William Light “Bill” Kinney, Jr.

October 26, 1933 ~ February 19, 2023 (age 89)

Veteran journalist, historian, and civic leader, William Light “Bill” Kinney Jr., 89, of Bennettsville died peacefully at his family antebellum home, Magnolia, under the loving care of his daughter, Elisabeth Kinney McNiel, Sunday night, February 19, 2023.

The lifelong resident of Bennettsville was editor and publisher emeritus of the Marlboro Herald-Advocate, McColl Messenger, and The Marlboro Shopper and former president of Marlboro Publishing Co. Inc. He was a longtime contributor to the South Carolina Press Association (SCPA), was a past president of that organization and president of the SCPA Foundation. He was a founder of the SCPA Hall of Fame. He also authored several historical books and won state and national journalistic awards.

He was born during The Great Depression, the only child of William Light Kinney and Annie Laurie Mayer Kinney on October 26, 1933, in Bennettsville, in the home of his paternal grandparents, Dr. and Mrs. John Frank Kinney, as was his father.

He was a 1951 honor graduate of Bennettsville High School and editor of “The Green Wave” school newspaper.

He then attended Wofford College in Spartanburg as his father and grandfather did before him, graduating in 1954 after three years of study with a Bachelor of Science degree while majoring in biology, chemistry, physics, and math. While at Wofford he was inducted into The Phi Beta Kappa Society, Senior Order of Gnomes, and Blue Key Honor Society; edited the college handbook and “The Bohemian” school yearbook; served as student body president; was a member of the Army Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC); sang in the Men’s Glee Club; and was a Vice President of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity, SC Gamma Chapter. He was always a proud Terrier alumnus and earned his most cherished distinction by being bestowed an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from the College in 1999.

He attended the University of South Carolina College of Journalism from 1954-1955 where he edited the college’s laboratory newspaper and later graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism in 1977. He proudly served in the United States Army stationed at Fort Jackson in Columbia from 1954-1958. He then returned to Bennettsville joining his parents in the operation of Marlboro Publishing Co. and in 1972 bought the business from them.

While traveling cross-country with his good friend, Jimmy Cannon of Hartsville, they stopped in Atlanta to visit friends. There he was introduced to his future wife, Margaret René Pegues, on his 29th birthday, October 26, 1962, by a longstanding mutual family friend, Florie McLeod Ervin of Florence. After an 18-month courtship, they married at Central United Methodist Church in Monroe, NC, where her mother then lived, on March 21, 1964.

Upon marriage they moved to Bennettsville, and there they lived raising their two children, Elisabeth Mayer Kinney McNiel and William Light Kinney III, and doting on three grandchildren, Lee, Margaret Jane, and Light McNiel. Since 1979 he relished hosting family and friends at the family summer cottage, “-30-“, in Pawleys Island.

He loved to travel visiting all 50 states and many foreign countries. Highlights include in 1960 when the Soviet Union opened its doors to receive US tourists for the first time since the Cold War, spending the summer of 1963 in England with the Experiment in International Living, and being a participant in a United Methodist medical mission trip to Jérémie, Haiti, in 1976.

For over 65 years, he spearheaded and led community, state, and national improvement efforts through his newspaper writings and personal service.

He was a lifelong active member of First United Methodist Church, where he served as lay leader and had numerous administrative roles. He sang bass in its Chancel Choir for 75 years until his failing health would not allow him to continue to regularly participate. He was a strong advocate of the church’s music ministry including his love and admiration for the Cassavant organ.

He tirelessly worked with likeminded folks, demonstrating unselfish volunteer service to better his beloved hometown of Bennettsville and greater Marlboro County. He served as a Bennettsville City Councilman and Mayor Pro-Tempore, as well as a leader and board member of The Kinney Foundation, Whipple Marlboro Fund, Marlboro County Economic Development Board, Lakeside Residential Development, Bennettsville United Fund, Bennettsville Chamber of Commerce, and Bennettsville Jaycees. He was instrumental in the formation of the Marlboro Civic Center Foundation and the restoration of the 1917 opera house and was chairman at the time of his death.

