again.  Using dental records, an anthropologic study, and a chest X-ray Dean had when he first enlisted, he was positively identified according to a report from the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency. The report said Dean's skeleton is mostly intact, missing only a few fingers and toes. The family wonders if Dean lost them to frostbite in the cold North Korean winter.
Michael Mee, a retired military officer who now works with the agency, contacted Myra and Maxine on Feb. 10 with the news.
Myra said she was at home with her son and daughter-in-law, Tim and Christie Wilburn, and her grandsons, Lee and Josh, when she received the phone call.
Since then the family has been in contact with officials with the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, planning Dean's return home and his funeral.  They plan to meet the remains at the airport, but the date of their arrival is uncertain at this point.
They have been told Dean's remains will be wrapped in an Army blanket. A uniform decorated with his medals will be placed on top of the blanket.
“It is amazing the care and concern that has been shown,” Maxine said. “Those are bones, but they are a person.”
“They are treating him like a hero, which he is,” Myra said.
They tentatively plan to have visitation at Holcombe Funeral Home before the funeral service, which will be held in the funeral home's chapel. Maxine's pastor at Morningside Baptist Church, the Rev. Aulbrey Calvert, and an Army chaplain will participate. Jantzen Childers, a decorated Vietnam War veteran who is chairman of the Union County Veterans Day Committee, will speak, sing and read a Bible verse Myra chose, Ecclesiastes 3:1-8.  Dean will be buried at Rosemont in the family plot with his parents and sister, Alma Fay, who died in 1927 when she was four days old.  The family asks that memorials be made to the Union County Humane Society or the USO of South Carolina.
“We don't want this to be a sad time,” Myra said. “We want it to be a celebration that he is finally home.”
Through the years of uncertainty, Dean's legacy lived on. Myra said she has told her grandsons a lot about her father and they have taken an interest.
Myra's mother, Billie Jean Sprouse Alverson, died in 1991. Myra said she told her about how she and her father met and the fun they used to have.
Maxine said her father honored her brother's request that the family use the insurance for a new home. He bought land on the Sardis Road and built a house.
“My father was never well after Dean went overseas,” Maxine said. “He had his first heart attack when he was in his late 40s, soon after Dean went overseas, and after that he was disabled. He died when he was not quite 55.”
 Aubrey Vaughan died in 1960. Bertha Vaughan died in 1976.  
“Mama was a very self-contained person,” Maxine said. “All those years she suffered quietly. She didn't talk much about Dean but you knew she grieved all those years.”

Former teacher sues school district, Eubanks
A teacher who lost her job after a student broadcast “provocative” pictures from her cell phone has sued the Union County School District and interim superintendent Dr. David Eubanks, saying they breached her employment contract and defamed her character.
Greenville lawyer John “Jack” M. Read IV filed the lawsuit for Leigh Anne Arthur Friday in the Union County Clerk of Court's office.
The lawsuit said that on Feb. 19 Arthur left her classroom to attend to her duty to monitor the hall outside of the shop in which her classroom was situated during the five-minute interval between classes. She left her cell phone in the classroom on her desk.
During that five-minute period, one or more of her students - without her knowledge or permission - accessed her phone, scrolled to her photo application, opened it, scrolled through her photos and found four “provocative” pictures of her.  Arthur had taken the pictures earlier in the week for her husband for Valentine's Day.
The student or students then, using a separate phone, took pictures of the photographs displayed on the screen of Arthur's phone. The phone was then placed back on Arthur's desk.
That same day the student or students published the pictures via social media. The next day Arthur was informed by a concerned student that the pictures had been published.
Arthur discussed with Union County Schools the steps to address the actions of the responsible student or students and then addressed the matter directly with the parents of the students. No one from the school district identified any law, regulation, guideline, policy, procedure or administrative rule Arthur had violated, the suit said.
Several days later, the school district and Eubanks directed that Arthur be removed from class while she was teaching.
“They then instructed her to tender her resignation within one day and had her escorted from the premises by a uniformed police officer,” the suit said.
After composing herself, Arthur sought additional answers directly from the district office, according to the suit. There, she was told that if she failed to tender her resignation as directed she would go before the school board. She was told if the board did not find her culpable of violation, she would still lose her job. If the board found her culpable of a violation, her teaching certificate would be terminated immediately - meaning she would no longer be eligible to teach in South Carolina.
Because of the pressure of these and other inaccurate presentations, Arthur felt forced to resign. The process by which she was forced to resign does not comport with the procedures put forth by the school district or the state, the suit said.
Then, the school district and Eubanks submitted a series of “verbal and written false and defamatory statements” to individuals and to the media for publication about Mrs. Arthur, conveying and insinuating she failed to fulfill her responsibility for the proper supervision and care of her students, she was not in her assigned position at the time of the incident, she allowed students to use her personal cell phone on a regular and routine basis, her phone was routinely left on her desk for student use and was never locked, she used the media to transmit false information, her failure to properly supervise students entrusted in her care will negatively impact the lives of students and their parents, she made false statements, she is “unfit” to continue as a classroom teacher and her actions may have contributed to the delinquency of a minor.
