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Reflections on state Sen. Pinckney

The shooting death last Wednesday of state Sen. Clementa Pinckney at Charleston’s Emanuel AME Church stunned the community and those throughout the state. Many people expressed condolences:

• Jasper County Chairwoman Barbara Clark: “This is just so sad, we would have never expected anything like this in a thousand years and our prayers go out to the families and especially the wife and two small children. I just can’t stop thinking about them waking up on Sunday morning and it’s Father’s Day and there’s no father. How do you explain this, how? Senator Pinckney has been an icon for Jasper County. People look up to him, people respect him and he was an advocate for the poor people, more or less, in our state.”

• Ridgeland mayor Joey Malphrus: “It’s such a tragedy. He was such a great speaker, with a strong, powerful voice.”

• Duffie Stone, 14th Circuit Solicitor’s Office: “I had the privilege of working with Sen. Clementa Pinckney over the last several years, particularly in the area of public safety for the poorer counties that we shared throughout the Fourteenth Circuit. He was always thoughtful, caring and focused on what was best for the people of our state. He was a true gentleman. South Carolina has lost a great leader and a great friend.”

• Rep. Bill Bowers: “In South Carolina today we are devastated.... Among those murdered was the pastor of the church who is also my dear friend and colleague, Senator Clementa Pinckney. What I do know is that Rev. Senator Pinckney is a martyr — someone devoted to his beliefs and faith. Senator Pinckney’s commanding presence and amazing leadership were always strong while being unfailingly gentle, friendly and thoughtful for all. He always sought to bring joy and love into the hearts of all.”

• Hardeeville mayor Bronco Bostick: “It’s a great loss. It’s one terrible loss. I don’t know if his shoes can ever be filled and we’re hoping to God that we will find someone that can continue to lead Jasper County. He had a strong voice and he would not tell you anything just to be telling you, he was the guy that would tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear.”

• State Rep. Bill Herbkersman, R-Bluffton: “Clem was a longtime public servant, and I consider him a friend. The two of us sometimes probably butted heads more than anyone else, but at the end of the day when we punched out, we could always consider each other friends. And I’ll always have that in mind.”

• Damon Jeter, a lobbyist and Richland County Councilman: “You respected him so much, but he did not require it. “Even if the (Senate chamber) bell was ringing, and if you said, ‘Senator Pinckney,’ he would stop in his tracks and listen to you.”

• Sen. Larry Martin, a Pickens County Republican: “I thought back to the words of a great preacher, which we’ve all known Clem to be, that we don’t know what the future holds. But we know who holds the future. Clem claimed that promise. He lived that promise out.”

• Sheree Darien, Ridgeland: “Well done are the words that immediately flood my mind when I think of Senator Pinckney. His very life and legacy inspires me to continue to serve both the community and the church at large.”

• Marty Sauls, Jasper County Council: “I can tell you, I’m at a loss for words. He grew up here, part of our community, not only a well-respected political leader, pastor, word of God, if you can’t be safe in the house of the lord where can you be safe? He was very motivated, always enthusiastic, eager to help, dependable, every where you went he had a smile on his face, he knew your name, took time to shake your hand, he always asked how you were, how your family was doing, he took time to help. He was a local boy that grew up in Ridgeland, his family is from here, he was a kind hearted person that truly cared about people.”

• Kathleen Wilson, Hardeeville resident and Pinckney’s teacher at Ridgeland Middle School in 1982-83: “He was one of my best students. His mother was such a gracious and helpful supporter of education. Her support made such a difference in helping me help him. I told him he could be anything he wanted to be.”

• Jasper Legislative Delegation Officer Helen Pittman: “We are greatly saddened for all families involved. We are praying and hoping that calm heads will prevail. This is a huge loss for Jasper County. This is our resident senator and he has the majority representation over our citizens. But not only was this a loss for Jasper County, Sen. Pinckney was a true statesman and this is a loss for the entire state.”

• Renty Kitty, reverend at St. Luke’s Baptist Church in Ridgeland: “He was willing to give his life to serve others. He dedicated his life to serving mankind.”

• Jasper County Sheriff Greg Jenkins: “Sen. Pinckney was a very humble man, but very assertive. He was very concerned about the people he served.”

• Charles Mitchell, Founder of the Concerned Citizens of Jasper County: “After seeing it on the news, it destroyed me because I had just talked to him a couple months ago when we had the Senator for a Day competition at the USCB campus. I talked to him, he was very impressed with young people, and after telling him about what I was doing in the community he told me to keep doing what I was doing. If I ever needed to call him, he gave me his cell phone number, he said even if it was legislation, to give him a call. It didn’t matter if he voted for or against it. He always made me feel like he was right here in Ridgeland even though he works in Columbia. He just inspired me so much to continue to excel.”

• Hardeeville Councilman Mike Sweeney: “It’s a sad loss. He represented Hardeeville, so we’re going to miss him, there’s no question about it, whether you sided with him politically or not. He was a great guy and a force to be reckoned with.”

• Hardeeville Councilman Scott Ready: “We are all heavy-hearted over the heinous crime that took place last night. My prayer is that the community will see this as an opportunity to reconcile and to reunite and that our community will come together rather than allow this to further the division.”

• Scott T. Price, Executive Director-elect of the S.C. School Boards Association: “The entire education community is deeply saddened over the extremely horrendous death of Senator Pinckney and all of the victims in the Emanuel AME Church shooting on Wednesday. Senator Pinckney was a true champion for public education who worked tirelessly to advocate not only for the students in the districts he served but for all of South Carolina’s students. We pray for his family and everyone affected by this senseless crime.”

• Willa Jennings, Chairperson, Allendale County Democratic Party: “This horrible event that led to the Senator’s death is a devastating tragedy for all of Senate District No. 45 and the state of South Carolina. The Senator’s untimely death will be a great loss for our region and indeed for the entire state.”

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