Sumter men in glider training; superintendent Derthick dies

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75 YEARS AGO - 1942

July 3-9

The rumor is circulating among some persons in Sumter, it has been learned, that tomorrow night's blackout will be made more realistic by the actual dropping of bombs. Mayor F.B. Creech, head of the Sumter County Council for defense, has hastened this morning to reassure the populace that no bombs of any sort would be dropped. He added, however, that citizens should conduct themselves during the blackouts as if there were danger of bombing and that volunteer workers will deal with cases of imaginary bombing during the hour-long period of darkness.

• Dinkins Mill House was washed 300 feet from its base by pond waters that rose 17 feet from torrential rains. A hundred-foot gap was cut through the dam of the pond, and water over the nearby road was reported as deep as six feet. Jimmy Dinkins of the Carolina Hardware Co., whose brothers, J.B. and William C. Dinkins, are owners of the pond, told an Item reporter this morning that the pond had been practically drained before the rains and that the flood gate had been wide open. It was the second time since 1928 that the mill house has been washed away. The 12-inch rain that swelled the Dinkins mill waters also made impassable several roads in the Hagood section and washed away at least one bridge between Horatio and Hagood.

• Eight Sumter men who enlisted at Shaw Field for glider pilot training left for Randolph Field, Texas, to begin their course of instruction, officials at the Army's basic flying school announced today. Representing Sumter in the first contingent of glider trainees are Robert N. Boykin, William H. Brown, John W. Chastain, Jackson L. DuBose, William C. Harrison, William Moody, Walter S. Osborne and Charles P. Osteen.

• Sumter is receiving some kind of national recognition because one of the county's natives has allegedly betrayed his country. Although the publicity isn't the kind one would like to paste in a scrapbook, it's publicity just the same. Robert Henry Best, native of Sumter County and son of a Methodist minister, embarked upon a journalistic career and went to Europe. There he remained until a few months ago, when he along with other Americans were brought out of the Nazi interment and carried to Portugal, where they were exchanged for German civilians. But Best left the crowd and went back to "Vienna," according to an Associated Press dispatch, "to marry a Vienna woman." Recently a voice said by Berlin to be that of Robert Henry Best has been ridiculing Americans over the Berlin short-wave radio station. Many Sumterites have heard the broadcast. Whether Berlin is faking the voice is not really known, but some admit it's a good facsimile if not the real voice of Best.

• The courthouse crowd had its first watermelon cutting of the season on July 3. The host of the occasion was S.L. Young Sr. of Dalzell and one of the registrars at the courthouse, who received a 75-pound melon by express as a present from J.D. Jenkins, formerly of Rembert and a friend of Young who is now a merchant at Furman.

50 YEARS AGO - 1967

April 3-9

Sumter's track team has had only four dual meets this season, but already four new records have been set en route to the Birds' perfect 4-0 mark. A year ago Coach Bill Painter led Sumter to a record of 10 wins against only one defeat and a fourth-place finish in the state's 22-member triple-A conference. This year the Gamecocks look like they may do even better. One of the big reasons for the Gamecocks' surge is the running of junior Sammy Gibson, who also plays football. The lightning-fast 150-pounder set a new record in the 440-yard dash by touring the oval in 51.9. The team has several record-holder athletes - Eddie Connor, Pete Brown, Sammy Way, Dwayne Windham, Frank Matthews, Jimmy Scales, Wayne Davis, Hamp Norris and others make this team one of the very best and a contender for the state title.

• The best way to describe Sumter's baseball Gamecocks this spring is Yo-Yo, for that's the kind of attack they have shown so far - an up-and-down attack. The team was up for this outing as Cleve Marsh went all the way on the mound for the Birds to record his second win of the year against no defeats, giving up just three hits, fanning six and walking only one. The Gamecock with the biggest bat was right-fielder Lewis Beverly who connected for three hits, including a big triple.

• When a business survives for more than 100 years, operating under the same name and dealing in the same service, it would have to have good management. That is what the Sumter Insurance Agency has had since it was founded in 1866 by Anthony White. We did not know Mr. White, as he came a little before our time, but he must have had plenty on the ball, as his firm prospered from the start. We did know most of his successors, including Perry Moses Sr., Robert D. Graham, father of Mayor R.E. Graham, and his widow, Mrs. Martha Wilson Graham, now president of Sumter's Golden Age Club and the present owner, Hugh C. McLaurin.

• Legislation has been passed by the General Assembly revising the boundaries of all voting precincts in Sumter and Sumter County. The bill was introduced by State Sen. Henry B. Richardson after the new boundaries had been worked out by a special committee he appointed, the city and county planning staff and the County Legislative Delegation.