The suit said Union County Schools breached Arthur's employment contract by changing, without consideration, the terms and conditions of her employment, by forcing her to resign, by failing to follow its own procedures and state laws governing teacher employment and dismissal.
Because of this, Arthur has been damaged and is entitled to actual, special, consequential and punitive damages in an amount to be determined by the court and the jury.
One student who accessed the phone, a 16-year-old boy, was arrested on March 4 by the Union Public Safety Department.  He was charged with violating the Computer Crimes Act and Aggravated Voyeurism. He was taken into Department of Juvenile Justice Custody but has since been released. Eubanks said at the time of the arrest that the boy faced possible expulsion from the school district.
The suit said Arthur, who holds both bachelor's and master's degrees, was hired by the school district in 2003. It listed her accomplishments as a teacher in the district, including that from 2012 to 2014 her sixth grade science students achieved the highest PASS Science scores in the district. The Academic Challenge team she coached won first place in the district and she received her Gifted and Talented Endorsement from the state department of education.
It says that in 2014 she was approached by a representative of the schools to build and teach the Mechatronics course. To meet the demands of the course, she spent thousands of dollars of her own money on materials and secured donations of equipment worth thousands of dollars from businesses through face-to-face meetings scheduled on her personal time. She developed post gradation placement options for her students. Over the spring/summer of 2015 she studied independently, paid the required fees and passed the test to receive her industrial electrician certification so that she could continue to teach the Mechatronics class the next year and forward.
Andrea White, a Columbia lawyer who represents the school district, could not be reached for comment Friday.
Arthur said she filed the suit because she wants her dignity back.
“I pursued this lawsuit due to the numerous false accusations made by David Eubanks directed towards me along with the Union County School District and David Eubanks acting as the district representative not following district board of trustee policies and due process required for teacher dismissal,” she said. “I have personally struggled over the past month since my resignation was forced. My passionate nature for my position as Mechatronics teacher at UCCTC, along with dedication, community involvement and support, monetary support from industries, materials from various donors all provided for the successful training of students who would exit the Mechatronics program and hopefully come back to work for a Union County industry.”
Arthur said she felt like she dedicated herself to doing what she needed to do and what was best for her students on a daily basis.
“Whether it was gaining my national certification as industrial electrician or asking plant managers what I could do to help better prepare students in my class for them as a possible future employer,” she said. “I feel as though I've suffered an unexpected death - one which has affected not only me but my family as well. I will continue to hold my head high and fight to see this through. As an outcome, I want my dignity back - plain and simple. I also want to see Union County School District administration from the top down follow proper procedures and policies to support teachers. When this is done the best interest of students will become a priority, which is as it should be.”
She said her heart is “absolutely broken for the students enrolled in Mechatronics courses this year that truly wanted to learn.”
“My message to them is simple: do not let the actions of a few deter you from your goals and aspirations,” she said. “Your words and thoughts are and will always be significant. Stand up and be proud. Push forward and overcome this. While I can't be your teacher I am and will be in your corner.”
Meanwhile, 17,443 people have signed a petition on ipetitions.com asking that Arthur be reinstated in her job.

‘Made in USA’ means jobs for Union County
Four years ago, Marriott International approached Standard Textile with the idea of producing towels and bathmats for its nearly 3,000 U.S. hotels.
The idea became reality in January when Standard Textile began producing “Made in USA” terry products at its Union and Thomaston, Ga., plants.
Last week, Marriott executive chairman Bill Marriott and company representatives visited Standard Textiles' Union plant to see where the bath towels, hand towels and bath mats are made, using 100 percent cotton fiber grown in the U.S.
Marriott's commitment to buy “Made in USA” products creates 150 jobs in Standard Textiles' facilities in Union and Thomaston, as well as the company's Cincinnati headquarters. Standard Textiles expects to create 65 of those jobs in Union.
“We believe our guests will appreciate knowing that even simple items they use every day in our hotels represent progress in the U.S. economy,” Marriott said. “We also hope this sends a message to other businesses that buying locally can make business sense.”
The material for the towels and bath mats arrives at Standard Textile in large rolls. After being bleached, washed and dried it is cut, sown, folded and boxed for shipment. The products arrive at Marriott hotels ready to be placed on the shelf.
The “Made in USA” commitment will mean the annual production of 2.6 million bath towels and 4.9 million hand towels - the equivalent of as much as 5.6 million pounds of textiles. If laid end-to-end, the textiles Marriott will purchase in one year would stretch more than 4,300 miles. The commitment to manufacture these products in the U.S. also reduces greenhouse gas emissions by eliminating more than 300 ocean-going container shipments annually.
