Bill Mescher: The American Dream

This morning I got one of the biggest shocks of my life when an email let me know Senator Bill Mescher passed. I'm sure I didn't know Bill as well as his closest friends and family, I feel like I know him better than at least a few of those who knew him.

Not that it's ever good, but I had just been exchanging emails with him earlier this week, including doing an interview for my blog. As always, in spite of his age, Bill was in good health, and very much the same way he had been for years.

Bill Mescher was a lot of things for a lot of people, but he also meant a lot to me. Perhaps it is fitting that on a day like Easter that I can reflect upon those gifts that he shared with me, and with others.

On more than one occasion, Bill was there - be it signing scholarship application letters, being accessible when I needed to talk about an issue, making speaking appearances, and even sending a card and small check for my CofC graduation. That's the kind of person Bill was - always there for people when they needed him. After all he'd done for me, running his last campaign was one of the biggest honors of my life.

But there's a lot more to him than what I knew. Most amazing to me was his life's story. Someone who grew up poor, the first one in his family to get through high school ... then used the GI Bill to go to college ... and then became a major executive in the utility industry. As I struggled to get through college at night, and then graduate school, Bill's life was an inspiration to me, as I know it was to many others.

The American Dream isn't special just because of what one can accomplish. Its true meaning is in how it reaches out, inspires, and gives others hope for what they can accomplish. That was Bill's dream, and his gift to us. We would be wise to look at the example he set, and hope to see it in ourselves, and those around us.

In the days ahead, his wife Kitty and his daughter Barbara deserve our support, our prayers, and our gratitude, as well as many others who were close to Bill. Kitty and Barbara, above all else, were loyal to Bill, proud of him, and inspired him to reach as far as he did.

Bill Mescher left us this morning, but in what he was able to give and inspire in others, he will always be with us. For what he was to me and so many others, I am truly grateful.

Visitation and funeral plans are as follows ...

Visitation on Tuesday, April 10th from 6-8pm at the Russell Funeral Home in Moncks Corner, 107 West Main Street, Moncks Corner. Phone: (843) 761-8050

Memorial Service Wednesday, April 11, 2007 at 11:00am Moncks Corner United Methodist Church 200 N. Live Oak Drive 843-761-8547

You can send memorials to Mrs. William C. “Bill” Mescher P.O. Box 1, Pinopolis, SC 29469

In the news media:

Columbia City Paper

Mescher was a straight talker who always stood up for what he thought was right—even if it flew in the face of some colleagues in his own political party— and he took on changing laws that even he said were a little “out there” if it meant that it would help those he represented. He got ferrets legalized in South Carolina. Like your new tattoo? You have Senator Mescher to thank for getting tatooing legalized here. Even as recently as late last year he was trying to get South Carolina to legalize marijuana for medical use, something he thought was the right thing to do after watching his wife suffer a painful death over 20 years ago.

Greenville News

An engineer by training, Mescher was a former chief executive of the state-owned utility and was recognized for modernizing Santee Cooper. The native of Belknap, Ill., also learned how to buck the good ol' boy system in his 14 years in the Statehouse.

In May 2000, Mescher was criticized during a re-election campaign for butting heads with other senators. In an interview with The (Charleston) Post and Courier, he said, "I don't think I've been controversial. I'm just nobody's puppy dog ... I don't like some kingfish of the county to say, 'OK, Mescher, this is what we're going to do.' I don't jump in line."

Mescher moved to South Carolina in 1976 to become president and chief executive officer of Santee Cooper. He retired in 1989 and worked as a consultant before running for his Senate seat. He was the first Republican elected to the seat since Reconstruction.

But Mescher's issues weren't always in synch with other conservatives. For 10 years, he pushed to get tattooing legalized in South Carolina. He said he was driven by the unsanitary conditions of the illegal parlors and wanted to regulate the industry to clean it up.

Charleston Post and Courier

Mescher, who lived in Pinopolis with his wife, Kitty, is recognized for modernizing the state-owned utility. He also earned a reputation as a straight shooter who shook up the good ol' boy system in Berkeley County and the state Senate, where he served since 1993.

"He found out you 'got to play along to get along' and he wasn't going to do it," said Sen. Larry Grooms, R-Bonneau. "He had a strong sense of what was right and what was wrong, and he voted that way," Grooms said.

"You knew exactly where he stood on an issue, whether you agreed with him or not. He was professional enough to know how to disagree and do it agreeably," said Rep. Shirley Hinson, R-Goose Creek.

5 Response to "Bill Mescher: The American Dream"

  1. Moye 8/4/07 14:41
    Not only did Berkeley county loose a good man but so did South Carolina and our nation. I still like the stand on Medical Marijuana he took. He also had some interesting times with Mark Sanford over Santee Cooper. May he rest in peace and my prayers are with his family and those that knew him.
  2. Mike Reino 8/4/07 22:37
    Earl,
    Bill was a great man. Humble , easygoing, and willing to help any Republican. Bill was one of the few people in Columbia willing to attach his name to my campaign. Please send my regards to the Senator's family, as he will be sorely missed.
  3. Brian McCarty 9/4/07 06:00
    The South Carolina Senate lost a great member. My sympathies and prayers to the Senator's family and friends. This a big loss for the SC Senate and for the entire state.
  4. Anonymous 12/4/07 04:50
    Mr. Mescher was such a good man. I know him and he took my son on a trip to San Francisco last summer with his family with no expense to my son. It was such a sweet gesture. Taylor stated it was the best trip of his life. He stated Mr. Mescher took them to poor areas to let them know how important education is and that anything is possible as long as you have the desire. When I have talked with him on the phone, he is like my father, he stands for what is right. Right now my heart truly aches for his daughter, my friend, his grandson, and his wife. I send my love to them and they are in my prayers. People should take a lesson from this wonderful man and the life he led.
  5. Anonymous 27/12/07 00:12
    Senator Mescher was a great man and a great legislator. He truly cared about the citizens of Berkeley County and South Carolina. He was not in Columbia as part of the status quo, but to make a change...a difference. He is missed every day in his smile, his laugh, and his genuineness. His wife Kitty is a wonderful woman. Please send her a note telling her how much the Senator meant to you.

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