When named 2012 Orangeburg Area Citizen of the Year in 2012, Frank Staley Jr. did something that no other recipient of the award had ever done.
Raising his napkin, Staley waved it over his head to the laughter of the audience.
“They kind of think a little bit about the old man, don’t they?” Staley said, smiling.
Never mind that it wouldn't have bothered Staley, who died on Chrismas Day, had the audience reacted differently. He did things his way and Orangeburg loved him for his service and humor.
In presenting the award in 2012, Dr. Gene Atkinson cited four areas that helped define Staley’s life: the military, the Boy Scouts, education and sports.
Serving during the Korean War, the 28-year veteran retired from the U.S. Army Reserve as a lieutenant colonel in 1979. Staley was a past commander of American Legion Post 239 and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8166, and held a life membership in the Reserve Officers Association.
The organizations Staley was involved with during his lifetime include the Shriners and the Masons. His community contributions involved service as a past chairman of the Orangeburg County Department of Social Services, the Orangeburg County American Red Cross and the Orangeburg County Mental Retardation Board.
During more than 60 years of service to the Boy Scouts, Staley garnered every award offered by Scouting as an Eagle Scout and troop leader. He was also named the 2010 Eagle Scout Class honoree during Scouting’s centennial year in 2010.
Staley taught as an assistant professor of math at South Carolina State University and a Reserve Officer Training Corps instructor from 1958 to 1990. His education included numerous service schools, a bachelor’s degree from S.C. State in 1951 and later a master’s degree in math from Columbia University.
Staley also made a great impact in athletics as a coach and referee in several sports at the recreational and collegiate level. He was a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, the S.C. Officials Basketball Hall of Fame and the S.C. State Athletic Hall of Fame.
Those having known Frank Staley Jr. will agree that he will be sorely missed. But all can take solace in the words of his son, Frank Staley III: "He had a nice 90-year-plus run and he loved Orangeburg!"
And Orangeburg loved him.