“Marriott's desire to provide guests with terry bath products made by U.S. textile artisans speaks to the heart of why Standard Textile is thriving and creating new jobs after 76 years,” said Gary Heiman, president and CEO. “Our commitment to technology driven manufacturing and innovation has enabled us to expand our operations in the U.S., creating a sustainable infrastructure for Marriott's 'Made in USA' products.”
Company officials said last week that as a result of the “Made in USA” program, Standard Textile would probably expand its operations in Union.

T&L Diner a local landmark
(Editor's note: This week we continue our series on Women Entrepreneurs. If you know a woman who owns a business that you would like to see featured, please call the Union County News at 427-1090.)

JONESVILLE - Sisters Lucille Johnson and Teresa Wright opened the T&L Diner on Dec. 7, 1987, the day of the Jonesville Christmas Parade.
Lucille decided she wanted to go to the parade and left Teresa there to run the restaurant by herself.
Teresa was overwhelmed by the diners wanting to try the short orders and meat and vegetable plates.
“They ate everything we had,” Teresa said.
“They swamped her,” said Teresa's great-niece, Hanna Wade, a longtime employee. “And from that day forward it hasn't stopped.”
Sometimes it's hard to find a parking place at the restaurant, which was converted from a house on 501 South Main St., Jonesville. Many of the diners have been customers since the restaurant opened.
“Most of the time when people walk in we know what they are going to eat,” said Hannah, 25, who started working at the restaurant when she was 12, washing dishes. “There is one man, Boo Berry, that when he walks in I fix his plate and he lays his money down and keeps going. (Boo's plate is chicken, rice and gravy, corn, a roll and tea.)
The restaurant has been remodeled and enlarged since it opened. The menu has not changed a lot and most of the recipes are from Teresa and Lucille's mother, Emma Mae O'Dell. They call her the best cook in the world.
“We have kept our same recipes from the day it opened,” Hannah said. “Banana pudding homemade just like it was 28 years ago - with egg whites, sugar, flour and canned milk and you stir it for an hour - you don't walk away from it. Simple home-cooked meals - that is the way it started and the way it has kept on. We have fresh hamburger meat - it comes in from Union Packing every morning. Homemade chili. We don't even pre-cook fries - we don't cook fries until you order them. Everything is cooked by orders except for the dinners that are cooked that morning.”
One newer item that has been a big hit with customers is the T&L's wings.
“We sell a lot of wings,” Hanna said.
The standard menu items have included hamburgers, hot dogs, hamburger steaks and chicken strips with a different dinner every day.
Teresa said she appreciates their loyal customers. The restaurant literally at times stops the train -Norfolk Southern workers pause the train near the restaurant if time allows for a meal.
She also appreciates their loyal employees. Lucille's daughter, Tolya - Hanna's mother - worked at the restaurant from the time she was a teen-ager until she was in her early 40s and moved to pursue other career opportunities. Renee Knox has been working there 25 years. Marsha Sprouse and Susan Bradburn also have worked on and off at the restaurant through much of its existence. Lucille retired in November of 2014.
“I've enjoyed it,” Teresa said. “I've always had real good customers and never had a lot of complaints. We have done well. I enjoyed it. Lucille enjoyed it.”
Teresa said she has no plans to retire. Hanna said no matter what she and her mother and her uncle, Todd Johnson, who also works at the restaurant occasionally, want to keep the restaurant in the family.
“We just want to keep it the same,” Hanna said.

Auctioneering was a way of life for Cathcart, family
BUFFALO - Family members say being an auctioneer was more than just a profession for Col. Carol Cathcart - it was a passion and an enjoyable way of life that often got them all involved.
“He was a hard worker,” said Cathcart's son, Mark. “It seemed like we were either hauling cows, baling hay or doing auctions. He knew everybody. I learned a lot of good lessons. I was fortunate to grow up having him.”
Cathcart, 74, passed away on Dec. 19, 2015. He worked as an auctioneer for 44 years and for most of those years conducted foreclosure auctions for Union County. He operated an auction house at various locations in the county during his career with the last location at the present site on the family farm on Buffalo Creek Ranch Road.
Cathcart was born in Buffalo, one of four children of the late Herbert and Marie Cathcart. His sisters, Sybil Ponder and Cora Lee Snyder, live in Buffalo. His brother, Frank, passed away in 2014.
He and his wife Judy, the former Judy Billings, grew up together in Buffalo. Judy was friends with Cora Lee and often went home with her but Judy said she did not take an immediate romantic interest in Carol.
“Then I started looking at him and I liked what I saw and how nice he was,” she said.
After the couple was married in 1968, Cathcart became interested in auctioneering.
“I had been to auctions before we got married and he grew up going to cow auctions,” Judy said. “Col. (Vernon) Anderson was a big influence in him going to school. He told him to pursue his dreams.”
