Alfred W. Bethea
|Alfred William "Red" Bethea|
|Member of the South Carolina House of Representatives from Dillon County|
January 10, 1961 – 1966
June 20, 1916|
Dillon, South Carolina, US
|Died||September 13, 1999(aged 83)|
|Resting place||Dothan Methodist Church Cemetery in Dillon County|
|Political party||Democrat-turned-American Independent (1970)|
|Spouse(s)||JoAnne Dellinger Bethea|
|Children||Kitty, Buddy, Shannon, Lesa, Cammie, and Fitzhugh|
|Parents||Fitzhugh Lee and Bonnie Keen Bethea|
|Residence||Dillon, South Carolina|
|Alma mater||Colorado State University|
|Service/branch||United States Army Air Corps|
|Battles/wars||European Theater of Operations of World War II|
Alfred William Bethea, known as Red Bethea (June 20, 1916 – September 13, 1999), was a farmer from Dillon County in eastern South Carolina who served as a Democrat in the South Carolina House of Representatives from 1961 to 1966. In 1970, he left his party to run unsuccessfully as the nominee of the American Independent Party for governor of South Carolina.
A son of Fitzhugh Lee Bethea (1889–1971) and the former Bonnie Keen, Bethea graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in 1938 from Clemson University in Clemson in northwestern South Carolina. In 1945, after service as a Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Army Air Corps in the North African and the European Theater of Operations during World War II, he earned a Master of Science degree from Colorado State University in Fort Collins, then known as Colorado A&M. Bethea was an active member the Veterans of Foreign Wars. From 1959 to 1960, he was a member of the United States Chamber of Commerce. He served as well on the Dillon County Farm Bureau.
Bethea and his wife, the former JoAnne Dellinger (born September 25, 1928), daughter of Lester E. and Saidee Blanchard Dellinger, had six children, Kitty, Buddy, Shannon, Lesa, Cammie, and Fitzhugh Bethea.
In 1968, Bethea supported former Governor George Wallace of Alabama for U.S. President in the three-way campaign against Republican Richard M. Nixon and Democrat Hubert Humphrey, the outgoing vice president, who sought to succeed U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson. Whereas Wallace returned to the Democratic Party to run against Albert Brewer for governor in 1970, Bethea became the standard-bearer of Wallace's former American Independent Party in his own run for governor against the Democrat John C. West, the departing lieutenant governor, and the Republican choice, outgoing U.S. Representative Albert Watson of South Carolina's 2nd congressional district. Bethea claimed that Wallace was sympathetic his campaign, but with his own race in Alabama Wallace took no part in the South Carolina campaign.
Frank B. Best, Sr., of Orangeburg, the 1968 Wallace campaign manager in South Carolina, endorsed Watson, on the basis of his conservative congressional record, rather than West, who had backed Humphrey in the previous presidential race. West had called Humphrey "a real friend of the South though he has had no credit for it." Other Wallace leaders backed the Democrat West, who led in ten of the twelve counties that Wallace had carried in 1968. Bethea finished the race with 9,758 (2 percent), a margin too small to have denied victory to Watson. West prevailed with 251,151 (52.1 percent); Watson trailed with 221,236 (45.9 percent).
Bethea died at the age of eighty-three. He is interred with other family members at the Dothan Methodist Church Cemetery in Dillon County.
- "Dothan Methodist Church Cemetery". sciway3.net. Retrieved May 2, 2014.
- Billy Hathorn, "The Changing Politics of Race: Congressman Albert William Watson and the South Carolina Republican Party, 1965–1970", South Carolina Historical Magazine Vol. 89 (October 1988), p. 233
- Florence Morning News and Charlotte Observer, October 12, 1970; Columbia State, April 1, 1968, October 10, 1970; Columbia Record, October 13, 1970
- South Carolina Election Commission, 1968 and 1970 election returns; Columbia State, November 11, 1970
- South Carolina Election Commission, 1970 general election returns