He was an active and involved member of the Rotary Club of Bennettsville since 1958, having served as Club President for two terms, maintained 65 years of perfect attendance, and was twice named a Paul Harris Fellow. He believed in the Rotary motto, “Service Above Self” and strived to live that out daily as well as instilling the values of being a servant leader and legacy of charitable giving in his family.

His passion for history and historic preservation began at a young age and continued throughout his life. Locally, he served as president of the Marlborough Historical Society, as well as chairman of the Marlboro County Historic Preservation Commission and Bennettsville Board of Architectural Review/Tree Committee. He chaired the restoration of an 1826 house museum, an 1831 home once used as the county courthouse, 1834 and 1903 schoolhouses, his 1853 home and 1902 former office building. His adaptive use of two old downtown buildings for his newspaper offices was twice featured in the National Newspaper Association’s (NNA) “Publisher’s Auxiliary”.

He was known to many as the most dedicated advocate of preserving SC’s history. He secured 25 Official SC historical markers within his home county and led major downtown improvement efforts as vice chairman of the Bennettsville Downtown Development Association. He helped secure National Register status for two municipal historic districts. He served as County Chairman of the SC Tricentennial in 1970 and the US Bicentennial in 1976.

He was also active at the state level in numerous capacities including previously serving as chairman of the SC Archives and History Commission as a gubernatorial appointee for 36 years and was vice chairman at the time of his death. He also remained chairman of the SC Review Board for National Register Nominations. He was past president of the SC Historical Society, SC Confederation of Local Historical Societies, Friends of Brookgreen Gardens, and SC Methodist Conference Commission on Archives and History. He also served as vice chairman of the Official South Carolina Hall of Fame. He was a board member of the Palmetto Trust for Historic Preservation, SC State Development Board, Brookgreen Gardens, McLeod Regional Medical Center Foundation, Pawleys Island Civic Association, and University South Caroliniana Society.

For 30 years he served as a congressional appointee to the Board of Trustees of the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress and was board chairman for three terms. He was a member of the National Board of Advisors of the National Trust for Historic Preservation and chairman of its Southern Region Board of Advisors for four years. He also served as a director of the Wofford College National Alumni Association and the United States Jaycees.

In acknowledgment of his many contributions, efforts, and accomplishments, he was presented South Carolina’s highest civilian honor, The Order of the Palmetto, in 2015 by Governor Nikki Haley. At the same time, Bennettsville City Council named the two entrances into the large off-Main Street Municipal Parking Lot as “Bill Kinney Jr. Way” in his honor.

Other recognitions include being listed in Who’s Who in America since 1982, presented the USC College of Journalism’s McKissick Award in 1955, named to the USC College of Journalism’s Diamond Circle in 1998, presented the NNA Amos Award for longstanding community service in 2016, named SC Jaycees Young Man of the Year in 1961, twice the recipient of the SC Governor’s Award for Lifetime Achievement in Historic Preservation, named a SC Hometown Hero by the SC Downtown Development Association, the recipient of the SC Arts Commission’s Elizabeth O’Neill Verner State Arts Advocacy Award, the recipient of the SC General Assembly’s Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award, and named Marlboro County Economic Development Ambassador. In 2022 the Marlboro Chamber of Commerce named its annual Community Leader Award in his honor.

He retired from day-to-day operations of the publishing company in 2014, turning over the business to his daughter, Elisabeth, and her husband, Dan McNiel. He remained active in religious, civic, advocacy, and volunteer efforts until just recently. He continued to enjoy serving as an enthusiastic walking tour guide for any visitor to Bennettsville, his office or home.

For the past few months, he struggled valiantly with a diagnosis of Parkinsonism and its related complications, all the while demonstrating his strong faith in Jesus Christ, genteel Southern nature, and good humor to family and friends.

Survivors include his daughter and son-in-law, Elisabeth Mayer Kinney McNiel (Daniel Edward McNiel) of Bennettsville; three grandchildren, Robert Leland McNiel III (Emma Johnson McNiel) of Chattanooga, TN, Margaret Jane McNiel of Knoxville, TN, and William Light Kinney McNiel of Wofford College, Spartanburg; two and one-half year old great-grandson, Robert Leland McNiel IV of Chattanooga; ten-month old great-granddaughter, Rose Catherine McNiel of Chattanooga; sister-in-law, Frances Elisabeth Pegues Burroughs of Conway; nephew, Henry Buck Burroughs III (Julie Legg Burroughs) of Brandon, FL; niece, Victoria McNeill Burroughs of North Charleston; great-nephew, Henry Buck (Hank) Burroughs IV, also of Brandon; and numerous Mayer and Kinney cousins and close friends.