Cathcart studied a course from Nashville Auction House for over a year, attended school for two weeks and graduated in 1971. Judy said she was proud of the fact that her husband was among the original group who helped develop South Carolina Auctioneer Licensing Law, which required many trips to Columbia for meetings in the late 1970s.
When Joe McMillian retired Cathcart applied to be foreclosure auctioneer. He was approved by the legislative delegation in 1973. He performed his last foreclosure auction in December. His daughter-in-law, Celeste Cathcart - Mark's wife - now has the job. Celeste grew up on a farm in Andrews and enjoyed attending farm equipment sales with her father and grandfather.
From the time they were very small Mark and his sister, Carla Cathcart Champion, began spending their weekends at auctions.
“You grew up in front of people,” Mark said. “You knew people from the auctions. You learned how to get up in front of people and you learned how to work. It was different. A lot of Friday nights you were working instead of playing. There were a lot of Saturdays spent all day doing auctions. You learn how to do business.”
“But we all loved it,” Judy added.
The Cathcarts often told Mark and Carla they would send them to auction school if they were interested. Mark now is planning to get his license. Celeste became licensed several years ago.
Over the years Cathcart conducted countless estate sales, farm equipment sales and other auctions.  Judy said he often told her to keep the auction house going if something happened him - “Keep it going; that's my legacy.”
“Carol told everybody we would be back on Jan. 12, after the holidays and after his surgery,” Judy said. “So we did.”
The auction house is open every Friday night at 7:30 p.m. On the second and fourth Saturday of each month a small animal auction is held.
“We sell everything from A to J,” Judy said. “Antiques to Junk. Anything that is legal.”
The Cathcarts said they have enjoyed watching the interesting items that came through the auctions over the years, including items with historical value. Judy recalls one auction at a storage facility where her husband knew there was an item she would not want to encounter - a can of cremated remains - which the owner wanted back and did not want auctioned. As Judy took inventory, Cathcart did not tell her they were there.
“It must have been the second or third night I worked,” she said. “I picked it up and said, 'You know, this is interesting. Here is a can of vegetables and it doesn't have a label on it. I shook it and said, 'Must be dried up.'”
Mark said a New York antiques dealer often brought items for special auctions. One weekend he brought a full-sized horse-drawn sleigh.
“It still had snow in it,” Mark said. “We sold it that night full of New York snow.”
Judy said life has been interesting in an auctioneer family.
“I've loved every minute of it,” she said. “It's been a lot of hard work, hot work.”
Mark jokes that he was close to adulthood before he realized any household furnishings other than appliances could be purchased new - most of the furniture in his parents' home is antique.
The people are what make auctioneering fun, Mark said.
“Really and truly, it's the people,” he said. “You make lifelong friendships. You get to meet people from other places. It's a common interest that brings people together. Most of them get into a routine - that is what they do on Friday night. It's their Friday night entertainment.”
Carla Cathcart Champion said her father is missed.
“My dad was a very gentle man - he cared about everyone,” she said. “He always supported us in each way. He was so proud of his children and grandchildren and great -grandson. He was a man of his word and my backbone. He was also proud of the bakery that my daughter and I opened. He would eat with us  on Sundays and while my mom helped us he loved to sit and talk to everyone. He was also the best auctioneer in the world. No one will ever take his place. I loved working the auctions when I could with him. He is greatly missed and I think of him daily and any time we try something new we always say, "what would papa think about this" we appreciate all the love and support that everyone showed us and keep showing us. He was a great man and we all love him dearly.”

Trustees take legal action over letter
The Union County Board of School Trustees has filed a summons designed to uncover the identity of a letter writer who called himself “The Good Guy.”
The letter, which the school board asserts in the summons was false, malicious and defaming, was sent by email to 25 recipients, including members of the school board around Oct. 12, 2015. It alleged a series of unethical and illegal actions taken by members of the school board.
The summons, filed on Jan. 21 in the Union County Clerk of Court's office on behalf of the school board by Mt. Pleasant lawyer Steven Abrams, names the school board as plaintiffs and “John Doe” as the defendant.
The summons said John Doe used “spoofing” - the practice of disguising an email to make the email appear to come from an address or individual from which it actually did not originate.
One means of spoofing involves placing in the “From” or “Reply to” lines in emails an email address other than the actual sender's address without the consent or authorization of the user of the email address whose address is spoofed. Spoofing can also be accomplished by setting up unauthorized email accounts under the name of an individual that will fraudulently be seen as the originator of the emails and/or choosing email addresses that are so similar to the actual email address used by the apparent originator of the email so as to create the impression that the emails came from that individual.
Abrams said this legal action is necessary to force the Internet service provider to reveal the name of the person who holds the email account.
“It provides the vehicle to send the subpoena to identify the sender of the email,” he said.
