Community mourns loss of two Berkeley County leaders
Longtime public servant Jim Rozier, who served as Berkeley County Supervisor from 1990-2006 and made the case for keeping Daniel Island part of Berkeley County during the community’s initial exploration of secession to Charleston County, has died. Mr. Rozier passed away on Wednesday, Feb. 6, at age 77.
According to a press release, Rozier was a champion for Berkeley County for decades, serving in several different leadership positions, including his 16 years as county supervisor. He served as the South Carolina Department of Transportation Chairman and was president of Lord Berkeley Conservation Trust and instrumental in its creation. Additionally, Mr. Rozier was instrumental in forming Charleston Regional Development Alliance (CRDA) in the wake of the Naval Shipyard closure and was the Berkeley County Accommodations Tax Advisory Committee Chairman.
Mr. Rozier had a long list of hobbies and even longer list of friends, stated the release. On Friday evenings during football season, he was the voice of the Berkeley Stags football games. He started that role in 1990 as a volunteer and rarely missed a game in that unpaid position. Mr. Rozier was also a loyal Clemson fan. He leaves behind his wife, Kathy, children and grandchildren.
“Berkeley County has lost one of the strongest leaders in its history,” said current Berkeley County Supervisor Johnny Cribb. “On behalf of County Council, we extend our heartfelt condolences to Jim Rozier’s family and friends. His passion for Berkeley County and the citizens was apparent the minute you met him. He helped mold Berkeley County to become the wonderful place we call home. He has left behind a great legacy of service and friendship to all who had the privilege of knowing him.”
In an address to the Daniel Island Business Association on June 29, 2006, shortly after losing his re-election primary to Dan Davis in a surprising defeat two days earlier, Rozier made a point of acknowledging Daniel Island, which, at the time, represented more than 50 percent of the Berkeley County tax base for its important contributions to the area’s business climate.
“You folks are very important to Berkeley County, and not everybody understands that,” said Rozier, who remembered a visit to the island in 1991 when he drove across a wooden bridge to a great big gate with a padlock. “In the last five or six years, over half of the new investment in Berkeley County has been on Daniel Island.”
When Daniel Island first looked into the possibility of seceding from Berkeley County to Charleston County in 1999, Rozier, members of county council, and former Berkeley County Superintendent Chester Floyd came down to the island to speak with residents.
“Rozier definitely did not want to lose Daniel Island,” said resident Bob Uhler. “– he brought the whole council to Daniel Island and they did a wonderful job.”
“Rozier and Floyd outshined them all,” in their presentations, said then school board candidate Don Rose. “Initially, [secession] seemed like a good idea. But after the meeting, it seemed like residents were sold on the idea of remaining with Berkeley County.”
“I am grateful for Jim’s example, his service, his love of Berkeley County, and his friendship,” stated Berkeley County Councilman and Daniel Island resident Josh Whitley in a Facebook post after learning of Mr. Rozier’s passing. “Jim did set the example of high quality leadership and professionalism.
“This is profoundly sad news for Berkeley County, the region and the State of South Carolina,” shared former Berkeley County Deputy Supervisor Tim Callanan. “There has never been nor will there likely ever be a person who had more of a positive influence on this County than Jim Rozier. You felt it when he spoke about the county; it was genuine love. I am proud to have called Jim a friend and a mentor. Rest in peace Mr. Supervisor, you were a good and faithful servant and you finished the race. My prayers are with his wife Kathy, his children and grandchildren.”
The community also learned of the passing of another leader last week – Berkeley County Councilman Ken Gunn, who lost his battle with lung cancer on Feb. 7. Mr. Gunn had served on Berkeley County Council since January 2013. He moved to South Carolina in February 2010 with his wife, Pat, to fulfill a retirement goal of living in the Carolinas close to their children. They have two children and six grandchildren.
A U.S. Army Vietnam veteran and a former mobile intensive care paramedic and volunteer firefighter, Mr. Gunn retired from GE Plastics in 2008. He was also a member of the Berkeley County Republican Party. According to a Berkeley County press release, Mr. Gunn’s goal while in office was to help prepare Berkeley County for the future by properly managing taxpayer funds using common sense values as his guideline.
“Ken Gunn was an incredible public servant, with deep admiration for military veterans and first responders,” stated Supervisor Cribb. “Ken was a Vietnam Veteran himself, and following his service in the United States Army, worked in public safety in various capacities. He used his platform as a Berkeley County Councilman to strengthen and demonstrate the County’s appreciation for all men and women in uniform. On behalf of County Council, our condolences are with his family and friends who are experiencing a tremendous loss right now.”
“My heart breaks,” added Callanan, when referencing Gunn’s passing in a Facebook post. “I loved him like a brother and could not ask for a more loyal friend. I am lucky to have known him these past 7 years. He chose public service for the right reasons, to make life better and safer for its citizens.”