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TO JOIN THE CITIZENS OF THE STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA IN THEIR PROFOUND SADNESS AT THE LOSS OF THE DISTINGUISHED GOVERNOR ROBERT EVANDER MCNAIR, A STATESMAN AND GENTLEMAN WHOSE INTEGRITY DURING TURBULENT TIMES WROUGHT A NEW DAY FOR THIS STATE AND ITS PEOPLE.
Whereas, among South Carolina's greatest statesmen was the late Robert Evander McNair, Governor of South Carolina; and
Whereas, the Honorable Robert Evander McNair, Governor of the State of South Carolina from 1965 until 1971, died Saturday, November 17, 2007, in Charleston; and
Whereas, the only child of his proud parents, Daniel Evander McNair and Claudia Crawford, Governor McNair was born on December 14, 1923, in Cades, South Carolina; and
Whereas, a graduate of Macedonia High School in Bonneau, he attended Clemson College for one semester before enrolling at the University of South Carolina; and
Whereas, interrupting his college education to serve his country during World War II, Governor McNair was commissioned an Ensign in the United States Naval Reserve in 1943, after completing officer's training school at Northwestern University; and
Whereas, before becoming deployed on active duty, he married his best friend and loving companion, Sarah Josephine Robinson of Allendale, South Carolina, on May 30, 1944; and
Whereas, a steadfast, heroic officer, Governor McNair was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for meritorious service in connection with operations against the enemy while serving as Commanding Officer of LCT 1072 in Leyte Gulf as part of the Asiatic-Pacific campaign. Serving in the Pacific Theatre for twenty-two months with the Seventh Amphibious Forces, he was released from active duty on March 9, 1946, and was discharged from the United States Naval Reserve as a Lieutenant junior grade on October 15, 1954; and
Whereas, Governor McNair returned to the University of South Carolina upon discharge from the Navy. There, he earned both Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Laws degrees, was a member of Kappa Sigma, Phi Delta Phi, Kappa Sigma Kappa, and Beaux Arts, and served as President of the Blue Key national honorary service fraternity; and
Whereas, admitted to the South Carolina Bar in 1948, Governor McNair opened his first law practice with Marion Fenton Winter in Moncks Corner, where he also helped operate his family's farm outside of Jamestown. Later that year, he and Josephine moved to Allendale, where he formed a law partnership with Thomas O. Lawton, Jr.; and
Whereas, inspired by his own father and possessing a true heart for public service, Governor McNair was an unsuccessful candidate for the South Carolina House of Representatives in 1946 before becoming elected to the General Assembly in 1950, where he ably served his constituents of Allendale County from 1951 until 1962; and
Whereas, during his illustrious career in the House of Representatives, Governor McNair was a member of the committees on Labor, Commerce, and Industry, which he chaired from 1953 until 1954, Judiciary, which he chaired from 1955 until 1962, and Rules. As a legislator, he strongly supported and worked for improvements in South Carolina's education system; and
Whereas, elected Lieutenant Governor of South Carolina on November 6, 1962, Governor McNair served in that capacity during the Ninety-fifth and Ninety-sixth General Assemblies before becoming Governor on April 22, 1965, upon the resignation of Governor Donald S. Russell. He was reelected to a full term of office on November 8, 1966, and served as Governor until January 19, 1971; and
Whereas, earning recognition for South Carolina on a national level, Governor McNair was a member of the Executive and Steering Committees and Chairman of the Education Commission of the States; Chairman of the Southern Regional Education Board; Vice Chairman and Chairman of the Southern Governors Conference; member of the Executive Committee and Chairman of the National Democratic Governors Conference; and member of the Committee on Assessing Progress of Education, as well as the National Committee for Support of Public Schools; and
Whereas, possessing a keen vision of a global economy, Governor McNair successfully positioned South Carolina to compete with other states in providing jobs, thereby expanding the financial stability of this State. Working with numerous foreign businesses, he led many foreign trade missions that resulted in the growth of foreign-owned industries in South Carolina; and
Whereas, Governor McNair's desire to provide South Carolinians with a better quality of life inspired many of his objectives within the General Assembly. In 1966, he sponsored a Conference for the Arts, which led to the creation of the State Arts Commission, and commissioned a study on South Carolina's tourism potential, which led to the merging of three state agencies into the Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism; and
Whereas, serving as Governor through one of the state's most turbulent times, Governor McNair rose from the tragedy of the Orangeburg Massacre to establish a Civil Rights Task Force, whose mission was to work for racial unity through the organization of bi-racial committees whose single goal was to resolve divisive issues through improved communication; and
Whereas, a champion of quality public education for all citizens, Governor McNair publicly urged the immediate acceptance of court-ordered integration in Greenville and Darlington counties in 1970. His exceptional leadership made peaceful integration of all South Carolina school districts possible; and
Whereas, upon the expiration of his term as Governor in 1971, Governor McNair formed a law firm with James S. Konduros and O. Wayne Corley. He served as Chairman of McNair Law Firm P.A. until his death, taking great personal interest and pride in every individual associated with the firm; and
Whereas, Governor McNair served as a founding member and Chairman of the South Carolina Educational Television Endowment and was instrumental in establishing the Employees Benefit Service Corporation of the South Carolina Deferred Compensation Commission; and
Whereas, in 1981, the State Capitol Complex in Columbia, which was conceived and planned during his administration, was dedicated to him by the State of South Carolina in recognition of and appreciation for his long service to the State. In February of 2004, he was inducted into the South Carolina Hall of Fame; and
Whereas, a caring and devoted family man, Governor McNair and Josephine shared a loving marriage for sixty-three years. Together, they had four beloved children, Robert E. McNair, Jr., Robin Lee Howell, Corinne Calhoun Godshall, and Claudia Crawford McNair, and adored their six grandchildren, Jon Craig Howell, Jr., Jodi Lee Howell Dowdy, Robert E. McNair III, Coleman Thomas Parks, Jr., William Thomas McNair, and Josephine Dixon Godshall, and great-granddaughter, Shalee Christine Dowdy; and
Whereas, the members of the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina pause in their deliberations to celebrate the life and legacy of the late Governor Robert Evander McNair and to express their profound gratitude for his years of public service and for his unfaltering commitment and loyalty to the State of South Carolina. Now, therefore,
Be it resolved by the House of Representatives, the Senate concurring:
That the members of the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina, by this resolution, join the citizens of the State of South Carolina in their profound sadness at the loss of the distinguished Governor Robert Evander McNair, a statesman and gentleman whose integrity during turbulent times wrought a new day for this State and its people.
Be it further resolved that a copy of this resolution be forwarded to the family of the late Governor Robert Evander McNair and to the McNair Law Firm.
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