An effort is underway to erect a statue honoring the service of former South Carolina governor Richard “Dick” Riley at a Greenville park.
“The city contacted us and indicated the city would love to see Dick Riley’s life’s work memorialized in the city center as part of its Art in Public Places in the form or an appropriate structure,” longtime Riley associate and friend Frank Holleman told South Carolina Radio Network.
Holleman said a permanent site has not been selected yet but he expects the statue will be installed within the next six months.
“Dick has had a great lifetime of service to Greenville and South Carolina and the country as a whole,” Holleman said. “But what he’ll always be known for most, I think, is his dedication to education for all people, and particularly for all children.”
Holleman, who served as Riley’s deputy when he was U.S. Education Secretary, said the sculpture will reflect Riley’s dedication to education.
“It’s going to be a sculpture of Dick sitting there, dressed informally, reading a book with two children,” he described. “It will invite kids and families to actually interact with the sculpture and have their pictures taken.”
Holleman said the statue will be paid for by private donations. Click here for more information or to donate.
Riley is the only Greenville native to serve both as governor and as a member of a president’s Cabinet. He was South Carolina’s first two-term governor in modern times after citizens voted to amend the state constitution to allow a second term. Riley became known as South Carolina’s “Education Governor.” He is also the only Education Secretary in history to serve a full eight years of the president’s term. In 2009, TIME magazine named Riley one of the “Top 10 Best Cabinet Members” in U.S. history.
“It will also memorialize forever the value that he stood for and that is the participation of everyone in children’s education: parents, the community, business groups, grandparents, all of us,” Holleman said.
Since returning home, he helped establish the Riley Institute at Furman University. He served as chair of the Furman Board of Trustees and continues as an emeritus trustee.