Bill Workman

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William Douglas "Bill" Workman, III
33rd Mayor of Greenville, South Carolina
In office
June 13, 1983 – December 11, 1995
Preceded by Harry B. Luthi
Succeeded by Knox H. White
President of the Municipal Association of South Carolina
In office
Preceded by Stephen M. Creech
Succeeded by Lessie B. Price
At-large member of the Greenville City Council
In office
1981 – June 13, 1983
Preceded by Clifford Gaddy, Jr.
Succeeded by Knox H. White
Personal details
Born (1940-07-03) July 3, 1940 (age 74)
Charleston, South Carolina, USA
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) (1) Missing

(2) Patti Gage Fishburne Workman

Children Two sons, including:

William D. Workman, IV
Three stepdaughters:
Gage Marks Beerer
Barnwell Johnson Marks
Kemp Fishburne Marks

Parents W. D. Workman, Jr.

Heber Rhea Thomas Workman

Residence Current: Walterboro
Colleton County
South Carolina

(1) Greenville, South Carolina
(2) Bluffton, South Carolina
(3) Charleston
(4) Columbia, South Carolina

Alma mater The Citadel
Occupation Retired business consultant

Former journalist and educator

Military service
Service/branch United States Army (peacetime)
Rank Lieutenant colonel

William Douglas Workman, III, known as Bill Workman (born July 3, 1940),[1] is a retired economic development consultant who served from 1983 to 1995 as the mayor of Greenville, South Carolina.[2]

His father, W. D. Workman, Jr., was the conservative journalist with the Charleston News and Courier and then The Columbia State, who ran for the United States Senate in 1962 and for governor of South Carolina in 1982, both times on the Republican ticket.


Workman was born in Charleston[3] but spent his first five years in Walterboro in Colleton County in the South Carolina Lowcountry while his father was in the United States Army as an intelligence officer in World War II. His mother, the former Heber Rhea Thomas (1918-1988), a native of Walterboro, was the supervisor of recreation for the Walterboro Works Progress Administration servicemen's club. Called "Tommy" by her husband, whom she married in May 1939, Rhea Workman graduated from Winthrop College and the University of South Carolina and was an English professor from 1957 to 1977 at Columbia College in Columbia.[4] Her mother, Ruth Dorrill Thomas, Workman's grandmother, taught at Walterboro High School and launched in 1935 the Future Teachers of America chapter at the school.[5]Workman has a sister, Dorrill "Dee" Workman (born c. 1944) of Greenville, formerly Dee Benedict. She is named for their maternal grandmother.[4]

Reared in Charleston and Columbia, Workman graduated in 1961 from The Citadel in Charleston, the alma mater of both his grandfather and father.[6]Workman served two years in the United States Army, in which he attained the rank of lieutenant colonel.[3]Like his father, he was a newspaper reporter for the Charleston News and Courier. He also worked for the Greenville News. He was for a time an educator and dean of Allied Health Sciences at Greenville Technical College. For six years, he was a member of the Greenville County School Board. He was among the founders of the South Carolina Literacy Association.[7]

Workman has been twice married. From his first union, he has two sons; one is William Workman, IV (born c. 1967). From his second marriage to the former Patti Gage Fishburne (born 1942), who was formerly married to Donald K. Marks (born c. 1942) of Greenville,[8] Workman acquired three stepdaughters,[7]Gage Marks Beerer, Barnwell Johnson Marks, and Kemp Fishburne Marks.[9]

Patti Workman, a native of Walterboro, graduated in 1960 from Walterboro High School,[10] where Workman's grandmother had once been on the faculty.[5]Her father. Lucius Gaston "Boots" Fishburne, Sr. (1913-2002), graduated in the 1935 class with Bill Workman's father from The Citadel. He was a decorated United States Army lieutenant colonel in World War II, a prominent Walterboro businessman, and an Episcopalian layman.[11]Her mother, the former Florence Barnwell Dargan (1916-2008), was a member of the Nature Conservancy and the National Society of Colonial Dames.[9]

Economic development is a high calling as far as I am concerned. ... Downtown is everybody's neighborhood. -- Bill Workman

Political life[edit]

From 1975 to 1978, Workman was the executive assistant to Governor James B. Edwards of Charleston, the first Republican chief executive in South Carolina since Reconstruction. As Edwards's assistant based in the capital city of Columbia, Workman was an alternate to the Appalachian Regional Commission. He became involved with planning and economic development issues. From 1972 to 1975, he was vice chairman and then chairman of the South Carolina Appalachian Health Council for which he worked to attract to South Carolina the growing number of federal categorical grants.[12]

Workman was an at-large member of the Greenville City Council for two years preceding his tenure as mayor.[2] The 33rd mayor, he served for twelve and one-half years, in which capacity he refined his emphasis on economic and downtown development, the thrust of which dated back to 1971 to 1979 during the administration of the Democratic Mayor Max Heller.[13] In 2004, U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham acknowledged Workman's accomplishments in attracting new industries to his city and region: "There is no doubt Greenville is now one of the Southeast region's premier cities for business."[7]Workman faced the rapid decline of the textile mills in western South Carolina, a loss which made economic development more difficult. Workman described economic development as a process which requires both diversification and specialization. Quoting the urban planner Jane Jacobs: "Poverty happens; prosperity, you have to work at it."[14]In 1994, Mayor Workman was elected by his colleagues as president of the Municipal Association of South Carolina.[15]