The letter was sent to school board members, various elected officials, South Carolina Department of Education employees and various members of the news media, the summons said. The anonymous email was purportedly sent by “UnionCountyStudents1st” a handle for a gmail account, studentsfirstucs@gmail.com. This use of a fictitious name associated with the emails is an example of email spoofing and was employed to protect John Doe's identity, the summons states. Key to the defamation alleged was an attachment entitled, “Union County Schools Corruption.pdf,” which contained a nine-page letter and a six-page addendum. The letter alleges a conspiracy between the board members and others in the education community to “seek vengeance” against the then-superintendent Dr. Kristi Woodall and her supporters. “The Good Guy” also alleged that trustees and others have communicated
improperly and developed a plan to take out Woodall and in so doing violated the community trust. Woodall resigned at the end of 2015 to pursue other career opportunities. She is now assistant principal of the 9th grade campus at Boiling Springs High School.
The letter alleged a scheme by certain board members hostile to Woodall to remove two board members said to be closest to the superintendent by falsely accusing the two of an ethics violation involving nepotism. The letter alleged that one board member “violated several laws and code of conduct for elected officials in South Carolina by checking with athletic faculty and staff regarding the health status of a particular student athlete.
“Some of the letter's most libelous accusations are directed towards board member Mike Massey, who is accused of illegally obstructing and recruiting others to assist in obstructing an ongoing SLED investigation,” the suit said.
The letter was published with actual or implied malice, was false and specifically identified some board members by name in defamatory statements, the summons said. It asks the court to grant an injunction from the continuing publication of the defamatory materials and award special, presumed and punitive damages for John Doe's intentional and reckless publication of defamatory material, plus court costs.
Trustees voted 7-1 in November to approve a motion by Manning Jeter for their board's lawyers to investigate the e-mailed letter, signed by “The Good Guy,” and try to determine where it originated. Trustee Jane Wilkes voted no.
“About 70 percent of this letter, I believe, came out of executive session,” Jeter said after the vote. “It's a violation of everybody's rights in this room.”

Step back in time during a visit to Roche Pharmacy
WHITMIRE - John Roche Jr. calls out from behind his computer, “I hear y'all going to have another grandbaby.”
“Yes, a little boy,” said Dorothy Nobles of Whitmire.
A few minutes later, Roche talks with a customer on the phone: “If you quit smoking those cigarettes, you'd do a lot better.”
While filling prescriptions at a frantic pace, Roche stops and motions toward Gail Vanlue of Whitmire, telling other customers, “You've never seen anyone hit a softball like her and her mom made the best hotdogs and chili in the world.”
The late John Roche Sr. founded Roche Pharmacy in April of 1966 and his son continues to fill prescriptions 50 years later.
“I started working at the soda fountain when I was 11 years old,” said Roche. “I've been here 45 years. I grew up with and saw what my dad did to help people and decided that's what I wanted to do. I just wanted to help people and I can't think of a better way to do it.”
Roche Sr.'s life was all about service with the pharmacy and more than 50 years work on the local school board.
“I don't know how he did it,” his son said. “Daddy had six kids. He worked 60 to 70 hours a week, every week. He had a heart of gold. I still hear stories about him opening up the store at 2 or 3 o'clock in the morning for a sick baby.
“I'll do the same thing.”
Behind every good man stands a great woman. The late Louise Roche was a big part of the pharmacy for years. The store used to have colognes, gifts and Hallmark cards.
“I had a great mother and father,” said Roche. “I miss them bad. You've just got to keep carrying on.”
Roche and his five sisters worked at the pharmacy, behind the counter at the soda fountain. They never got paid or so they thought.
“We thought Daddy was being mean,” he said. “Turns out he was paying us the whole time and putting the money in a bank account. He knew what he was doing; we would have blown that money.”
Roche Pharmacy is still a family affair. Roche's wife, Kay, keeps the books, but spends most of her time with three grandchildren. Two techs, Lisa Putnam and Julie Johnson, fill prescriptions. Leon Taylor and Jo Ellen Lampros provide customer service.
Roche has three children and his son, Blake, is at pharmacy school and plans on returning to help out after graduation.
The store hasn't changed much and still has the soda fountain - one of the few left in the country. About 15 years ago, Roche considered taking it out during a remodel.
“They came to me marching with torches and pitchforks to keep it open and that's about the truth,” he said. “When someone that's moved off comes back to town they want to relieve their childhood memories. A lot of them want a cherry Sprite. A lot of them want a milkshake.”
The Roche kids and youth from the high school have run the fountain through the years. Children used to meet at the store to read comic books. Today, children still come and their height is measured on a pole.
“I've got to watch several generations grow up here and it has been real fulfilling to me,” said Roche.
Roche Pharmacy is a step back in time, different than today's chain pharmacies.
 “John's my classmate,” said Danny Joe Rice of Whitmire. “These are my friends. This (pharmacy) means a lot to our town.”
Even those from out of town make the drive.
