May 4, 2021

THE GOVERNOR MEETS THE CONNELLY KIDS

Have you ever had your photo taken with a public figure? A celebrity?  If so, do you even know where the photo is?  Or is it on prominent display in your home or office?  I have many photos of myself over the years with many different people—but almost all of them are with family, friends, co-workers—and not celebrities. 

Tom was something of a local celebrity around Columbia—as historian, author and writer of a weekly column in the Columbia Record. He enjoyed meeting other authors, country music stars—anyone famous.  After our divorce, he arranged for Heather and Patrick to have their photos taken with some of his “friends in high places.”  I’m especially fond of this one!  He’d met someone in the office of South Carolina’s new governor—and got Heather and Patrick on his schedule for this photo taken in the Governor’s office.  James B. Edwards was elected Governor of South Carolina in the 1974 election and served as governor from 1975-1979.  This photo was probably made in 1976—Patrick 5, Heather 8.

Edwards grew up in Mount Pleasant near Charleston and was an oral surgeon.  He became the first Republican governor of South Carolina since Reconstruction!  He’d been a State Senator for one term and defeated General William Westmoreland (who’d been a Vietnam general) in the gubernatorial primary. 

At that time, governors could not serve two consecutive terms. In 1980, President Ronald Reagan made his U.S. Secretary of Energy, and he served in that role for two years.  He later spent 17 years as president of the Medical University of South Carolina.

I’m sure the genial Edwards put Heather and Patrick at ease when they came for the photo op.  I don’t know if they still have a copy of this picture—or if I’ve become its guardian.

It is interesting that Tennessee also had its first Republican governor in 50 years from 1971-1975.  He was Winfield Dunn from Memphis—and was a dentist!  He and Edwards seemed to be starting a trend—short-lived though it was. 

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