A former state senator who spent four decades representing the area around Greenwood in the Statehouse has died.
Former Senate Majority Leader John Drummond was 96 years old when he passed away Saturday, according to the Harley Funeral Home. His immediate surviving family includes three sons and his wife, Mary Lou.
Drummond was a World War II veteran who survived as a prisoner of war after his fighter plane was shot down over France. He received the Distinguished Flying Cross, nine Air Medals, three Battle Stars, a Presidential Citation, and two Purple Hearts for his actions in the war. After returning from Europe, the Ninety Six native founded several businesses, including the oil distribution company Drummond Oil. He was first elected to the state House as a Democrat in 1965.
Two years later, he won a Senate seat representing Greenwood County and served a total of 42 years in office. He rose to become chairman of the powerful Senate Finance Committee and was the Democrats’ final Senate President pro tempore before Republicans won control of the chamber in 2001. He retired in 2008, highly respected by members of both parties. His portrait is among those that hang in the Senate Chamber.
State Sen. Nikki Setzler, D-Lexington, said it was a “privilege” serving with Drummond. “He was a true American hero of World War II who dedicated his life to serving his nation, his state and the people of Greenwood County,” Setzler said in a statement. “He was a statesman in every sense of the word who put his God, his family and his country above all else. Rest in peace, my dear friend.”
Drummond was chairman of the State Reorganization Committee, which attempted to make South Carolina’s government more efficient. He also played a critical role in brokering a 2000 compromise that removed the Confederate battle flag from the Statehouse dome and onto the grounds. The flag was later removed from the grounds completely following another vote in 2015.