A free public event celebrating the storied life of Pat Conroy (1945–2016), Beaufort’s iconic adopted son and the Lowcountry’s literary ambassador to the world, will be held at 5 p.m. on Saturday, May 14, in Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park. This memorial is co-sponsored by the USCB Center for the Arts and the City of Beaufort.
Presented as a gathering of friends and family sharing their memories of Conroy, the event will feature remarks and readings by Conroy’s wife and fellow novelist Cassandra King; South Carolina’s preeminent historian Walter Edgar; USCB English professor and author Ellen Malphrus; New York Times best-selling novelist Patti Callahan Henry; and teacher and Conroy’s lifelong friend Bernie Schein. Conroy’s friend and Citadel classmate John Warley will serve as the event’s master of ceremonies and Marlena Smalls of the Hallelujah Singers will perform.
As a precursor to the evening event at Waterfront Park, from 10:30 a.m. – 4 on May 14, Historic Beaufort Foundation will offer free admission to the “Pat Conroy at 70” exhibition at the Verdier House (801 Bay St). This remarkable exhibit, on loan from the Pat Conroy Archive at the University of South Carolina Libraries, features artifacts and photographs from Conroy’s writing life in Beaufort and on Daufuskie Island.
The day’s special events bring an opportunity for Conroy’s friends, family, and readers to gather together in shared grief over his death on March 4, but also in shared celebration of the unrivaled literary legacy he left behind, a legacy of love and friendship born out of pain and loss. May 14 promises to be an opportunity for tears of joy as well as sorrow, and for Conroy’s great love to be felt anew all over his beloved Beaufort.