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A group of business and education leaders who contributed to the county’s growth were honored for their efforts during Thursday’s Orangeburg County Business Hall of Fame banquet.

Orangeburg County Development Commission Chairman Kenneth Middleton called the recipients, “excellent examples of paths to follow.”

The business leaders inducted into the hall of fame were:

• Charles P. Thompson Jr. – A pharmacist who is owner and CEO of Grove Park Pharmacy, Medical Equipment and Hospice Care

• James Roquemore -- Chairman of the board and chief executive officer of Patten Seed Co. Inc. in Orangeburg and general manager of Orangeburg's SuperSod

• The late George H. Cornelson Sr. – Orangeburg city pioneer, business owner and philanthropist

• The late Robert H. Jennings Sr. -- Orangeburg businessman and civic leader

In addition, Claflin University President Dr. Henry N. Tisdale received the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Roquemore praised both the city and county leadership for making Orangeburg a great place to do business.

"I love Orangeburg," Roquemore said. "It has been my home for 35 years and it is just a special place to live."

"You can get permits easily. You can build easily," he said. "Having that support is important to business."

He also praised his employees and family for their support over the years.

Thompson said, "I am so proud of Orangeburg giving me such a chance of supporting local business and shopping locally.

"Orangeburg is a wonderful community. The people are just so loving. We work together. We have problems but we work toward a common goal."

Thompson said, "We just want to improve it so our children and our grandchildren will want to come to live here and shop locally."

Thompson gave his father credit for teaching him empathy and compassion.

"If you take care of the patients and you take care of the customers, it will all come back tenfold to us. We do a lot of compassionate work. I have been so blessed and so fortunate,” he said.

George H. Cornelson V, the great-great grandson of Cornelson, traveled from Laurens County to accept the recognition on behalf of the family.

"It is very important to me," Cornelson said. "It helps connect me with someone who I didn't know but who I heard about. As a businessman, I really respect what it takes and what it certainly took at that time to be successful during a very challenging time in the South."

"He died 102 years ago and for people to be talking about him tonight is really a special honor to me," Cornelson said.

Robert Jennings IV, who accepted the recognition on behalf of his great-grandfather, said it was an honor to celebrate his family's impact on Orangeburg.

"He started so many businesses here," Jennings said.

Tisdale is preparing to retire in June after 25 years of leading Claflin University.

He said the award, "is not just about Henry N. Tisdale. It is about what has been achieved in terms of the phenomenal transformation at Claflin University over the last two decades. The honor really belongs to Team Claflin."

Tisdale also expressed his appreciation at being recognized by his local community.

"It is a celebration after 25 years," Tisdale said. "We celebrate our time in Orangeburg. This is home. It means more when you are honored at home than when you are honored away from home."

The Orangeburg County Business Hall of Fame is a project of the Orangeburg County Economic Development Partnership. The partnership is a public/private group focused on assisting the development commission.

The presenting sponsor for the event was South State Bank, the reception sponsor was Claflin University, the dinner sponsor was the Regional Medical Center and the video sponsor was the Cox family and THS Constructors.

The event had a total of 18 sponsors, the largest number since the event's inception.

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

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

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Staff Writer

Gene Zaleski is a reporter/staff writer with The Times and Democrat.

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