Saturday, December 19, 2020


A few years ago, I received an honor from my alma mater, the University of South Carolina College of Arts and Sciences. I was particularly grateful that Don Fowler was in attendance. In the ceremony, I reflected on my time at USC. I talked about my great professors, and especially Don "who combined the best of academia and a keen real- world understanding, and who encouraged my involvement in campaigns and political organizations". Even after leaving South Carolina for DC, it was my good fortune to continue to cross paths with Don. He was not just a wonderful professor but had a long list of other accomplishments including service as the Chair and Executive Director of the SC Democratic Party, National Chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), and CEO of the Democratic National Convention in 1988. He had a distinguished career in the military (Colonel- US Army Reserve) and was also a successful business owner (government affairs/communciations). Despite his own amazing career and powerful positions, he had a unique, God given ability to make whomever he was with (including every student he ever taught) feel important and valued. He regularly called me about some student of his who wanted to work in DC. He would give that student a glowing reference and ask if I could meet with him/her to give career advice, help with their "networking", and help with their job search in DC. Of course, I always obliged, because Don did the same for me, and for so many others too. He was "linked in" personified well before "Linked In! He was always generous with his time, and was an inspiration in his willingness to help others on their paths in life. He was a mentor to me from the mid-70's all the way up to his recent passing. In fact, I needed some of his advice/guidance just two weeks ago . I emailed him and we also talked by phone. He said he was weak from the chemo treatments. He said: "I don't get around much these days" and the leukemia had "required a reordering of my life." Don, who was always positive, then added: " I still can do a lot of things" but he was disappointed that he "had to drop my classes at USC". He then reminded me that he had been at "Carolina since 1964."
I thank God that I had the opportunity at the end of our call to tell him how grateful I was for all he had done for me, and what he had meant to me for so many years. He was a great educator, a wonderful, loyal friend, a distinguished military leader, and an eternal optimist who always looked for the good in people (even Republicans!). We lost a great American this week, but his positive impact on the lives of so many will continue for many years to come. I join many others who are giving thanks for the life and significant contributions of Don Fowler.

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