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A former Lancaster County probate judge died Tuesday after he collapsed while moving a bookshelf at his home.
M.O. “Reecie” Pate, 84, held the office of probate judge in Lancaster County for two terms before retiring in 1994.
He was a U.S. Coast Guard veteran and was retired from the U.S. Postal Service as well. Current Probate Judge Sandra Estridge, who was hired by Pate as a legal clerk in 1989, ran for office after his retirement.
“We were really shocked to hear about this,” Estridge said Wednesday. “We will certainly miss him, and our office is very sad right now. He was a good boss, easy to work for, and he was the kind of person that you just wanted to work hard for.”
Estridge said she deeply appreciated the opportunity Pate gave her when he hired her, and that she didn’t know him before applying for the position.
“I really enjoyed working for him, and he was very supportive of me when I ran for office, and even afterward,” she said. “I appreciated all of his help very much. What I remember most about him is that he was very compassionate and loved helping people. He really enjoyed performing weddings, even after hours, and continued to do that after he retired. There are probably several thousand people that were married during his years in office.”
Lancaster Mayor Joe Shaw remembered Pate as a dedicated employee during his 30-plus years at the post office, and as someone who worked very hard to provide for his family.
“He was a good family man, and was determined to make sure his family was provided for,” Shaw said. “He would work two and three jobs at a time to make sure their needs were met. He’s always been involved in community activities, and served on a couple of city boards. He was always there to help out when he was needed, and I know he’s helped many, many people in various ways over the years. He really cared about his brothers and sisters, and I will always remember how he looked after his family.”
C.D. “Bubber” Gregory, Jr., chairman of Builder’s Supply in Lancaster, said he grew up with Pate and the two went through school together, playing sports like baseball and football together along the way.
“I was certainly sorry to hear about this,” Gregory said Thursday. “He was a great person and I have a lot of fond memories of Reecie. He enjoyed his work and he knew just about everybody in Lancaster County from his time at the post office.”
Pate was a member of Second Baptist Church and is survived by his wife, Marlene Herring Pate, three daughters, nine grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
Funeral services are 11 a.m. today at Second Baptist Church.
Memorial contributions may be made to Second Baptist Church, 1426 Great Falls Highway, Lancaster, SC 29720.
“He was a real people person and just loved everybody,” Gregory said. “I’m sure going to miss him.”