Albert J. Thackston, 1869-1953: A.J. “Cap” Thackston was the legendary superintendent for the Orangeburg public schools for forty nine years. He literally touched the lives of thousands of students, preparing them for the future. “Cap” Thackston was born in 1869 in Laurens County to Elijah R. and Anna B. Thackston. He attended the Anderson schools and Reidville Academy. After his graduation from Furman University, he began his education career in Springfield, South Carolina and then at the Orangeburg Collegiate Institute. In 1897 he became the superintendent for the Orangeburg City Schools. At that time the public schools consisted of ten grades, and all 300 students were housed in one building on Sellers Avenue. There were only nine teachers, and he as superintendent had to teach both the ninth and tenth grades himself. As Orangeburg’s population grew, a new “graded school” was built on Ellis Avenue. The only athletics in the early days were calisthenics and games at recess. By the time Dr. Thackston retired in 1946 after forty-nine years at the helm as Orangeburg’s superintendent, several new facilities had been built to accommodate the growing student population. Athletics, school buses, and school lunchrooms were all introduced during his tenure. Dr. Thackston did graduate work at the University of Wisconsin, the University of Southern California, and received a doctorate from Erskine College. He was a member of the South Carolina State Board of Education for a number of years. For his endeavors he received the Distinguished Public Service Award from the South Carolina American Legion. Dr. Thackston was a member of the Rotary Club and a past master of the Shibboleth Lodge Ancient and Free Masons. For many years he served on the board of trustees for Presbyterian College. Locally he was a longtime elder at the First Presbyterian Church.

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