“I like the service,” said Billy Phillips of Union. “They treat you like family.”
The Roche family has kept the pharmacy open, even as other businesses have moved away.
“When we opened, Whitmire was a boom town, through the '50s and '60s, because of the textile industry,” said Roche. “Over my years, I've watched all that go away. It's been tough on people, but we've survived. We've got some great people here.”
The town has a charm you won't find in a big city.
“You don't see many towns like this anymore,” said Roche. “We don't have a McDonald's, a Hardees or a Wal-Mart. The National Forest has protected us from a lot of that. Some people think that is bad, but I think it's good. You can go to any town in the United States and they all look alike. They've all got the same restaurants, malls, Wal-Marts and whatever. You don't find places like this anymore.
“People say there is nothing to do here. Well there is plenty to do here, but it's the good things, not the bad things.”
The pharmacy has a charm you won't find in a chain store.
“We're a dying breed, but it's different from the chains,” said Roche. “That's a corporate world. We're more concerned with people than money.”
Roche looks to keep the pharmacy open to serve Whitmire for generations to come.
“We've made our mark on this town,” said Roche. “Between daddy and me, it's getting close to 70 years of serving people. I don't ever plan on quitting. I'm not going to retire; I'm going to expire.
“We have a good time up here.”

Woodall received a year’s salary, benefits
Former Superintendent Dr. Kristi Woodall received a lump sum payment of one year's salary and benefits as part of her settlement agreement with the Union County School District.
Woodall resigned as superintendent, effective Jan. 1 of this year. She signed the agreement on Dec. 14, 2015.
The Union County News obtained a copy of the agreement last week as the result of a Freedom of Information Act request to Andrea White, the attorney for the Union County Board of School Trustees.
The lump sum payment to Woodall also includes a travel allowance, retirement contributions, the value of her insurance premiums paid by the school district and the value of five of her unused vacation days. Her base annual salary was nearly $130,000.
In the event that Woodall does not find another job on or before Jan. 1, 2017, the school district has agreed to make additional monthly payments, each of which are equal to one-twelfth of her base salary as of her resignation or an amount that represents the difference between her base salary in her now job as of Jan. 1, 2017, and her base salary on the date of her resignation, whichever is less. Those payments would continue for six months or until Woodall finds comparable employment, whichever comes first.
As part of the agreement, both Woodall and the school board agree not to make “disparaging statements concerning each other” to others or to any entity. If either side violates this provision they are subject to a $15,000 penalty.
Woodall's departure came two months after her annual evaluation. Following the board's Oct.12 meeting, Dr. Wanda All, who was then board chair, said Woodall had met her goals during the 2014-15 school year and received a satisfactory evaluation from the board.
The next week, trustees met in executive session for nearly two hours with White to receive legal advice concerning Woodall's evaluation.
They met with White behind closed doors again in November to continue discussions concerning Woodall's evaluation and contract talks.
Dr. David Eubanks was hired as interim superintendent in December. He will serve through the end of the school year or until a permanent superintendent is hired.

Trustees to vote on Taneyhill contract
Steve Taneyhill's future as head football coach at Union County School may be decided tonight.
Eight personnel issues are listed on the agenda under “executive session” when Union County school trustees meet at 7 p.m. at Lockhart School. One of them will be Taneyhill's contract, interim Superintendent Dr. David Eubanks confirmed Friday.
“The board could come out of executive session and do nothing or come out and vote to extend his contract,” he said.
Taneyhill's contract was extended until the end of January at the direction of the school district's administration “pending final resolution,” according to personnel director Jeff Stribble. This took place during the board's Dec. 14 meeting and Taneyhill was notified the next day, Stribble said.
The school district made no announcement concerning Taneyhill's contract extension. Stribble was asked on Dec. 15 about Taneyhill's status with the school district after Dec. 31. “Coach Steve Taneyhill is an active employee and continues to serve as head football coach at Union County High School,” he said.
Taneyhill's record at Union County High is 22-27 in four seasons. His only winning season came in 2012 when he took the Yellow Jackets to the 3A state championship game. The team failed to make the playoffs the next two years, finishing with a losing record each season. Last season the team finished 7-7, advancing to the upperstate title game.
Trustees voted 5-4 last February to renew Taneyhill's contract through Dec. 31, at which time they would evaluate his performance and decide whether to renew it again. The last item on their agenda for the Dec. 14 meeting was personnel, with the administration's recommendation of “action needed,” but the board adjourned without discussing it in open session.
Instead, board chairman Jane Hammett announced that Dr. Kristi Woodall was leaving her job as superintendent “to pursue other opportunities.”

Former UCHS principal sues district
Lawsuit claims Woodall used hidden camera to spy on Lyles
Former Union County High School principal Floyd Lyles Jr. is suing the school district and former superintendent Dr. Kristi Woodall because he says his privacy was violated and his contract was not honored.