• Reese Dabbs knocked in three runs to spark Mayewood to a conference 5-B win over Furman at the Rebels' home field. The win upped Mayewood's record to 2-1, while Furman is now 1-1 on the season.

• Sen. Ernest F. Hollings today announced the approval of $410,000 for military construction at Shaw Air Force Base. The announcement, however, did not specify the project approved.

• When the Citadel's 120-piece marching band including its famous bagpipers arrives for Sumter's Iris Festival, Cadet Joe McElveen will be leading the show. Cadet McElveen, son of Mr. and Mrs. J.T. McElveen, was selected as the new drum major from the rising senior class at The Citadel.

• "Mr. Bland and the Iris Gardens" will be the topic of a paper by Mrs. W.J. Snyder Jr. that will be read at the meeting of Sumter County Historical Society.

• The age-old battle of the Fords vs. Chevrolets will prevail when the first race of the season gets underway at Sumter Raceway. Almost a dozen each of Chevys and Fords will line up for the late-model sportsman race. Local drivers to keep an eye on are: Jimmy Allsbrook, Lee Johnson, H.C. Pritchard, Robbie Hynes, Robert Kirby, Ray McCoy and others.

25 YEARS AGO - 1992

Jan. 2-8

Sumter School District 17's Board of Trustees appointed Dr. Andrena Ray acting superintendent in a unanimous vote taken at a special trustee meeting. Ray, the district's assistant superintendent for instruction, will assume the superintendency and serve temporarily while Superintendent Dr. Lawrence Derthick is recuperating from heart surgery at Duke University Hospital. "My immediate priority would be to provide stability and continuity so that the district's business and instruction can go on as necessary," Ray said.

• Administrators at the University of South Carolina Sumter won't ask the Commission on Higher Education for four-year status because of a snag in the school's preparation for the hearing. USC administrators will instead ask for a postponement of the scheduled hearing, said Dr. Thomas Lisk, USC Sumter's associate dean of academic affairs.

• Sumter County Library is one of 30 South Carolina public libraries to receive money from a $122,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. The grant was awarded recently to members of the Association of Public Library Administrators for presenting "Let's Talk About It" programs in public libraries across the state. "Let's Talk About It" is a humanities-based reading and discussion program developed by the American Library Association for out-of-school adults who enjoy reading and want to talk with others about what they have read.

• Sumter's Tuomey Regional Medical Center has implemented a health and fitness program it hopes will result in lower health insurance costs for local businesses. The Wellness program, directed by Tuomey health education coordinator Tom Rolen, is designed to teach employers and their employees ways to improve their health and work environment and offer them incentives to take better care of themselves.

• Sumter School District 17 Superintendent Dr. Lawrence G. Derthick Jr., 63, died at Duke University Hospital in Durham, North Carolina. "Dr. Derthick's death is a loss to the Sumter community because not only was he an outstanding spokesman for education, but also because he was a leader who worked to improve our community in many other ways," said Dr. Laura Ayers, chairwoman of the District 17 board of trustees.

• Department of Social Services head James Solomon, having endured another tongue lashing from board members, said he will decide by next month whether to resign. "I'm considering all my options," he said after a lengthy board meeting. Solomon has clashed with DSS board members at nearly every meeting since last summer. The clashes increased when the Legislative Audit Council criticized the agency for failing to protect children adequately and for having too many administrators.

• E. Murr Hall, 105, widower of Lenora Williford Hall, died Monday, Jan. 6, at Hampton Nursing Center. He was a lifelong member of Trinity United Methodist Church, where he served with the chancel choir and was a charter member of the McLeod Wesley Bible Class. He was also a charter member of Sumter Kiwanis Club and an honorary member of the Fortnightly Club. He was the bookkeeper for O.L. Williams Veneer Co. and the Williams family for about 60 years. He retired at 90.

• Furman High School's gym generally is not a good place to show up at less than full strength. But the loss of a couple of players because of disciplinary problems as well as head coach Harold Galloway had no effect on Bishopville as the Dragons defeated the Indians 72-67 in the region opener for the two teams favored to dominate Region III-2A this season. "When you come to Furman you know you're going to be in for a fight," said Bishopville's Mac McClary, who took over when Galloway was unable to make the trip due to illness. "We believe that the road to the (region) championship goes through Bishopville and Furman this year."

• Sumter City Council members will elect a mayor pro-tem. And while Mayor Steve Creech has said he does not know who will be elected, he said today no council members have expressed interest in taking the job away from the current mayor pro-tem - the Rev. William S. Randolph. Randolph, who has held the post for the past two years, will probably run unopposed. "Historically, the city council elects its new mayor pro-tem at the beginning of every year," City Manager Talmadge Tobias said today.

Reach Sumter Item Archivist Sammy Way at waysammy@yahoo.com or (803) 774-1221.