Clay Brittain, Jr.
Born December 18, 1929
Golf and Myrtle Beach –- for some the sport and the South Carolina resort town are synonymous. One of the people responsible for pairing the two with the type of success worthy of a major title is Clay Brittain, Jr.
Clay was part of a group of hotel owners who formed Myrtle Beach National in 1971. At that time, too few golf courses and tee times prevented a tourism push to bring golfers to the Grand Strand. With Clay at the lead, the company built and acquired multiple golf courses, including three designed by Arnold Palmer. Myrtle Beach National expanded over the years to include 15 golf courses and accommodations and packages for golfers from around the world.
Clay believed if they built it, the golfers would come, but they had to know about it first. So Clay and a number of other golf course owners pooled their resources to promote and advertise Myrtle Beach Golf. They formed Golf Holiday, and Clay served as the president.
At Clay’s 2009 induction into the Myrtle Beach Golf Hall of Fame, Pete Pearce said of his friend and colleague: “Clay was a driving force behind the success of Myrtle Beach National and it would not be the company it is today without his leadership.”
Clay’s path to the greens and success wasn’t always an easy one. He was born in Winston-Salem, N.C. in 1929. As a child, he was a paper boy and soda jerk at the local drugstore fountain counter. He took a summer job when he was 15 working for his uncle’s construction crew building the Chesterfield Inn in Myrtle Beach. He found Myrtle Beach and the hospitality industry intriguing.
The summer after his first year of college at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Clay started a business venture in Myrtle Beach, Clay’s Beach Service. He rented beach umbrellas and chairs to hotel guests and lifeguarded during the day. At night he served as a desk clerk at the Chesterfield Inn.
Clay Brittain, Jr., was a driving force behind establishing Myrtle Beach as a prominent golf destination. He knew if he built it, they would come.
Left: Clay Brittain, Jr. and Kenny Rogers at Myrtle Beach National
Right: Clay Brittain, Jr., second from left, and Greg Norman present a donation to Habitat for Humanity.
In 1951, Clay contracted polio and was confined to a hospital for four months. He never finished his final year of college, but he became manager of the Chesterfield Inn at the age of 21.
Clay and his uncle purchased the Second Avenue fishing pier in 1953. In 1954, Hurricane Hazel hit Myrtle Beach and destroyed the pier. Undeterred, they swapped what was left of the pier for an oceanfront cottage that they turned into a restaurant. The restaurant was meant to be a temporary venture, but five decades later the Sea Captain’s House still serves some of the best seafood in Myrtle Beach and is still owned by the Brittain family.
Life hasn’t been all business for Clay. He also has served on the board of the Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce and the local school board, he was a member of the Coastal Carolina Education Foundation and Epworth Children’s Home in Columbia, and he is credited with establishing the PGA golf degree at Coastal Carolina University. In 2001, the school honored his contributions to the community by establishing the Clay Brittain, Jr. Center for Resort Tourism. In 2000, Clay also received the Order of the Palmetto, South Carolina’s highest civilian honor, from Gov. Jim Hodges.
Left: Clay Brittain, Jr., receives commendation from Dave DeCenzo, dean of Coastal Carolina University’s business school.
Right: Clay Brittain, Jr. receives the Don Rossi Award from Walt Lankau of the National Golf Course Owners Association.
Clay and his wife Pat raised three sons and one daughter. Today, two of the sons, Matthew and Clay, are involved with the businesses their father started. Their father is now retired, but he still enjoys coming up with new ideas.
Matthew says he witnessed and learned from his father’s strong sense of customer service, strong work ethic and integrity.
“He is extremely outgoing,” says Matthew. “He loves to talk to people about Myrtle Beach.”
Edgar Alton (Eddie) Buck, Sr.
Born July 23, 1941
Young people come to Edgar Alton Buck, Sr., full of questions: What should they do? How should they do it? How do they become successful like Mr. Buck?
Eddie welcomes the questions and the opportunity to council others. He shares with them what he’s learned in a career that has spanned more than four decades, the lessons he’s learned as a mortgage banker, entrepreneur and owner of businesses ranging from lumber supply to storage facilities. He talks to them about the value of public service and volunteering. He may even give them advice he received from his own mentors, like Hugh Lane Sr, Bob Royall, Hootie Johnson, and Charlie Way, all of whom are also members of the South Carolina Business Hall of Fame.
