Harvey left a lasting legacy in Beaufort

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Sen. Tom Davis (R-Beaufort), left, talks with former Lt. Governor Brantley Harvey on Wednesday at The University of S.C. Beaufort. Harvey was honored as one of the major donors to USCB's new art program.

William Brantley Harvey Jr.
August 14, 1930 ~ December 12, 2018

The Honorable William Brantley Harvey Jr., who served as Lt. Governor of South Carolina from 1975 to 1979, died peacefully in his hometown of Beaufort on December 12. He was 88 years old.

William Brantley Harvey Jr.

Brantley was born in Walterboro on Aug. 14, 1930, the only child of W. Brantley and Thelma Lightsey Harvey. Raised in Beaufort, Brantley graduated from Beaufort High School and attended the Citadel, where he was a member of L Company, served as Executive Officer of First Battalion and captain of the varsity swim team. He graduated magna cum laude both from the Citadel in 1950 and from the University of South Carolina Law School in 1955. He served as a lieutenant in the United States Army at Ft. Bliss, Texas, from 1952-54. After law school, he returned to Beaufort to practice law with his father in the firm Harvey and Harvey, now known as Harvey and Battey.

Like his father, Brantley served his county and state as an elected official for most of his professional life. He was elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives from Beaufort in 1958 and served in that capacity until 1975. He worked tirelessly to bring small industry and technical education to the Lowcountry to prepare citizens for a changing workforce. Brantley chaired the House Ways and Means Committee, stewarding the state’s budget, and worked to increase funding for K-12 public education. He also chaired the House Rules Committee. He was instrumental in securing funding for numerous local improvement projects in Beaufort County.

As Lt. Governor, Brantley continued to serve as an ambassador for the South Carolina business community, traveling on trade missions to Japan, Nigeria, Germany, Russia, and China. He represented the state at President Jimmy Carter’s inauguration and at a U.S. Bicentennial celebration hosted by the Republic of Ireland. He ran for Governor in 1978.

After leaving statewide public office in 1979, Brantley continued to serve on the Parks, Recreation and Tourism Commission, on the State Highway Commission and on the State Technical College Board. He was a leader in the Coastal Carolina Council of the Boy Scouts and was a champion of helping at-risk youth through the Associated Marine Institute, helping start the Beaufort Marine Institute (AMI Kids) in 1985. A lifelong musician, Brantley was a founding member and violinist in the Beaufort Chamber Orchestra. He served on numerous boards including AMI, AAA Carolinas, The Citadel Board of Trustees, The Citadel Foundation Board, MUSC Heart and Vascular Board, and the Beaufort Symphony Orchestra Board of Directors. He also served on the Board of Governors and as President of the South Carolina Bar Association. He has been recognized for his dedication to the South Carolina Lowcountry through receipt of the Order of the Palmetto, the Lifetime of Achievement Award, the Beaufort Civitas Award, and many other state and local awards. He was awarded an honorary doctorate degree by the Citadel. Prior to her death in 2010, Brantley and his wife Helen were jointly awarded honorary doctorate degrees by the University of South Carolina, the Rotary Bowl for Distinguished Civic Service, and honored with the naming of Harvey Park located in their Old Point neighborhood. Brantley was truly, as is the title of his memoir, a “Palmetto Patriot.”

Brantley’s Christian faith was central to his life. He and his family were members of First Presbyterian Church of Beaufort, where he taught Sunday School, served as an elder and deacon, and faithfully supported the church. He helped found the annual SC Legislative Prayer Breakfast and led Bible studies for his fellow legislators. He was a Director of the Salvation Army, serving as a volunteer bell ringer up until just a few years ago. He served for over 30 years as a member of the Board of the Mustard Seed Foundation, his family’s Christian foundation.

A lifelong Beaufortonian, he was a key part of the city’s civic and social life. He was a founding member of the Jean Ribaut Society, and enjoyed overseeing the family farm in Crocketville. He was an avid sailor, active in the many regattas at the Beaufort Yacht Club, and crewed on several ocean trips including from New England to Bermuda. In addition to being on the water, his avocations were swimming, hunting, playing the violin, cooking, traveling, history, and celebrating with family and friends. Brantley never met a stranger, and always showed a genuine interest in others. He will be missed by many lifelong friends and associates.

Brantley was married to Helen Beard Coggeshall of Darlington for 58 years until her death in 2010. He is survived by his second wife, Alice DeForest Harvey; five children and their spouses, Eileen and Dennis Bakke, Bill and Martha Harvey, Helen and Tuck Laffitte, Margaret and Dan Thompson, and Warren and Cathy Harvey; 18 grandchildren and their spouses, and 13 great-grandchildren.

There was a family graveside service on Monday, Dec. 17, followed by a worship service celebrating his life at First Presbyterian Church of Beaufort and a reception following the service at the St. Helena Anglican Church Fellowship Hall. In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial gifts be given to First Presbyterian Church of Beaufort, The Citadel Foundation, and Beaufort Symphony Orchestra.

Please share your thoughts and stories about Brantley by visiting www.copelandfuneralservice.com.

Photo at top: State Sen. Tom Davis, left, talks with former Lt. Governor Brantley Harvey on Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2011, at USCBís Historic Campus. Harvey was honored as one of the major donors to USCB’s new art program. Photo by Bob Sofaly.

Brantley Harvey

By Jane T. Upshaw

Beaufort, the Lowcountry, and South Carolina lost an extraordinary citizen with the passing last Wednesday of Brantley Harvey. He had strong values and beliefs that molded him into an active servant for the common good, especially for education. He was an essential leader in support of the University of South Carolina Beaufort from its inception when he was in the House of Representatives. However, that support was never more evident than the day Brantley and Helen gave a $1 million gift to the then-two-year institution, some of which was designated to help build the new campus in Bluffton, some to help renovate the old Beaufort College Campus, and the remainder for scholarships.  

His generosity did not end with that significant gift, it continued as USCB developed a public-private partnership with Beaufort and Jasper counties, local businesses, and private individuals to build an entire $40 million campus with an additional $10 million from Beaufort County for operating money for the transition. The plan was predicated on the University’s Board of Trustees and the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education approving the change in role and mission of USCB to become the first new baccalaureate-degree-granting institution in the state in almost 40 years. Brantley traveled the state with Helen to garner support from the Trustees and then made an impassioned plea to the CHE to approve the plan, which they ultimately did. But his able leadership and deep commitment to increase educational opportunities for the citizens of this historically-underserved, geographically-isolated corner of South Carolina was a linchpin in the plan to show wide-spread support for the institution’s move to four-year status.  

His support did not end with that effort either. He continued to be an ardent and faithful advocate for USCB’s continued growth and development over the last almost 20 years to increase the educational opportunities for the citizens right here in the Lowcountry. Whenever there was a cause, and USCB needed him, the answer was always yes…. he was ready to help.  

Brantley had strong opinions, which he expressed articulately and rationally.  Even when he disagreed with your position, he did so with that genuine smile that radiated warmth and caring. So, you always knew that civility was a necessity in dealing with all things Brantley.  This world could certainly use more of Brantley’s civility today.  

Yes, we lost a good one this past week — one who was revered and loved, respected and admired, esteemed and honored.  He was a statesman and a leader with deep roots in the Lowcountry that led to extraordinary commitments to work for the greater good for all in Beaufort, the Lowcountry and South Carolina. We will miss him greatly.  The greatest honor we can pay to Brantley Harvey’s memory is to become involved to move forward his legacy of commitment to the greater good, especially through education.  

Jane T. Upshaw is a Distinguished Chancellor Emerita from University of South Carolina Beaufort.

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