UNION — A long-time physician whose practice had an impact beyond the boundaries of Union County and a woman whose knowledge of the Clerk of Court’s office and willingness to help others needing its services made her an indispensable and treasured mentor are the latest recipients of the Centennial Cornerstone Award.
On Nov. 14, 2011, the cornerstone of the Union County Courthouse and the time capsule placed inside it when it was laid a century earlier were opened. During the ceremony, Dora Martin, Union County Council member, and Col. William J. Whitener, president emeritus of the Union County Historical Society, were presented with the Centennial Cornerstone Award by Union County Supervisor Tommy Sinclair. The award honored Martin and Whitener for their service to the community.
Since then, the plaques presented to Martin and Whitener have been on display on in the lobby of the Union County Courthouse.
On Wednesday, the number of plaques on the wall increased from two to four when Sinclair announced that Dr. Kent Switzer and the late Jane Arthur as this year’s recipients of the Centennial Cornerstone Award.
Sinclair presented Switzer, a World War veteran and long-time local physician, with the award, citing his record of service to the community, the state and the nation.
“Dr. Paul K. Switzer is a man who served our nation as a brave soldier in World War II,” Sinclair said. “Dr. Switzer won the Silver Star in World War II. He was in three different campaigns, he was there for three years.
“He served this state as a distinguished medical educator and leader in the medical field,” he said. “Dr. Switzer practiced medicine for over half a century in Union. From a medical point of view he is certainly one of the cornerstones and foundations of this community. We are pleased to be able to pay tribute to him.”
Sinclair added that in addition to his medical practice and service in the military, Switzer also “invested in mankind in numerous ways as a Rotarian and through time and financial resources. Without a question, in a life that approaches nearly a century of living, he has given more than he has received, pulled his share of the load, and continued to improve his community, state, and nation.”
The Centennial Cornerstone Award was the latest of the honors Switzer has received over the years, including the Order of the Palmetto Award in 2011.
In issuing the award, Gov. Nikki Haley wrote Switzer’s “entire life and career have been marked by a strong level of commitment to our state. Your extensive research on important health issues, such as sickle cell anemia and rheumatic fever, has not gone unnoticed and we are deeply appreciative for all you have done. In the world of making a positive difference, you been an incredibly effective leader to your patients and colleagues — as an educator, physician, and friend. You have been a great asset to the field of academic medicine and are privileged to have you in South Carolina … your countless contributions to our citizens will have a lasting impact on South Carolina for many years to come.”
Clerk of Court Freddie Gault handled the presentation for Arthur who died Oct. 15, 2012 after decades of working in the law offices of her husband, the late James M. Arthur, and then for the law firm of All & Frost.
Gault said that Arthur’s work on behalf of those law firms brought her to his office every day, but that even as she was handling those duties, she would take time out to help others, sharing her vast knowledge of the clerk’s office and its records with them.
“She was just a sweet and Christian lady who has helped so many people over the years,” Gault said. “She was in the Clerk of Court’s Office usually when we opened and was there until we closed at five o’clock every day. Usually the only day she would be late was Thursday when she had her hair fixed.
“She did research for the attorneys, but if anybody came in doing research she’d stop what she was doing and help them,” he said. “There will never be anyone with the knowledge of the records and documents in my office like Miss Jane. I don’t thing there will ever be anyone to put the time into the courthouse that Miss Jane did for the past 60 years. She will be truly missed and we already miss her.”
Gault presented Arthur’s plaque to her son, Luther Gibbs.
The program for Wednesday’s ceremony included quotes from some of those who Arthur helped over the years, including Common Pleas Court Coordinator Iris Whisnant who also worked with her in both of the law offices she worked in.
“Her heart encompasses all that she met and she never met a stranger,” Whisnant said.
Tabatha T. Stevens, a paralegal who was also helped by Arthur, said that “In Miss Jane we all found an ‘I love you’ which would brighten up any day.”
Tracie Parker, another paralegal helped by Arthur, said that “… Mrs. Jane taught me ‘time management’ … I know for a fact that God doesn’t give Mrs. Jane a single second more in a day that He gives me… While I’m rushing off … I never have time to stop and help some stranger … but she does… Mrs. Jane doesn’t need extra seconds crammed into a minute to have time for a smile, a hug, a kind word, a patient ear, or a lending hand. We feel special around her because Mrs. Jane knows how to prioritize a day … her priorities aren’t about … winning another award … her priorities are about making sure everyone around her knows they are loved.”
Editor Charles Warner can be reached at 864-427-1234, ext. 14, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org