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As the S.C. 9 traffic whizzed by, I was thinking maybe Mr. Williams did too good of a job as resident maintenance engineer for Lancaster County.
Mr. Williams, as I knew him, is the late Steve Clyburn Williams Jr., who worked 40 years with the S.C. Department of Transportation to make sure county roads were in good shape.
The way the nearby traffic rumbled by the Lancaster headquarters of the SCDOT, it was a challenge to hear.
Busy S.C. 9, sometimes known as the mountain-to-the-sea highway, runs just past the building, which now bears Mr. Williams’ name following a fitting dedication ceremony earlier this month.
The traffic was a bit noisy, but it wasn’t enough to block the needed message about a man who dedicated half his life to make transportation a top priority in the county.
Lancaster Major Joe Shaw, who knew Mr. Williams from childhood, said finding a bad road in the county was about as rare as hearing a negative word about him.
“I never heard any bad comments about him,” said Shaw, who hailed Mr. Williams with the ultimate compliment – “a gentleman’s gentleman.”
“He was well-liked,” Shaw said.
Shaw knew Williams was a good man from a young age.
“He took me to a Carolina football game when I was just a kid,” Shaw said. “We had good seats and some good food and he even gave me a couple of dollars and that was a lot of money back in the 1950s.
“I knew then Steve Williams was a man I needed to get to know.”
Shaw did for obvious reasons.
“Ninety-five percent of the roads in the city belong to the highway department,” Shaw said.
Mr. Williams knew the community and that was a key reason he did his job so well.
“He knew the people because he lived with them,” said Stan Bland Jr., former SCDOT Fourth District engineering administrator, who presided over the ceremony. “Steve is what you look for in a resident maintenance engineer.”
Mr. Williams’ top task was making sure the county road system was under quality care, but his caring went deeper. He was a civic-minded person and lived it.
“I never knew a person so dedicated,” Shaw said.
In addition to his SCDOT work, Mr. Williams served as director of the county recreation commission, president of the Lancaster County Chamber of Commerce and director of the Lancaster County Housing Authority.
One major facility, which still stands as a sterling reminder of Mr. Williams’ dedication and quality work, is Lancaster Memorial Stadium.
The late Lester Robinson, former managing editor at The Lancaster News, told me more than once how former Lancaster City Schools Superintendent Dr. G.T. Myers enlisted Mr. Williams’ help in the construction of the facility, now in its 44th season of play.
I couldn’t help think of Mr. Williams later that evening when I covered Lancaster High School’s home clash with Rock Hill.
The arena, set against a natural backdrop, is still one of the best venues for high school football in our state.
As I looked at the familiar white walls on the field level, I recalled some old photos, that were circulated during a special luncheon, hosted by Molly Player, who worked with Mr. Williams, after the dedication ceremony. The old photos, among others, featured some of the stadium’s early construction.
Not far from the stadium is another special place in the community, where Mr. Williams played a key role. That’s First Presbyterian Church, where my family and I developed a long relationship with Mr. Williams and his family.
Mr. Williams and I served together on the building and grounds committee, where he devoted 40 years to making our church what it is in the community. Mr. Williams and his family have certainly been a blessing to our church.
Now there’s another building, one which most deservedly sports his name, to stand as a lasting tribute to Mr. Williams.
“He was a mentor to me,” Bland said. “There was a lot of cooperation by a lot of people because it was a good thing to have this done.
“When I think of this building, I will think of Steve,” he said. “This is the one he built.”
Ditto, and I can add another.
When you travel across Lancaster County, think of Steve Clyburn Williams Jr.
He set a high standard for quality travel here with his best work.