NINETY SIX -- John W. Drummond, 96, "The Senator from Ninety Six", widower of Holly Self Drummond, died on Saturday, September 3, 2016, at his home.
Born in Ninety Six, he was a son of the late James William and Fannie Mae Smith Drummond. A graduate of Ninety Six High School, he spent his early years working in the Greenwood Mills plants. During World War II, he served in the US Air Force as a captain, flying the powerful P-47 Thunderbolt fighter plane as part of the 405th Fighter Bomber Group in England, France and Germany. Among his 47 missions, he provided close air support to the troops invading Normandy on D-Day. A month later, he was taken prisoner near the town of Gieville and served the last ten months of the war in a German POW Camp. Years later, Drummond was invited to return to Gieville to celebrate the 50th anniversary of D-Day. He was honored with a parade and the dedication of a memorial and settlement named in his honor. "Ace" Drummond was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, two Purple Hearts, nine Air Medals, three Battle Stars and a Presidential Citation.
After establishing two successful businesses in Greenwood – Drummond Oil Company and Greenwood Petroleum Company – he sought public office in the South Carolina General Assembly.
Drummond was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1965, and two years later, voters elected him to the first of 10 consecutive terms in the Senate, serving District 10, Abbeville and Greenwood counties. Over the years, he worked his way up the ladder in the Senate, chairing committees on Interstate Cooperation; Ethics; Labor, Commerce and Industry; Fish, Game and Forestry and in 1993, he became chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. In 1996, he was elected President Pro Tempore of the Senate, the highest position a state senator can hold. When the emerging Republican majority in the Senate cost him his two senior positions of authority in 2001, Drummond's colleagues of both parties created a special position of honor for him, President Pro Tempore Emeritus and at that time, commissioned Michael Del Priore to render a portrait of Senator Drummond, which hangs in the Senate Chamber.
He also served as chairman of joint legislative committees – the Committee to Study Certain Issues Affecting Veterans of South Carolina and the Armed Forces of the US Veterans Monument Commission.
He was a special international emissary on behalf of the state and has been particularly active in state partnerships with Queensland, Australia, and Rhineland-Palatinate Germany, where his experience in World War II and long legislative experience gave him special attention and status.
For a South Carolinian who never had a college education, his leadership earned the particular attention and respect of the higher education community and he received honorary degrees from Clemson University, The Citadel, The University of South Carolina, Medical University of South Carolina and Lander University. He also received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Erskine College. In 1994, "The John Drummond Complex" was dedicated at Lander and "The John W. Drummond Engineering Industrial Technologies Center" was dedicated at Piedmont Technical College.
Over the years, Senator Drummond has had numerous awards presented to him, including Distinguished Service Awards, Certificates of Appreciation, Legislator of the Year and Senator of the Year from many organizations. In 1992, he was inducted in the Greenwood County Hall of Fame and received The Order of the Palmetto by Governor Carroll A. Campbell. In 2005, the Riley Institute at Furman University presented him with the inaugural Wilkins Award for Excellence in Legislative Leadership.
Following the death of his wife of 53 years in 1999, he devoted special attention to the cross-state Palmetto Trail, one of whose education centers bears the name of John and Holly Drummond. In January 2003, the John Drummond and Holly Self Drummond Environmental Education and Conference Center opened its doors at the Lake Greenwood State Park Recreation Area. The Drummond Center completed the vision for Greenwood State Park, which was devised more than 60 years before and stands as a memorial to the Drummonds because of their commitment to conservation, the environment, and to the legacy of the Civilian Conservation Corps.
He was a lifelong member and deacon of First Baptist Church of Ninety Six, where he was a member of the Men's Bible Class. He served as former president of the Lions Club; Worshipful Master of the Eureka Lodge No. 48, 32nd Degree Mason Shriner; commander of the American Legion; past member of the Board of Trustees of the College of Charleston and past member of the Board of Visitors for Clemson University.
Surviving are three sons, John H. "Brick" Drummond and his wife, Mary Lou, Richard S. "Dick" Drummond and Robert S. "Bob" Drummond; a granddaughter, Holly Ann Drummond Robbins and her husband, Wesley; a grandson, Elliott Gage Drummond and many much loved nieces and nephews.
Services will be at 3 p.m. on Wednesday at First Baptist Church of Ninety Six with the Rev. Chuck Sprouse and the Rev. Calvin Holland officiating. Burial, with military honors, will be in Elmwood Cemetery.
Pallbearers will be Bob Merritt, Richard Young, Kenny Long, Dan Gregory, Rudy Brown and Drummond Young.
Honorary escort will be Russ Cooke, Carol Cheek, Jennifer Cobb, Kathie Leary Marsh, Tealee Keeno, Sarah Christian, Ann Overholt, Fred and Margie Wright, Jim Daniels, Craig White and Parker White.
The family will receive friends at the church on Wednesday from 1 to 3 p.m.
Memorials may be made to Hospice House, HospiceCare of the Piedmont, 408 W. Alexander Avenue, Greenwood, SC 29646; Elmwood Cemetery Association, PO Box 345, Ninety Six, SC 29666 or to the John & Holly Drummond Scholarship, c/o Lander University, 320 Stanley Avenue, Greenwood, SC 29646.
Harley Funeral Home & Crematory of Greenwood is in charge of arrangements.