“Today, it’s a matter of how hard you want to work,” says Eddie. “I tell them if you are willing to work hard and stay focused you should have a very successful career. I council them that it is important to give back to the community.”
Eddie knows of what he speaks. When he was young he talked to his father about the path he should take in life. The world was changing with credit and banking taking a bigger role, his father told him. Eddie listened.
Eddie graduated from East Carolina University with a bachelor’s in business. He served in the Coast Guard. Then he followed his father’s advice and went into mortgage banking. Eddie was a quick study. In six years he moved up the ranks from manager-trainee at Carolina National Mortgage Investment Company to executive vice president of Citizens and Southern National Bank of South Carolina.
In 1975, Eddie and his wife Margaret purchased a small lumber supply company on James Island. At the time the company’s annual sales were less than $1 million. By 2006, Buck Lumber sales had reached $49 million a year.
Over the years, with hard work and focus, Eddie built a diversified portfolio of companies, including Jupiter Holdings, the parent company of Buck Management, Stockade Storage, Sonic Drive-In, Bojangles, Super Suds Carwash, Buck Lumber and Blue Water Convenience Stores. He is responsible for the employment of more than 250 people.
This is not a responsibility Eddie takes lightly. He has always valued people and relationships. He’s proud to point out he has employees who have been with him for more than four decades. He’s known for empowering his employees with training and rewarding them with incentives, while making sure they can serve their customers with the latest technology available.
When his daughter Susanne was a child, Eddie Buck never missed an event she was participating in. Family always came first.
Left: The Bucks at Buck Family Design Center
Right: Eddie Buck, far right, with his family at daughter Susanne’s wedding
Helping build the community and serve others is also part of Eddie’s life philosophy. Eddie has volunteered and chaired boards for more than a dozen organizations, from the MUSC Hollings Cancer Center to the Windwood Farm School for Boys. In the civic arena, he answered the call of four South Carolina governors – Riley, Campbell, Beasley and Hodges – serving on and chairing the State Railroad Commission and the State Ports Authority Commission. He also was elected to a four-year term on the Charleston County Council. Eddie’s fond reflections of his elected service include successful advocacy for the County Parks and EMS systems. “These two achievements positively affected the quality of life for all Charleston County residents,” he maintains.
An editorial in the Charleston Post and Courier in 2001 said of Eddie’s involvement in the Ports Authority: “In his two years as chairman of the State Ports Authority, Eddie Buck has achieved commendable progress in making the agency as responsive to the local community as it historically has been to its customers in the shipping industry.”
Eddie’s career had its ups and downs. Not every venture was successful. The downturn in the economy in the 1980s put a stop to any expansion of Buck Lumber. So he decided to diversify and purchased Kiawah Island General Store. Today, Bluewater Convenience Stores continues to grow, with 13 retail sites and a gasoline distribution service.
Left: Eddie Buck, right, enjoys one of his favorite pastimes, sport fishing for marlin.
Right:Eddie Buck with Margaret Brown Buck
In the late 80s Eddie also ventured into the self-storage business. Stockade Storage now operates 18 facilities with more than one million square feet of storage space in South Carolina, Georgia and Florida.
Early in his career Eddie married Margaret Brown, one of the first female attorneys practicing in South Carolina. He counts that decision among the best he’s ever made. As a partner, friend and mother, Eddie gives his wife the highest marks. He also has appreciated her legal expertise throughout the years. “She’s kept me out of a lot of trouble,” says Eddie, laughing.
While Eddie and Margaret grew their businesses they also grew their family, raising two children, Susanne Buck Cantey and Eddie Buck, Jr. Both children now serve in leadership positions for Jupiter Holdings.
Susanne remembers her father always taking an active role in the family. “As a child my father never missed a play, tennis match or any other event I was participating in,” says Susanne. “Family always came first.”
Family time also included her father’s favorite activity of sport fishing for marlin on his boat Rookie IV and more than a few intense games of Monopoly.
“My father makes everything fun and puts so much love into everything he does,” says Susanne. “If he does something – whether it’s through his work, volunteering or a project – he does it the right way.”
