LEXINGTON -- Martin O'Neal Laird, 74, of Lexington, husband of Donna Livingston Tyler Laird, passed away peacefully Thursday, May 9, 2019, surrounded by his loving family.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Monday, May 13, in the chapel of Dukes-Harley Funeral Home, 3379 Columbia Road, Orangeburg, with the Rev. Lee Clamp officiating. The family will receive friends following the service.
O'Neal was born July 12, 1944, to Bonner O'Neal Laird and Jeanette Owens Laird and grew up in Barnwell County. He graduated from Blackville High School and Louisiana State University Graduate School of Banking. He worked in the banking business for eight years, serving as a vice president with County National Bank in Blackville. O'Neal proudly served six years in the 122nd Engineering Battalion of the South Carolina Army National Guard. He then discovered his passion in the food and gasoline business, founding Bi-Rite Food Stores Inc.
O'Neal was a community-minded servant leader. Among his many accomplishments were serving as mayor of Blackville, president of the Blackville Industrial Board, chairman of the Barnwell County Heart Fund Association, chairman of the Barnwell County American Cancer Society Association, chairman of the Legislative Committee of the S.C. State Development Board and chairman of the Barnwell County Republican Party for many years. He was honored to be chosen for the S.C. Ambassador for Economic Development Award as well as the Spirit of America Award by the S.C. Food Retailers Association. O'Neal also served on the advisory board of the S.C. Department of Education and the Medical University of South Carolina Board of Visitors. He had a strong faith and was an active member of Barnwell First Baptist Church for many years. Upon moving to Lexington in 1999, he continued his role as president of Bi-Rite, where he expanded the business into Lexington County. Upon his retirement in July 2014, he enjoyed all that life on Lake Murray had to offer.
O'Neal's life was defined most of all by his relationships with his friends and family. He especially enjoyed spending time with his wife Donna; three daughters, Grace Johnston of Mount Pleasant, Charlotte Laird of Charleston and Lauren Laird of Lexington, and his adoring grandson Parker, who affectionately called him "Pops." He also shared very close relationships with his son-in-law, John Johnston; his mother-in-law Grace Livingston; his brother-in-law, Dean Livingston Jr. (Tina); his niece and nephews; and with so many friends from every stage of life. He was predeceased by his sister and brother-in-law, Mary Louise and A.J. Kinard of Barnwell.
O'Neal was a sweetheart with an uncanny intelligence and infectious laugh. He was kind, thoughtful, humble, hard working, polite, faithful and tenacious. He loved golf games with friends, Gamecock football, politics, Spades matches and traveling, especially cruising. He had a way with numbers and was his family's "walking calculator." Most of all, he cherished his time with his wife, with whom he recently celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary. Along with his abundant stories, his family will miss his kindness, his humor, his strength and all of his "I love you's."
Memorials may be made to Epworth Children's Home, P.O. Box 50466, Columbia, SC 29250.
Online condolences may be expressed at www.dukesharleyfuneralhome.com.