Involved in Republican politics, Mayor Workman in 1984 attended a Reagan-Bush rally at Greenville Technical College.[16] In 1986, Workman ran unsuccessfully for a seat in the United States House of Representatives from South Carolina's 4th congressional district. The position was vacated by Carroll A. Campbell, Jr., a Republican who was elected governor that year, only the second Republican in the office in the modern era. Workman defeated airline pilot Ted Adams in a runoff election for the Republican nomination, 8,453 votes (55.3 percent) to 6,829 (44.7 percent); in the primary, however, Workman had polled 49.2 percent, nearly enough to win outright. Workman lost in the general election to State Senator Liz J. Patterson, 67,012 (51.4 percent) to 61,648 (47.3 percent). Two minor candidates polled the remaining 1,747 votes (1.3 percent).[1]Johnston is the daughter of Olin D. Johnston, the Democrat whom Workman's father had unsuccessfully challenged twenty-four years earlier in the 1962 race for the U. S. Senate.[17]

In February 2004, Workman spoke in Orangeburg, South Carolina, to support downtown revitalization efforts there. He said that development depends on a mixture of "love, humility and cooperation among all residents. ... Downtown is everybody's neighborhood."[18]

In March 2004, Workman received the annual John D. Whisman Vision Award from the Development District Association of Appalachia at the annual conference of the organization held in Arlington, Virginia. The conference represented more than three hundred officials from seventy-two economic planning and development districts.[12]

Beginning in 2004, the Greenville Area Development Commission, of which Workman was its first chairman, launched the presentation of its annual "William D. Workman III Buffalo Hunter Award", which honors either an individual or an organization that has demonstrated a major impact on the local economy. "Buffalo Hunter" refers to locating new businesses to Greenville.[19]He is a past president of the Greenville County Research and Technological Development Corporation.[7]

Later years[edit]

In 2004, Workman retired from the position of vice president of South Carolina district operations of the Piedmont Natural Gas Company but continued working as an economic development consultant.[7] Thereafter, he served as town manager of Bluffton in Colleton County.[20]He also headed the Colleton County Economic Alliance Board.[3]

In 2014, Workman, by then retired in Walterboro, summed up his business and political career as follows, "Economic development is what I have done for a living and for fun. ... Economic development is a high calling as far as I am concerned," upon receiving in Columbia the designation of "South Carolina Economic Ambassador".[21]


  1. ^ a b "SC - District 04". Retrieved May 14, 2014. 
  2. ^ a b "Historical Archives: Mayors and Intendants, with photos". Retrieved May 14, 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c "Local Leaders Named S.C. Economic Ambassadors, April 4, 2014". Retrieved May 14, 2014. 
  4. ^ a b "William D. Workman Papers". Retrieved May 14, 2014. 
  5. ^ a b Sherry J. Cawley, Around Walterboro, South Carolina, p. 62. Arcadia Publishing, 1998; ISBN=978-0-7385-6868-3. Retrieved May 14, 2014. 
  6. ^ "William D. Workman, Jr.". Retrieved May 14, 2014. 
  7. ^ a b c d e "Lindsey Graham, "Bill Workman", February 2, 2004". Project Vote Smart. Retrieved May 14, 2014. 
  8. ^ "Donald K. Marks". Retrieved May 14, 2014. 
  9. ^ a b "Florence Barnwell Dargan Fishburne (1916-2008)". Retrieved May 14, 2014. 
  10. ^ "Yes, You Can Go Home Again!"". The Colletonian. Retrieved May 14, 2014. 
  11. ^ "Lucius Gaston Fishburne, Sr.". Retrieved May 14, 2014. 
  12. ^ a b "William D. Workman III Receives John D. Whisman Vision Award, March 15, 2004". Retrieved May 14, 2014. 
  13. ^ "Max Heller Biography". Furman University. Retrieved May 20, 2014. 
  14. ^ "Prosperity Requires Both Diversification and Specialization, December 1, 2013". Retrieved May 14, 2014. 
  15. ^ "Past Presidents". Municipal Association of South Carolina. Retrieved May 14, 2014. 
  16. ^ "Remarks at a Reagan-Bush Rally in Greenville, South Carolina October 15, 1984". Retrieved May 14, 2014. 
  17. ^ "Bitter Alabama Race Nears End, June 24, 1986; Article on Alabama campaigns with mention of Workman's congressional bid". The Sun Sentinel. Retrieved May 14, 2014. 
  18. ^ "Former Greenville, S.C., Mayor Praises Downtown-Revitalization Group, February 4, 2004". Retrieved May 14, 2014. 
  19. ^ "GADC reports 1,556 jobs created in 2008, May 22, 2009". Retrieved May 14, 2014. 
  20. ^ "About Us". Retrieved May 14, 2014. 
  21. ^ "A WORKMAN-LIKE EFFORT: Bill Workman honored as S.C. Economic Ambassador, April 17, 2014". Colleton Today. Retrieved May 14, 2014. 
Preceded by
Harry B. Luthi
33rd Mayor of Greenville, South Carolina

William Douglas "Bill" Workman, III

Succeeded by
Knox H. White
Preceded by
Clifford Gaddy, Jr.
At-large member of the Greenville City Council

William Douglas "Bill" Workman, III

Succeeded by
Knox H. White
Preceded by
Stephen M. Creech (Sumter)
President of the Municipal Association of South Carolina

William Douglas "Bill" Workman, III

Succeeded by
Lessie B. Price (Aiken)