In addition to his parents, he was predeceased by his wife of 57 years, Margaret René Pegues Kinney, on July 31, 2021, and 20-year-old son, William Light Kinney III, on July 21, 1989.

A Celebration of Life service will be held on Wednesday, February 22, 2023, at First United Methodist Church, 311 East Main Street, Bennettsville at 11 a.m., followed by burial at Sunset Memorial Park. The family is receiving friends at his home, Magnolia, 508 East Main Street.

 Memorial donations may be given to the William Light Kinney III ’91 Endowed Scholarship Fund at Wofford College, Attention: Office of Advancement, 429 North Church Street, Spartanburg, SC 29303.

Emily Finklea Kelly

September 30, 1928  –  January 27, 2023

Emily Finklea Kelly, 94 years of age, passed away on January 27, 2023. Emily was born and raised in Monroeville, Alabama. She attended Ward Belmont Junior College (Belmont University) in Nashville, TN for her senior year of high school and 2 years of college, being very active in their music program. In 1950 Emily received a degree in Medical Technology from the Franklin School of Science and Arts in Philadelphia, PA. Emily moved to Bennettsville, SC after accepting a job at Marlboro General Hospital. It was here that she met and married Bill Odom, moving to Chapel Hill where they lived 4 years while Bill attended Dental School, then returning to Bennettsville where Bill worked and they raised their three girls. After Bill’s death in 1965 Emily married Ralph Kelly, attorney. Ralph passed away in 2008. Emily moved to Charlotte, NC in 2020 to live with her daughter (Diane) and son- in –law.

Emily was a very active member of the First United Methodist Church, serving on the Altar Guild and playing the piano for her Sunday school class. She spent 11 years as a Girl Scout Leader, highlights being camping and attending the 1965 New York World’s fair with 21 seventh graders (described as memorable). Emily was a member of the VA Alleghany Chapter of the DAR with her daughter Phyllis. Emily enjoyed being with her family and living in Bennettsville with her friends and neighbors. She especially loved when her girls were able to get together with her. Emily enjoyed gardening, nature, science and traveling, having visited 44 of the US states and going on adventures with church friends to Canada and Europe.

Emily is preceded in death by her parents, Charles and Evelyn Finklea, husband Bill Odom and husband Ralph Kelly. She is survived by her daughters Phyllis Odom Eschenmann (Kurt), Diane Odom Jackson-Szymczyk (Roger), Sharon Odom Infinger (Marvin), 6 Grandchildren (Ashley, Chris, Graham, Miller, Emily and Charlotte), and 9 Great Grandchildren (Olivia, William, Maggie, Pierce, Ace, Grant, Scott, Ada and Charlotte).

Family and friends will be notified of a Memorial Service to be held in Bennettsville, SC at a later date. Memorials may be made to First United Methodist Church in Bennettsville.

Earl Lindsay Daniel

April 30, 1928 – October 30, 2022

Bennettsville, SC

Earl Lindsay Daniel, 94 of Bennettsville, SC died Sunday, October 30, 2022. A native of Charlotte, NC, he was the son of Edgar Bowles Daniel and Winifred Graham Daniel.  He was preceded in death by his wife Gladys Gaster Daniel. Three brothers also preceded him in death- Howard Graham Daniel, Walter Freeman Daniel and Clyde William Daniel.

He is survived by his daughter, Lindsay D. Bennett and son-in-law Robby Bennett of Cheraw, SC.  Mr. Daniel is also survived by his grandson, Daniel McArn Bennett of Washington, DC and his wife, Dr. Katie Jeter Bennett of Charlotte, NC.  He is survived by a sister, Virginia Daniel Ewart, of Atlanta, Ga.

