Originally created 09/08/01

Influential educator dies at 92



Aiken County native Cyril B. Busbee, one of South Carolina's most influential educators, died Thursday at age 92.

Dr. Busbee, a native of Wagener, had been living in Cayce, S.C.

"He was a dedicated family man who took great pride in all of his family," granddaughter Lyn Carpenter Garris said. "He was a voice of logic and reason."

After earning his undergraduate and masters degrees from the University of South Carolina, Dr. Busbee served as teacher, coach, principal and superintendent in South Carolina's public schools for 37 years.

In 1967, Dr. Busbee was elected state superintendent of education. The man, whom family members described as having a great sense of humor, held the position until 1979.

During his tenure, Dr. Busbee helped ease the integration of schools. Later, he instituted kindergarten in South Carolina elementary schools.

"He broke ground in the sense of (integration) happening in such a smooth fashion in South Carolina," said Dr. Frank Roberson, the associate superintendent of Aiken County public schools. "That was not particularly observed in other Southern states."

Dr. Roberson met Dr. Busbee in the early 1980s and later wrote about the heralded educator in his book Over A Hundred Schoolhouses. The book chronicles education in Aiken County.

Those who knew Dr. Busbee described him as an articulate man with "an ability to put things into perspective."

"He was almost obsessed with quality schooling," Dr. Roberson said. "He was driven to be a well-educated person."

Family members said Dr. Busbee enjoyed fishing at Lake Murray, near Columbia. He was married to Thelma Busbee for 72 years. The couple enjoyed traveling.

Cyril B. Busbee Elementary School in Wagener and Cyril Busbee Middle School in Lexington are named after the late educator.

Reach Josh Gelinas at (803) 279-6895.