William Douglas “Bill” Workman III, whose tenure as mayor from 1983-1995 saw the emergence of Greenville as an economic and cultural center, died May 12 at his Walterboro home. He was 78.

Lives of honor, courage

Workman was elected mayor in 1983 at a time when the economy had been lagging and Greenville was in a rut after former Mayor Max Heller planted the first seeds of downtown rebirth, according to reporting by The Greenville News.

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Workman, a 1961 graduate of The Citadel and retired U.S. Army Reserve colonel, was poised to see the vision for rebirth through, Greenville Mayor Knox White told the newspaper.

"There were many voices at the time that didn't want Greenville to grow," White said. "He saw economic development as his life's mission."

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White defeated Workman in the mayoral race in 1995, and from there Workman's political career shifted into a focus on accomplishing his mission in the private sector.

"He was the right man at the right time to serve as mayor," City Councilman George Fletcher. "He was great at pulling in corporate support and building public-private partnerships for projects like the Peace Center."

Workman grew up in Walterboro and Columbia.

His father, the late William Douglas Workman Jr., was state capital correspondent for various South Carolina newspapers and Newsweek magazine and later editor of The State newspaper. His mother, Rhea, was a professor of English at Columbia College.

Workman began his professional career as a news reporter, first for the Charleston News and Courier, and then for The Greenville News from 1966-1970. It was in Greenville that he began working with economic development. After serving as executive assistant to Gov. James B. Edwards from 1975-1978, Workman joined Fluor Daniel Inc., where he worked for many years in industrial relations and project development.

In 1994, Workman began working for Piedmont Natural Gas in Greenville as its vice president for S.C. district operations. He continued his economic development work, serving in roles including president of the Municipal Association of South Carolina, chairman of the Greenville Area Development Corporation, founding board member of the Upstate Alliance and president of the Greenville County Research and Technological Development Corporation.

Upon retiring from Piedmont Natural Gas, Workman moved to the South Carolina Lowcountry in 2006. He was the town manager of Bluffton before retiring in 2009. He continued working in retirement as an economic development consultant, serving on the board of directors of the Colleton County Economic Development Alliance and as a commissioner of the Savannah River Maritime Commission.

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Graveside services will be held at 3 p.m. Thursday at Live Oak Cemetery in Walterboro, followed by a celebration of his life at his residence at 109 Silverhill Road, Walterboro.

Workman’s complete obituary can be found at http://walterborolive.com/2019/05/william-workman-iii-obituaries/

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