Attorneys for the Gist Law Firm in Columbia filed the suit in the Union County Clerk of Court's Office on Dec. 29, 2015, on behalf of Lyles.  Lyles and assistant principal Jenelle Gilliam resigned on March 12, 2015. The district gave no reasons for the resignations.  At the time of the resignations Woodall released a statement saying those wanting to know the reason for the resignations should ask Lyles and Gilliam themselves - they were free to discuss it.
Woodall resigned at the end of the calendar year to pursue other opportunities.
According to Lyles' lawsuit, he is requesting a jury trial. He is seeking compensatory damages, back pay, front pay, travel hardships and travel expenses, future earnings with cost of living adjustments, prejudgment interest, fringe benefits, retirement benefits, punitive damages with respect to his claim that Woodall invaded his privacy and court costs.
The suit says Lyles went to work for the district in 1998 as a math teacher at Excelsior Middle School. In 2004 he was asked by district administrators to interview for the assistant principal position at Union High School. The suit alleges that throughout his employment Lyles was “recognized for his excellence in the performance of his job duties as he was consistently awarded promotions.”
Lyles worked as assistant principal at Union County High, principal of Jonesville Elementary, principal of Jonesville Middle School and in 2012 was selected as principal at Union County High School. He “consistently performed his job duties competently and adhered to defendant's policies and procedures.” During his time at Union County High the school saw consistent improvements in the quality of education and had the highest graduation rates in the history of the school. Under Lyles' leadership, the school went from an “F” on the state school report card to a “C”, the suit states.
“Plaintiff took a poor performing school and began to see significant improvements in classroom scores and staff morale,” the suit said. Because of this, he asked during the 2013-14 school year that his salary be raised. Woodall denied the request, exhibited negative reactions to the request and “showed outright animus” towards Lyles, telling him he should be satisfied with the raise he got at the time of his 2012 promotion, the suit said.  Lyles, on information and belief, realized that other principals and administrators had not been treated in a like manner. He again requested a raise and was rebuffed and denied with no explanation.
During the 2014-15 school year Union County High had 1,170 students and 106 staff members, making it the largest school in the district. As the largest, Union High historically had three or more assistant principals assigned to the administrative team. The suit alleges that in direct retaliation for Lyles having questioned the administration and superintendent's practices and for his under payment by Woodall on his job, she moved one of the assistant principals to the Career Center, “leaving plaintiff understaffed with just two assistant principals.”
Throughout the 2014-15 school year the suit says Lyles spoke with Woodall regarding the need for another assistant principal to assist with successfully managing the student population but she refused to hire another assistant. Lyles was “the only principal in South Carolina with a population of 1,170 students or greater with only two assistant principals,” the suit said. He believes Woodall and “other political forces were trying to frustrate him into leaving.” He later learned that the person selected for the assistant principal's position at the Career Center, Michelle James, “was a personal friend to Dr. Woodall and one of the nine teachers he was previously forced to hire by Dr. Woodall,” the suit said.
The school district and Woodall, in an effort to force Lyles out of the district, illegally reduced his salary by $800 per year during his last two years with the district, the suit said. Lyles questioned Woodall about the cut and was told it was relat
Former UCHS principal sues district
Lawsuit claims Woodall used hidden camera to spy on Lyles
Former Union County High School principal Floyd Lyles Jr. is suing the school district and former superintendent Dr. Kristi Woodall because he says his privacy was violated and his contract was not honored.
Attorneys for the Gist Law Firm in Columbia filed the suit in the Union County Clerk of Court's Office on Dec. 29, 2015, on behalf of Lyles.  Lyles and assistant principal Jenelle Gilliam resigned on March 12, 2015. The district gave no reasons for the resignations.  At the time of the resignations Woodall released a statement saying those wanting to know the reason for the resignations should ask Lyles and Gilliam themselves - they were free to discuss it.
Woodall resigned at the end of the calendar year to pursue other opportunities.
According to Lyles' lawsuit, he is requesting a jury trial. He is seeking compensatory damages, back pay, front pay, travel hardships and travel expenses, future earnings with cost of living adjustments, prejudgment interest, fringe benefits, retirement benefits, punitive damages with respect to his claim that Woodall invaded his privacy and court costs.
The suit says Lyles went to work for the district in 1998 as a math teacher at Excelsior Middle School. In 2004 he was asked by district administrators to interview for the assistant principal position at Union High School. The suit alleges that throughout his employment Lyles was “recognized for his excellence in the performance of his job duties as he was consistently awarded promotions.”
Lyles worked as assistant principal at Union County High, principal of Jonesville Elementary, principal of Jonesville Middle School and in 2012 was selected as principal at Union County High School. He “consistently performed his job duties competently and adhered to defendant's policies and procedures.” During his time at Union County High the school saw consistent improvements in the quality of education and had the highest graduation rates in the history of the school. Under Lyles' leadership, the school went from an “F” on the state school report card to a “C”, the suit states.
