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Five recognized for helping Orangeburg County grow
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Five recognized for helping Orangeburg County grow


Visionary, leader, ambassador, legend, role model and guiding lights were among the accolades flowing forth Thursday night as local business and community leaders were recognized for their contribution to the growth of Orangeburg County over the years.

Good cheer and an abundance of pride tempered with humility were on display at the fifth annual Orangeburg County Business Hall of Fame banquet to honor and induct five local men into the county's roles of community pillars and shakers.

The 2019 Hall of Fame inductees are:

  • William J. Colvin Sr., (posthumous) -- owner of the former Holly Hill Lumber Company
  • Lawrence E. Miller Sr., (posthumous) -- owner of the former Holly Hill Lumber Company
  • Marion F. Moore -- president of Century 21 The Moore Group real estate firm
  • E.L. “Bert” Pooser Jr. -- Orangeburg native and founder of Irmo-based Interstate Management & Investment Corp., a hotel management and development company
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The Lifetime Achievement Award winner is Willie E. Jeffries, retired South Carolina State University football coach.

The men all expressed their love of Orangeburg and appreciation for being recognized in the prestigious Hall of Fame and Lifetime Achievement class.

Family and friends shared stories -- some poignant, others humorous -- of the honorees via prerecorded videos.

Each honoree received a standing ovation.

"These leaders we recognize tonight had a vision for this great community," said The Regional Medical Center President and CEO Charles Williams, who introduced Hall of Fame inductees. "These leaders recognized those needed resources that were made available and when you come together everyone works together and everyone is included. When there is sound economic infrastructures in a community, a community can be great." 

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"Our laureates, they too were community leaders and community builders. Also our two laureates that are no longer with us have left behind a legacy that continues to provide a guiding light for others to follow," Williams said.


Moore offered thanks to his family, community members and employees for helping him throughout his life and for his current success as a Realtor and developer.

"I am really humbled by it for many reasons," he said of the recognition. "None more important than when I look at the list of inductees who have proceeded me."

"Sometimes I question myself whether I would deserve such an honor," Moore said. "It speaks to a long career of showing up to work every day and trying to do something for Orangeburg. I am always trying to make Orangeburg a better place and this award is obviously tied to that effort."

Moore said growing up in Orangeburg means his roots run deep here.

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"I always told people to bloom where you are planted and I tried to do that," he said, noting the business climate in Orangeburg has not been like some of the larger cities but "for a smaller city in South Carolina I believe we have done fairly well."

Moore said his efforts are not done.

"I still feel the best days of Orangeburg are still coming and I hope the Lord will bless me a few more years to see it come to fruition," he said. "We are going to exist and do fine just like we are, but are you happy with that? I am asking everybody to dig a little deeper to see what we can do."


Bert Pooser has been building, buying, selling and operating hotels for 53 years. His business decisions over the years have been hinged to hundreds of millions of dollars.

"To be recognized in this manner from my hometown is just one of the best things that has ever happened in my life," Pooser said. "Orangeburg made me the success I am today. People in Orangeburg are still today some of my closest friends." A gift that keeps on giving

Pooser was at a loss for words at the honor and what it means to be recognized in the same breath as other Orangeburg greats who have received the honor in the past -- such as  Frank Tourville and James Roquemore, and those of the present inductee class.

"I don't know how to explain it," he said. "It is unbelievable to be recognized."


Bill Colvin III, grandson of William, grew up in Holly Hill and was a teenager when his grandfather, affectionately called "Pap," founded Holly Hill Lumber.

"I have fond memories of him," Colvin III said. "At the time I did not recognize and did not participate in his business activities but enjoyed the blessings of being with him on special occasions and visiting with him frequently."

Colvin recalled how his grandfather would work at the lumber mill for hours and that his father often joked that "he was born under the shadow of a smokestack."

He said his grandfather had to borrow a mule to plant his own garden and had to borrow a mule and wagon to move his family.

"These stories are so similar to so many people that are willing to make that effort," Colvin said, noting his grandfather was willing to trust in God for the betterment of his family to start the lumber business. Colvin and his partner Miller put down about $10,000 each to start the business. "It was not many years down the road that the Great Depression struck."

Business Hall of Fame
Business Hall of Fame
Business Hall of Fame
Business Hall of Fame
Business Hall of Fame

"They were hard workers and ... and had high expectations from themselves to provide a good product at a good price," Colvin said. "The built their businesses from the stump up."

