Our Man of the Year is known for his love of people, his caring personality, and his heartfelt gratitude for the opportunities life has given him and his family.
He is a man of strong faith and his faith informs his everyday life. Through his varied and interesting career, he has touched the lives of people young and old.
Fortunately for him, and for our community, all his formal job roles have placed him in the position to help people who might just need a little encouragement along the way.
Perhaps he sees his own life experiences and challenges in those who need a helping hand. He did not always get what he pursued. There were a couple of opportunities here and there for which he was overlooked, but his reaction to those setbacks should be a lesson to all of us in how to overcome adversity and fight on. Undoubtedly, his involvement in competitive sports prepared him for dealing with the disappointments life can bring.
As some of those doors slammed shut, other doors cracked open for him. Today, he enjoys cracking open doors for others.
Sports not only prepared him for life, it opened those doors. There is no question he would have played major college football when he was young, but the times didn’t allow it in that era. He played college football for an HBCU, an historically black college and university, as a receiver.
The impact of sports on his life continued as he accepted the offer to become the head football coach at Schofield High School right out of college. It was the all-black high school in Aiken during segregation. He coached hundreds of young kids while at Schofield - most of whom recall the valuable lessons, discipline and hope that the young head coach provided them. The schools in Aiken County were integrated in the 1970s, and while he was passed over for the position as head coach, he made the best of the situation. His student-athletes loved and respected him.
He decided to run for Aiken City Council in 1973. His football players from Aiken High School met on Saturdays at Cumberland AME church and went from door to door in their respective neighborhoods asking people to vote for their coach. He was the leading vote-getter on the ticket and made history by becoming the first African-American elected to Aiken City Council.
In 1975, he was promoted into administration becoming the Principal of Aiken Elementary which was located at the current site of the Aiken library. In 1981, he was elected to Aiken County Council. In 1983, he was promoted to principal of Aiken High School and served there until 1986 when he got a call from the governor of South Carolina.
Governor Riley appointed him to be an administrative law judge with the Workers Compensation Commission making him the first, but not the last person in his family to become a judge. He served there until 1994 when he was elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives. He currently serves on the powerful House Ways and Means Committee. He also serves on the board of directors of Security Federal Bank.
His life’s work is a testament to his love of helping others. The Clyburn Center for Primary Care was named in his honor in 2014 in recognition of his commitment to providing access to health care to everyone regardless of ability to pay.
He was not born in Aiken, but you wouldn’t know it. Aiken is home to him and his wife, Beverly, and they would have it no other way. They raised their three children, William, Tony and Courtney, here in Aiken. All are law school graduates.
It would be safe to say that of all the positions he has held in his life the one in which he is most proud is the one that paid him the least and required the most hours - coaching and teaching young people.
Tonight, the Man of the Year is receiving just a little return for the years of his commitment to his family, his students, his athletes, his constituents and most importantly, his faith.
The Man of the Year is Representative Bill Clyburn.
We all know how to plan for a hurricane. You go to the store and you get milk and bread. And in true Aiken fashion, many folks also make a stop at the liquor store.
Well if it is a good plan for a hurricane, it might also be a good plan for a pandemic. But, our Small Business of the Year doesn’t do things like everyone else. They jumped in the company car, skipped the grocery store, and headed right to the liquor store.
You guessed it, there’s more to this story.
At the beginning of the pandemic, hand sanitizer was in short supply. People who could stay home could wash their hands often, but essential personnel like Aiken Public Safety didn’t have that luxury. Our Small Business of the Year, armed with an FDA approved formula, and every stand mixer they could borrow, stepped up and helped fill the supply gap making numerous gallons of hand sanitizer to give to public safety and other essential personnel.
Fast forward a bit and vaccines are developed. We know area hospitals will distribute vaccines, but are there others that could help bring vaccines to Aiken and take the pressure off these already overworked resources? Our Small Business of the Year knew they could do it.
After wading through mounds of paperwork and logistics that would frighten most businesses away, they were granted 2 of the 4 vaccine administration certifications given to independent businesses like theirs across the state of South Carolina during the first two months of vaccinations.
To date, our Small Business of the Year has administered over 10,000 COVID-19 vaccines to not only its current family of customers but to anyone eligible. They have provided vaccine administration for public safety, city and county staff, shut-ins, and several of Aiken’s large manufacturers.
The professional staff has spent countless hours outside in their drive-thru clinics. Some days in Chamber of Commerce weather, some days in eight hours of rain, and others in eight hours of pollen.
Tonight, we’d like to expand on their business tagline just bit...Welcome to Family Pharmacy...That’s my Pharmacy…That’s our Small Business of the Year.
It’s March 31, 2020, and the breaking news is - South Carolina has joined the list of states that have closed all unessential businesses. How will business owners make payroll, and pay their rent and utilities? How will our business community survive?
Our Large Business of the Year didn’t just scratch their heads wondering what to do, they acted immediately. They worked with the City of Aiken, the Chamber, and the Aiken Corporation to establish a “war room” with the intention of making sure the Aiken business community could survive. They were absolutely determined Aiken’s business community would have the resources it needed.
In only four days they established a $1 Million Dollar revolving loan fund. This fund provided a much needed lifeline for 47 Aiken business owners.
As one recipient said, “I was amazed and thankful at how quickly and efficiently key players banded together to make this assistance possible. Speaking to small business friends located in other cities made it clear that the type of assistance we received in Aiken was not being duplicated most other places.”
The work with the loan fund was just the beginning. The Large Business of the Year went back to their war room and said what’s next.
Being a local business with local ownership and local control, they knew they had a key ingredient to successfully navigating the Paycheck Protection Loans through the CARES Act – they had employees with relationships to their customers and connections in the community. These relationships and their commitment to the community made the professional team determined to learn the ins and outs of the complicated federal program and assist not only current customers, but anyone in the community with the process.
At the end of 2020, they had assisted over 1,450 customers and provided over $75 million in funding through the program. Our Small Business of the Year was the leader in loans under $150,000 to small businesses in the Aiken-Augusta market.
Our Large Business of the Year has had a 99-year love affair with Aiken, and Aiken loves them back. Thank you, and Congratulations to Security Federal Bank.