Former Lt. Gov. William Brantley Harvey, Jr., a popular lawmaker whose unsuccessful run for South Carolina’s Governor’s Office ultimately led to decades of service in a non-elected capacity, has died at 88 years old.
Harvey spent 16 years in the South Carolina House throughout the 1960s and early 1970s until his election into the state’s number-two slot in 1974. He served with Gov. James Edwards, the state’s first Republican chief executive in nearly a century, for four years. Harvey then lost in a close 1984 Democratic Party primary for governor, leading the initial primary before finishing behind eventual Gov. Dick Riley in the runoff.
“You’ve got a very rare breed of politician that actually really and truly loves people, loves to be around them and loves to find out how they’re doing, what are they working on and what are their children doing,” State Sen. Tom Davis, who works in Harvey’s family law firm, said. “And Brantley was that person. He truly loved people.”
Harvey was born in Walterboro to former State Sen. Brantley Harvey, Sr., but grew up in Beaufort. He graduated with honors from The Citadel military academy and served in the Army for two years before attending and ultimately graduating from the University of South Carolina Law School.
Throughout his time in politics and afterwards, Harvey worked for his father’s law firm Harvey & Battey.
Beaufort Mayor Billy Keyserling said Harvey was honest and fair, but may be best known for what he did after leaving office, when he was tapped to serve on the Department of Transportation board, Commission on Parks, Recreation and Tourism as vice chairman. He and his wife Helen were major philanthropists, helping the University of South Carolina’s Beaufort County campus to become a four-year degree institution.
“His legacy was really about what he did after leaving the pomp and circumstance of Columbia,” Keyserling said, adding that “it wasn’t above him to volunteer and get appointed to the state Highway Commission.”
There will be a family graveside service on Monday at 10 am followed by an 11 am worship service celebrating his life at First Presbyterian Church of Beaufort.