Family and friends of former seven-term Williston mayor and state Sen. William E. "Bill" Knotts Jr. remember him as a caring family man and key figure in developing and improving the small Barnwell County town he loved.
Mr. Knotts died Friday. He was 82.
Born in Swansea, S.C., Mr. Knotts graduated from Gainesville High School in Gainesville, Fla., and later attended the University of South Carolina, said his daughter Cindy Bellamy, 50, of Aiken.
Mr. Knotts began his career in a small grocery store in Williston, then owned a furniture store and later purchased Williston Telephone Co. and Home CATV Co. and opened Bill Knotts Realty Co., Mrs. Bellamy said.
He served seven terms as mayor of Williston, a job he enjoyed because of his love for the residents, his daughter said.
"His whole life was devoted to making Williston more successful at being a town," Mrs. Bellamy said.
Mr. Knotts was instrumental in bringing industries such as Chill Chest, a freezer manufacturer, to the town, Barnwell County Magistrate A.W. "Bebo" Flynn said.
Mr. Knotts also supported the construction of new residential housing developments, he said.
"I don't think Williston would be where it is today had it not been for Bill," he said.
"We're going to miss him, that's for sure," said Mr. Flynn, who served as mayor pro tem under Mr. Knotts twice and succeeded him as mayor of Williston in 1976, when Mr. Knotts was elected to the state Senate.
By 1986, Mr. Knotts was serving as a South Carolina highway commissioner.
Other survivors include his wife, Betty Traylor Knotts; sons Ronald E. Knotts Sr. and Mark E. Boulware; daughters Barbara K. Hogle and Judy K. Lochner; brother James H. Knotts; 10 grandchildren; and 14 great-grandchildren.
His family will receive friends from 4 to 6 p.m. today at Folk Funeral Home in Williston.
Services will be held at 1 p.m. Monday at First Baptist Church in Williston, with burial in Williston Cemetery.
Reach Kate Lewis at (706) 823-3215 or email@example.com.
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