Colvin III expressed his appreciation at the recognition of his grandfather.

"It is a great honor that nearly 100 years after he and his partner founded the company that they are still being recognized for the contributions they have made to the community, the county and the tri-county area," Colvin III said. "It is a real blessing to know that he and his partner contributed so much to the area."

Colvin, who currently works at Jackson Sawmill Lumber Company in Jackson, Alabama, described his grandfather as a "humble man" who if still alive would have given credit to those who worked with him as well as to his two sons, Calhoun and Bill (W.J.).

"I think it is a wonderful opportunity for the county to recognize those who have contributed to the community through their economic contributions to lift the county and improve its way of life," Colvin III said.

"It means so very much to our entire extended family for him to be honored in such a fine manner,' said Guy Miller, Lawrence's grandson. "As for me, at age 65, it has brought so much into focus about how to live a better life." A gift that keeps on giving


Robert Miller, grandson of Miller, reflected on growing up at his grandfather's cement plant in Holly Hill -- Portland Cement. Lawrence Miller, along with Colvin, entered the cement business in 1966. The cement business was on top of ownership of Holly Hill Lumber company and seven sawmills.

Through the lumber mills and cement plant, the men employed over 1,000 in the area.

"Working in the cement mill taught me a lot," Miller said. "Granddaddy and Mr. Colvin always instilled in us if you work hard, believe in the people and believe in Jesus Christ, you can go forward."

Miller said his grandfather would credit employees, the community and the state of South Carolina for making him a success.

"It is not just about one person," Miller said. "It is about the people of the state of South Carolina." 

Guy Miller, also Miller's grandson, echoed Colvin in noting his grandfather would have been humbled by the recognition.

"He was a selfless man on a higher life mission which he, with God's help, achieved in every way," Guy Miller said. "Granddad would thank everyone who has made this event possible, along with the Colvins and all the many people that were indispensable in helping him achieve his goals. He would be extremely grateful."


Upon receiving his award, Jeffries -- using his characteristic humor and causing frequent outbursts of joviality and laughter among those gathered -- expressed his appreciation at the honor.

"I came to the first four or five and Jim Roquemore and a bunch of others and I never thought I would be able to come to this podium," Jeffries said.

Jeffries ranked the recognition "at the top" of the many he has received over the years.

"It is quite an honor to be honored with this class and distinguished group," Jeffries said. "The magnitude of the award is not determined by the recipient but by the reputation of the organization presenting the award. It makes it a special award for me. Orangeburg has been such a wonderful town."

Jeffries noted that "success has no zip code."

"I preach it, I preach it every day to young men that they have to stop using their environment as a crutch not to do well," he said. "They just have to look at me. I came to South Carolina and I had two brand new Piggly Wiggly paper bags. I put all the clothes I had in there. I was the only person on campus with matching luggage."

Jeffries thanked a number of groups, including his alma mater South Carolina State University, but he said success in his life is a four letter word -- Mary, his wife.

He gave credit to her and the couple's three children, Valerie, Tamara and Willie Jr. for their support.

"Without them I would not be able to receive an award of this magnitude," he said. "They stuck by me through thick and thin. I have been so blessed there has not been a lot of thin." A gift that keeps on giving

The awards

Criteria for selection into the Orangeburg County Business Hall of Fame includes the significance of the impact made as a business leader, the concern demonstrated for improving the Orangeburg community and the display of ethics in all business dealings.

The criteria for selection for the Lifetime Achievement Award includes an individual dedicating his or her life to a worthy cause or impacting society or the lives of others. The award is open to civic, educational, institutional and political leaders.

The banquet is one of the main fundraisers for the Orangeburg County Economic Development Partnership and goes primarily to youth scholarships.

The OCEDP is a public/private group focused on assisting the OCDC in quality development for the secure future of the community. The OCEDP serves as the selection committee for inductees.

The county and OCEDP typically induct two living members into the business and industry hall of fame and one person posthumously.

The event is also being supported by the Orangeburg County Chamber of Commerce and the Orangeburg County Development Commission.

The presenting sponsors for the event were South State Bank and The Regional Medical Center; the reception sponsor was Universal Forest Products; the dinner sponsor was the Cox Family/Koppers; the video sponsor was the South Carolina Ports Authority; and the technology sponsor was The Office People.

There were more than a dozen sponsors for the event, including a number of champion and table sponsors.

Contact the writer: or 803-533-5551. Check out Zaleski on Twitter at @ZaleskiTD.


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