“Plaintiff took a poor performing school and began to see significant improvements in classroom scores and staff morale,” the suit said. Because of this, he asked during the 2013-14 school year that his salary be raised. Woodall denied the request, exhibited negative reactions to the request and “showed outright animus” towards Lyles, telling him he should be satisfied with the raise he got at the time of his 2012 promotion, the suit said.  Lyles, on information and belief, realized that other principals and administrators had not been treated in a like manner. He again requested a raise and was rebuffed and denied with no explanation.
During the 2014-15 school year Union County High had 1,170 students and 106 staff members, making it the largest school in the district. As the largest, Union High historically had three or more assistant principals assigned to the administrative team. The suit alleges that in direct retaliation for Lyles having questioned the administration and superintendent's practices and for his under payment by Woodall on his job, she moved one of the assistant principals to the Career Center, “leaving plaintiff understaffed with just two assistant principals.”
Throughout the 2014-15 school year the suit says Lyles spoke with Woodall regarding the need for another assistant principal to assist with successfully managing the student population but she refused to hire another assistant. Lyles was “the only principal in South Carolina with a population of 1,170 students or greater with only two assistant principals,” the suit said. He believes Woodall and “other political forces were trying to frustrate him into leaving.” He later learned that the person selected for the assistant principal's position at the Career Center, Michelle James, “was a personal friend to Dr. Woodall and one of the nine teachers he was previously forced to hire by Dr. Woodall,” the suit said.
The school district and Woodall, in an effort to force Lyles out of the district, illegally reduced his salary by $800 per year during his last two years with the district, the suit said. Lyles questioned Woodall about the cut and was told it was related to the increase in the cost of health insurance. The suit said that according to Lyles' information and belief, none of the other 240-day administrators in the district were subjected to the salary reduction and in fact other administrators in the district received pay increases.
During the 2014-15 school year Woodall “created an expectation of privacy for plaintiff in his office space as she knowingly allowed plaintiff to change clothes in his office following his morning and evening workouts.”
On March 10, 2015, after “months of harassment” by the defendants, Lyles was confronted by Woodall and informed that a “hidden camera” had been placed in his office and he had been “caught” on tape for improper behavior.
On March 11, 2015 Lyles alleges that he met with Woodall and was told he was being given the option to resign or be investigated for improper behavior.
“Plaintiff knew that he had done nothing improper during the performance of his job on tape or off tape and that Dr. Woodall had been spying on him and invading his privacy while he changed clothes in his office which caused plaintiff a great deal of embarrassment, mental anguish and humiliation,” the suit said. “Plaintiff felt he had no option other than to resign.”
As a result of being forced to resign, Lyles has suffered lost wages, the loss of his job, mental anguish, emotional and physical distress, trouble sleeping and anxiety.”
The suit alleges that the Union County School District committed breach of contract, breach of contract with fraudulent intent and violated public policy. The suit alleges that Woodall invaded his privacy.
School district attorney Andrea White said the district office is closed for the holidays and had not been served with the lawsuit. She said she had obtained a copy of the lawsuit from the clerk of court’s office and had reviewed it.
“At this point it would be premature for me to make a comment since we have not been served and I have not had a chance to talk with the district,” she said.ed to the increase in the cost of health insurance. The suit said that according to Lyles' information and belief, none of the other 240-day administrators in the district were subjected to the salary reduction and in fact other administrators in the district received pay increases.
During the 2014-15 school year Woodall “created an expectation of privacy for plaintiff in his office space as she knowingly allowed plaintiff to change clothes in his office following his morning and evening workouts.”
On March 10, 2015, after “months of harassment” by the defendants, Lyles was confronted by Woodall and informed that a “hidden camera” had been placed in his office and he had been “caught” on tape for improper behavior.
On March 11, 2015 Lyles alleges that he met with Woodall and was told he was being given the option to resign or be investigated for improper behavior.
“Plaintiff knew that he had done nothing improper during the performance of his job on tape or off tape and that Dr. Woodall had been spying on him and invading his privacy while he changed clothes in his office which caused plaintiff a great deal of embarrassment, mental anguish and humiliation,” the suit said. “Plaintiff felt he had no option other than to resign.”
As a result of being forced to resign, Lyles has suffered lost wages, the loss of his job, mental anguish, emotional and physical distress, trouble sleeping and anxiety.”
The suit alleges that the Union County School District committed breach of contract, breach of contract with fraudulent intent and violated public policy. The suit alleges that Woodall invaded his privacy.
School district attorney Andrea White said the district office is closed for the holidays and had not been served with the lawsuit. She said she had obtained a copy of the lawsuit from the clerk of court’s office and had reviewed it.
“At this point it would be premature for me to make a comment since we have not been served and I have not had a chance to talk with the district,” she said.



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