How I remember Rod Shealy


It must be an election year in heaven, because today they called one of the best players to help out: Rod Shealy.

I first met Rod when I was just starting to get active in politics in the early 90s. Since then, it seems as if the Shealy family has been a part of my life in a lot of ways: I supported his sister for Lt. Governor in 1990, attended CofC with his niece Mandy, worked with his son RJ on a couple of races, hung out with Ross at more than one Midlands place featuring food and drink, and depending on the race, worked with or against Rod.

While the Shealy clan is a big family, more than a few of whom had made their mark in state politics, for me and many others, Rod was the one who really defined the Shealy clan. He was confident, sometimes cocky, and always brimming with ideas and stories. While his shirts were colorful, his personality was even more so. If you worked with one of his candidates, you never knew what was going to pop out of his head, or when.

The most important things I learned about politics from Rod is that you never went wrong by running a race based upon hard work and listening to the little guy. His low-dollar campaigns that were based on candidates walking and low-cost mailings often beat the expensive top-down campaigns which put more effort into slick production and mass media efforts. Before anything else, Rod made his candidates get out, walk neighborhoods and talk with people.

In this day and age, where we’ve become so disconnected and hide behind mass and electronic media, this approach was refreshing. A lot of professional communicators teach us to speak, but Rod taught us to listen.

Rod always challenged people to jump in and make things happen, spreading ideas, electing candidates, and celebrating the great American democratic tradition. He’d expect us to keep doing just that.

But I’m sure he’d prefer that we did so while wearing brightly-colored Hawaiian shirts.

Rod didn’t wait until time was short to put together the proverbial “bucket list”. His life was his bucket list, lived to the fullest every day. He lived more boldly when facing death than most of us will ever dare to live when all is going well. While there was a lot one could learn from being around him, that’s the most important lesson of all.

That is how I'll remember Rod Shealy, and as long as I'm active in South Carolina politics, I'm sure I'll think of him often.

For Rod and his family, especially RJ, Ross, Sherry and Mandy, my thoughts and my prayers are with you.

3 Response to "How I remember Rod Shealy"

  1. Moye Graham 18/8/10 22:18
    He was definitely a little out there and I also considered him a friend even if I did not always agree with him. I am certainly glad that I knew him. Rest in peace and God Bless. Have a Cheeseburger in Paradise for me man.
  2. west_rhino 19/8/10 09:29
    Well said Earl. Rod was a mensch.
  3. E. Parker 19/8/10 10:36
    He was a Midlands institution. Some of his work was brilliant.

    How many Gamecock fans remember "Gamecock Fever"? The satire was Saturday Night Live quality, I thought. I would never go to my seat at games until I got my copy. Now, I wished I had saved a copy.

    Rod was part of the special collection of people who give meaning, personality and color to our state. May he rest in peace.

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