J.C. Pace has had his hand in a lot of things throughout 92 years of life, but each endeavor has come with an impassioned fervor for community service.
A past president and chaplain of the South Carolina Troopers Association, Pace spent 42 years with the S.C. Highway Patrol. Still widely known as “Captain Pace,” he served as longtime captain of District 7, which includes Orangeburg, Calhoun, Bamberg, Hampton, Allendale, Barnwell and Aiken counties.
While illness has now rendered him unable to work, Pace learned from an early age as a paper boy and salesman that hard, honest work pays off.
Pace continued to work the bank detail and other customer service-related work at Superior Motors well after he had turned 90 years old.
His commitment to community service also stretches to affiliations with the Kiwanis Club, where he is past president; the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the Orangeburg Touchdown Club.
A long-serving deacon and elder at First Presbyterian Church, Pace is also an avid sports enthusiast and lifelong supporter of the Clemson Tigers. He even helped organize a local baseball league, the Orangeburg NU South Packers.
It is Pace’s constant attentiveness and persistence in fulfilling his goals and any job set before him that earned his designation as the exemplification of diligence for the month of October as part of the Orangeburg County Community of Character initiative.
It is an honor for which Pace is grateful.
“I appreciate it very much and I thank everybody involved. I feel like there are many more that deserve it more than me, but I am very happy that I have been nominated for it,” Pace said.
“I’m still active with law enforcement: federal, state, county, city and all. I try to stay active, and I think a lot more retired personnel should be more active,” Pace said.
He recalled his days at the old Orangeburg Ice and Fuel station, where he sold watermelons, cantaloupes and soft drinks as a preteen. Always working, Pace also sold peanuts and delivered newspapers for The Times and Democrat.
“My father was that way. Hours didn’t mean anything to him. If there was any job that needed to be done, it was done. I inherited and developed that from him,” said Pace, son of the late C.W. and Frances Pace.
“My mother was the same way. She was a hard worker. I’m proud to say that my daughter was the same way. She had a good reputation as an individual that wanted to complete whatever project she started,” Pace said. He and his wife, Audrey, lost their only child, Audrey “Dree” McCormick Pace, in 2006 to cancer.
“I’m a two-time cancer survivor of both the prostate and the throat. When I feel like I’m about to have self-pity, though, I just think a minute and I look around. I say, ‘You’re blessed,’ and that’s a fact,” Pace said. “I just thank the good Lord for every day.”
He is also thankful for the relationships he’s developed along his service journey.
“There are a number of things I’m proud of. I was interested in organizing a baseball league, and I went to Tom Strange as a kid. He helped me every way he could. He paid for travel and equipment and was the nicest anybody could possibly be,” Pace said. “We organized the NU South Packers. The first night baseball game played in Orangeburg was not played at Mirmow Field or anywhere else other than South Carolina State College.”
Pace worked for Belk Hudson department store in Orangeburg for 13 months before landing at Superior Motors, which the late Jim Guthrie Jr. founded in 1960.
“He was a close friend. He never asked me for anything out of the way when I was there,” Pace said.
He said he is equally proud of his church service as an elder and deacon.
“I think my wife really thinks I’m stupid because I don’t know how to say, ‘No.’ I’m no good at anything, but I want them to put on my tombstone: ‘He tried,’” Pace said.
He said he is proud of the Orangeburg community, which has the potential to grow with continued effective leadership.
“The potential is with us. We’ve got the tools to do it, but what we need now is the workers who will use the tools in a proper and orderly way.”