Earl attended Charlotte schools and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He served in the United States Air Force and was stationed at Ft. Knox Kentucky.   He retired from the transportation sector having spent most of his career in sales in the trucking industry.   Also, he was employed as Personnel Manager at Crown Cork & Seal Cheraw for several years.

He was a member of First United Methodist Church in Bennettsville.  Earl enjoyed all sports, playing baseball in his youth and golf in his adult years.  He was an avid fan of college basketball and the UNC Tarheels. In 1971, he was coach to the Marlboro Academy Boys Basketball State Champions.  Mr. Daniel and his wife along with longtime friends returned to the Bluegrass State for over 30 years to attend the Kentucky Derby. In 2013 he was named a Kentucky Colonel by the Governor of the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

A graveside service will be held on Thursday, November 3 at 11:00am at Old St. David’s Cemetery – 91 Church Street in Cheraw, SC.

The family is appreciative of his FUMC Bennettsville friends and Magnolia Restaurant Breakfast buddies for their calls, cards and visits.  Also, the family will remember the kindness shown to Mr. Daniel by his caretakers and staff from Crescent Hospice group.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the McArn Community Ministry – PO Box 372- Cheraw, SC 29520, or to the St. David’s Cemetery Association – PO Box 1196 – Cheraw, SC 29520 or to Old St. David’s Episcopal Church c/o The Chesterfield County Historic Preservation Commission -230 Third Street- Cheraw, SC 29520

Dear First United Methodist Church Community,

What strange times we’re living through! So many tragic losses… so much fear and worry.  And yet, we know ourselves to be blessed. As beloved children of God, we recognize our blessings no matter the current circumstance.

We see blessings in being part of this congregation, and we respond by inviting others into our worship and fellowship. We see blessings in being part of this community, and we respond by inviting our neighbors to share a meal on most Wednesday nights. We invite our neighbors to join us in our Fall Festival, and we look forward to returning to other invitational traditions.

We see blessings in being together, and we respond with fellowship and with mutual support. We know that First UMC is there for us: with a meal, with counseling and prayer. We’ve found an extended “family” with whom we can share our worries and our joys.

This is the way that First UMC responds to our many blessings: generosity. As Christians, we strive to be generous, improving the lives of our neighbors, local and global. Perhaps even more importantly, living generously improves us. It changes our relationship with our “stuff”, and, in doing so, changes our relationship with God. Generosity moves our perspective to trusting in God instead of only relying on ourselves, our hard work, our knowledge, and our resources. What a relief to understand that we can rely on more than ourselves!

This year’s Stewardship drive must be different in some ways because these past years have put all of us in different circumstances. Some of our community is suffering from the health impacts and the economic consequences of the pandemic. On the other hand, some find themselves with reduced expenses, because they are spending more time at home. The uncertainty of this time will make First UMC’s budgeting very difficult. Your pledge is the best way to let our congregational leadership know how much financial support First UMC is likely to see next year. If you can afford to increase your pledge, please consider that First UMC is poised to expand our engagement with the community, and that that fulfilling these plans will depend on our funding. As always, please be aware that a pledge is a statement for your planned giving, not an immutable contract.

We will celebrate the gathering of our planned offerings on Sunday, December 4th. You can bring your pledge to First UMC for that celebration or mail it to FUMC, PO Box 456, Bennettsville, SC 29512.

Please know you are welcome to contact Pastor Taylor, or any member of the Stewardship/Finance Committee to help determine your pledge. We thank you in advance for your commitment to First UMC and wish you many generous blessings!


November 6, 2022

On November 6, 2022, we will celebrate “All Saints Day” at First United Methodist Church in Bennettsville.  It is the tradition of many churches throughout the world to commemorate this day each year.  It is a day that we remember those who have entered The Church Triumphant.  We will be remembering our members and constituents who have passed away since our last “All Saints Day.”

We want to invite you to join us on this day as we remember our members who have entered The Church Triumphant during our worship service and then join us in the Methodist Family Center for our All Saints Day Luncheon. Our menu will be fried chicken, roast beet, mashed potatoes and gravy, macaroni and cheese, broccoli salad green beans, bread, dessert and drink.

We hope to see you and your family on November 6th for this time of remembrance.