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A notable state senator and a distinguished businessman to receive FMU honorary degrees, May 8

FLORENCE – A state senator and businessman will be awarded honorary degrees from Francis Marion University during spring commencement ceremonies at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 8, in the Smith University gymnasium. 

Selected to receive honorary doctoral degrees are S.C. Sen. John Calhoun Land III (D- Clarendon) of Manning and Reamer B. King of Lake City. 

Land will also be the commencement speaker for the 358 candidates for FMU degrees. Candidates include 329 students for undergraduate degrees and 29 for graduate diplomas. 

A native of Manning, Land represents District 36, which includes portions of Calhoun, Clarendon, Florence and Sumter counties. An attorney by trade, Land is now the Sen. Democratic Minority Leader and serves on the Ethics; Finance; Fish, Game, and Forestry; Rules; and Transportation committees of the Senate.

Land was born Jan. 25, 1941, in Manning where he continues to reside. He earned the rank of Eagle Scout in 1955, graduated from Manning High School in 1959, and completed a certificate program in vocational forestry at the University of Florida. After working for a paper manufacturing company for two years, Land enrolled at the University of South Carolina where he graduated with a degree in business administration in 1965 and a law degree in 1968. 

Land was secretary of the S.C. Democratic Party from 1968 to 1974 and in 1970 was elected to the S.C. Highway Commission. He served in that capacity until 1974 when he was elected to the S.C. House of Representatives. In 1977, he was elected to the S.C. Senate. 

He was chairman of the Joint Legislative Study Committee on Workers’ Compensation Laws from 1987 to 1991, and from 1988 to 1993 was chairman of the Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee. In 1993, he became chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, a position in which he served until 2001. Also in 1993, Land was elected chairman of the Democratic Caucus. 

In 1995, he was named Legislator of the Year by the S.C. Pharmacy Association, and in 1996, he received the Compleat Lawyer Award from the University of South Carolina Law School and Alumni Association.

Land is the author of South Carolina’s first child safety seat laws for automobiles and a driving force behind the state’s seatbelt laws. Land received the Child Advocate Award from the S.C. Chapter of American Pediatrics in 2001 as a result of his efforts to improve children’s healthcare access.

He and his wife, Marie, are parents of two sons and a daughter – John Calhoun Land IV, Frances Ricci Land Welch, and William Ceth Land. All of his children are graduates of the University’s School of Law and have joined his law practice in Manning.

King is a local businessman and auto dealer. He is the youngest son of Heyward L. King Sr. and Frances Cockfield King of Lake City. 

He is a graduate of Lake City High School and he attended Wofford College. King began selling cars as a boy in Lake City. After attending Wofford College, he worked as a vehicle salesman for Folger Buick in Charlotte, N.C. In 1968, King later returned to Lake City and became a partner in Coleman-King Chevrolet Oldsmobile, Inc. and founded King Leasing Company, Inc.  

After purchasing King Cadillac Oldsmobile, Inc. in July 1980, King moved to Florence. King Cadillac Oldsmobile, Inc. has led the Southeast Zone in sales objectives. In later years, the Oldsmobile franchise was dropped and GMC Trucks, Buick, and Pontiac franchises were brought into the business.   Today, the dealership business continues as King Cadillac Buick Pontiac GMC, Inc. King has served as a director of the S.C. Automobile Dealers Association and was a recipient of the TIME Magazine’s – Automobile Dealer of the Year Award. 

Active in his community, he and his wife are members of Central United Methodist Church. King has also been a Rotarian for more than 40 years. He has served on the board of directors of the Florence Rotary Club and has also served on and chaired various committees.   Rotary International has honored him as a Paul Harris Fellow to recognize his continued support of the Rotary Foundation. 

Other projects and causes include the establishment of the Kidney Foundation’s Pee Dee Cadillac Invitational, a hugely successful benefit tournament; chairman of the Heart Ball to benefit the American Heart Association; and serving as a board member for the founding of The School Foundation to benefit the schools in Florence School District One. 

He has been a member of the FMU Education Foundation Board of Directors since 2004 and ascended to the position of chairman in 2008. Along with his brother Heyward, he endowed the King Scholarship in 2003 to pay tribute to their parents. 

He and his wife, Betty Gail Morisey King of Clinton, N.C. are the parents of R. Benjamin King Jr., M.D. and twins daughters: Ashley King Springs and Jacqueline King Grich. They have 10 grandchildren.

#97/4-28-10

Last Published: May 10, 2010 2:01 PM
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