The new year is upon us. As we consider the people who will make a difference in 2021, we look back today at those having been a major positive influence in recent years.
The focus is The Times and Democrat’s Person of the Year. On Sunday, we will introduce you to a most deserving 2020 honoree, who will join a select group of individuals.
- 2009 — Frank Tourville, Zeus Industrial Products Inc. founder, purchased and revitalized the Orangeburg Country Club with major improvements in infrastructure and on the golf course. The industry he brought to Orangeburg in 1981, Zeus, continues to achieve major success as an internationally renowned tubing manufacturer. And Tourville continues as a major supporter of Orangeburg and its institutions of higher learning.
- 2010 — Willie Jeffries, the then-winningest coach in South Carolina State University football history, was the first African American to lead an NCAA Division I football team and is a hall-of-fame coach. But it is his community involvement that elevates Jeffries beyond football legend. He was then and continues today to be deeply involved with community service at a time when he really doesn’t have to be. He could rest on his laurels or spend his days entertaining others with an unmatched wit.
- 2011 — The award to Bamberg County native Nikki Haley recognized her first year in office as South Carolina governor, 12 months during which she was a frequent visitor in The T&D Region, announcing new industries and jobs, speaking at events and holding one-on-one constituent meetings. She appointed numerous people with local ties to state leadership positions, boards and commissions.
- 2012 — In his years as the Regional Medical Center’s president and chief executive officer, Tom Dandridge helped steer the hospital through difficult times. Amid recession and a health care landscape filled with uncertainty, RMC took major steps to improve care for the community and the region.
- 2013 — President Dr. Henry N. Tisdale and first lady Alice Carson Tisdale as a team transformed Claflin University into a premier undergraduate teaching and research university. The Tisdales retired in 2019 after 25 years of leading Claflin.
Dr. Tisdale returned to his alma mater as its eighth president in 1994, and Mrs. Tisdale took the reins as director of Claflin’s Honors College — renamed The Alice Carson Tisdale Honors College by the university’s trustees in 1996. Mrs. Tisdale died in 2020.
- 2014 -- John A. "Papa Tony" Fogle, who founded the business that evolved into Carolina Fresh Farms, was one of America’s “Greatest Generation” and also a businessman, civic leader and generous benefactor who positively impacted Orangeburg County. Today, Fogle's grandson, Andy Fogle, continues to operate the family business as its chief executive officer.
The elder Fogle was part of the 90th Infantry Division, nicknamed “Tough ‘Ombres.” His division landed on Utah Beach and fought its way through Normandy, eventually fighting in the Battle of the Bulge. Fogle began farming in the 1940s, growing cotton, corn and soybeans. He expanded into hay and lumber in the 1960s and later began growing mushrooms. Fogle died in June 2019.
- 2015 – William B. Cox Sr. of Orangeburg is founder and former CEO of Cox Industries. He has a lifetime of contributions to Orangeburg County, both in terms of his company's economic impact on the community and his charitable work on behalf of its citizens.
- 2016 -- Charles S. Way Jr., Orangeburg native, noted businessman and former S.C. secretary of commerce, was then the chairman of the South Carolina State University board of trustees. He led the board as it guided the university out of fiscal crisis.
- 2017 – Orangeburg artist Dr. Leo Twiggs has won international acclaim for works including two series of batik paintings, "Requiem for Mother Emanuel" and "The Nine," both inspired by the killings by gunman Dylann Roof of nine parishioners of Emanuel AME Church in Charleston during a Bible study on June 17, 2015.
- 2018 – Cecil Williams, a lifelong Orangeburg resident, is known widely as a talented photographer who chronicled the Civil Rights Movement in the city and later published books of photographs. He is the founder of the Cecil Williams Civil Rights Museum in Orangeburg.
- 2019 -- South Carolina State University head football coach Buddy Pough had a monumental year in 2019. He became S.C. State’s winningest football coach, was named the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Coach of the Year and BoxToRow Co-Coach of the Year, and captured his seventh MEAC championship. He continues to be a major force in the community with organizations such as the Orangeburg Touchdown Club.
Publisher Cathy Hughes described the T&D Person of the Year award at its inception: “The recognition is not about being the biggest newsmaker, it is about being a leader who exhibits positive actions. (It) is intended to highlight positive contributions by residents of The T&D Region that affect residents of The T&D Region.”
The people recognized have made and continue to make a positive impact on our community. They deserve recognition beyond an award for a single year. The 2020 honoree being named Sunday is an excellent addition to this group of lifetime achievers.