Susanne and Eddie, Jr. are among many who see the impact that their father has made on others. He has won awards, citations and honors for his efforts, yet his motivation has little to do with certificates or plaques.
“Eddie Buck is a model of an entrepreneur who understands the blending of doing well and doing good,” says former S.C. Gov. James B. Edwards.
John Charles (J.C.) Long
Born September 19, 1903
Died July 9, 1984
John Charles (J.C.) Long lived unafraid of taking risks. He built a career on seeing possibility where others saw difficulty. He found solutions when others were stymied by the status-quo. In his career, he argued points of law, built companies and embraced measured change. J.C.’s business prowess and vision literally changed the landscape of South Carolina.
J.C. was born in Pensacola, Fla., but moved to Charleston with his family when he was a teenager. His industrious streak shone from a young age. He sold peanuts at ball games, managed a concession stand and worked his first construction job when he was 16.
He sharpened his leadership skills while balancing athletics and academic achievement. He excelled in high school football while attending Charleston High School. While attending the University of South Carolina, he lettered in baseball, basketball and football. According to his family he led the Gamecock football team as captain in 1925. While at USC, J.C. earned a bachelor’s degree and law degree. His loyalty to his alma mater lasted throughout his life, and he later served as a USC trustee.
Several years after graduation, he established his own law office in Charleston. He became one of the state’s leading personal injury lawyers and fought the first asbestos case in South Carolina. He was known as a gifted orator, who dramatically argued cases in front of packed courtrooms.
While law was his first passion, J.C.’s legacy grew as he branched out into civic leadership and development.
He was elected to the S.C. senate from Charleston County at the age of 27. He served one term. He served on the S.C. Highway Commission, was appointed to the Educational Finance Commission at the request of then Gov. James F. Byrnes and was a specially appointed judge in the Court of Common Pleas.
The same year J.C. became a legislator, he also established himself as an influential real estate developer. His first project, Ashley Forest, made residential housing available west of the Ashley River, a rarity at the time.
J.C. Long lived unafraid of taking risks and built his career on seeing possibility where others saw difficulty.
With a vision for housing, both residential and vacation, for returning World War II soldiers, J.C. purchased 1,300 acres on the Isle of Palms. He founded the Beach Company to operate the development. He paved roads, built bridges and brought in municipal services, such as water and trash collection, to the sea island. The Beach Company remains a thriving real estate development company, still family held, now led by his grandson John Darby.
“He had an uncanny ability to forecast what people wanted in lifestyles and what communities should provide to meet those needs that would be consistent with the character of local culture and ever mindful of market conditions,” says Charlie Way, who knew J.C. in several capacities including as mentor, boss and father-in-law.
When J.C.’s health began failing in the mid-1970s, Charlie became his successor as president of The Beach Company.
J.C. became the largest single property owner in all of Charleston County. He built the first high-rise residential building in Charleston, the 14-story Sergeant Jasper Apartments. He followed it up with similar units across South Carolina and others in Georgia, North Carolina and Alabama.
In 1963, J.C.’s love of law and real estate intersected at the corner of Broad and Meeting Streets in Charleston, known as the “Four Corners of Law.” In 1963, private investors nearly purchased the Timrod Inn building. This would have prevented the expansion of the Charleston County Courthouse at its original site. J.C. purchased the property with personal funds and sold it to the county at the same price. The courthouse expanded on that site.
It’s been said that J.C. understood the basics of the American free enterprise system and mastered them in his lifetime. Beyond real estate, J.C. founded the State Savings and Loan Association, later known as South Carolina Federal, the Old Charleston Insurance Company, the Isle of Palms Water Company and the Worth Company.
J.C. and his wife, Alberta Sottile Long, had two daughters, Joyce Carolyn, who married Dr. Charles P. Darby, retired chair of the Pediatric Department of MUSC, and Mary Ellen, who married Charlie Way. He was the proud grandfather of ten.
J.C. lived to be 80 years old and his life can be traced through achievements and success in everything from athletics to land development, law to banking. Yet, if he were alive today he likely would talk more about others than himself or his business success. He’d talk about friends, neighbors, associates and family.
His daughters say, “Our family was the center of his life, and he gave each of us his unequivocal love, support, unending interest, and wise counsel.”