HOLLY HILL — "I'm just one of many," insists Margaret Uzzle of Holly Hill, humbly not wanting to be in the spotlight. But in the spotlight she is, having been selected by the Community of Character as the Orangeburg County resident most exemplifying the month of March's character trait of pride.
Uzzle takes great pride in her community and uses her time and talents to envision the future of Holly Hill and then works toward it. Her pride runs deep for this community that her family first inhabited in 1855. They were prominent in the educational system with her father serving as superintendent of schools for the area and her mother working as a dedicated teacher.
In the 1880s, Uzzle's family ran the first cotton produce, called Wiggin's Brothers, at the Holly Hill Depot.
She said she is proud of what Holly Hill has accomplished.
"I have pride in my community in that I feel I owe my community … to volunteer my services, for whatever its worth, to preserve, maintain and improve our town in cooperation with others that feel the same way I do," Uzzle said. "I don't want to be singled out because there are so many people in this town that work together."
She noted that many of the local clubs such as the Potpourri Garden Club have contributed in bringing pride to the small town. The club raised funds and erected signs at all the entrances to Holly Hill. Also, banks and corporations such as Holnam and the Tri-County Regional Chamber of Commerce have taken on and supported projects that create pride and assist to promote the town, Uzzle pointed out.
Appointed by Mayor David Whitehead in 1986, she and her sister-in-law, Gene Wiggins, formed a committee to design a slogan and a seal for Holly Hill. The slogan became "Proud Past - Progressive Future," and the seal was designed by Wiggins.
Uzzle and others have worked toward meeting the challenges of change.
"The only thing you can be assured of is change, so prepare for it. Seek a vision and work toward it," she said.
And work toward it, she does. Uzzle is presently involved with the Eastern Orangeburg County Regional Industrial Park Commission, the Gilmore House/Park committee and the Eastern Orangeburg County Heritage Corridor Committee. She is also an active advocate of public education.
Uzzle was the first president of the Greater Holly Hill Development Corporation, of which she is still a member. She has served on the board of Target Methodist Church and in many other capacities at the church, including compiling its history. In addition, she served on the steering committee for J. Frances Folk Park.
"Pride is one character trait that needs to be clarified. Too little or too much either could be detrimental to self and the community. One can be too proud and be egotistical," Uzzle said. "Then there are those that have little pride in their environment and are not good stewards of it."
One example that she pointed out is the highway leading into Holly Hill from the cement plants and Interstate 26. Little pride is shown by those who have tossed out trash, leaving the entrance to the town besmirched and giving the town a trashy appearance to visitors, she said.
"I can't understand that. If you have community pride, you work so that others may say, "Look at this community; they certainly care.' It bothers me when that isn't taking place. One must have a pride in one's self and community," Uzzle said.
When asked what she is most proud of about Holly Hill, she said she is proud of the warm, caring community that voted in 1910 to join Orangeburg County, becoming the second largest town in the county. She cherishes the thought that Holly Hill is a community that is gracious and warm, inviting others to "come live with us."
Holly Hill has deep roots and yet plans to meet the challenges of change for a progressive future, Uzzle said.
She has two children, Mitch Uzzle and Linda Lacey, who have also followed in their family's footsteps in the field of education. Uzzle is also very proud of her two grandchildren, Josh and Meghan Lacey.
Uzzle's insistence that she is "one of many," might be true, but it's too bad there aren't many exactly like her. As Richard Taylor once said, "The beauty of a deed is not in its fruits, but in the character it displays …Those who are blessed with such gifts almost never receive honors for them, and they even, sometimes, do not receive significant notice, yet they are precious things and very proper sources of pride."
T&D Correspondent Julie Campbell Sohm can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.