About Robert Evander McNair
Robert Evander McNair, Sr. (December 14, 1923 – November 17, 2007), was the 108th governor of South Carolina, having served from 1965 to 1971.
McNair was born in Cades, a town in Williamsburg County, South Carolina. In 1944, he married Josephine Robinson of Allendale, South Carolina. He served in the U.S. Navy during World War II, having been awarded a Bronze Star. After the war, he completed his bachelors degree in 1947 at the University of South Carolina, followed by a law degree at the same school in 1948. While attending USC, McNair served as the first Governor of the South Carolina Student Legislature and was initiated into the Kappa Sigma Fraternity. He practiced law in Moncks Corner and Allendale, South Carolina, from which he was elected in 1950 to the South Carolina House of Representatives. He was elected lieutenant governor in 1962, then succeeded Donald S. Russell in 1965 when Russell resigned with the understanding that McNair would appoint him to a then-vacant United States Senate seat, which McNair did.
McNair was a Democrat and a pro-education governor. After his term as governor, he began McNair Law Firm, P.A. in Columbia. He was inducted into the South Carolina Hall of Fame, and awarded an honorary doctorate in 2005 by Francis Marion University, a school he signed into creation while governor in 1970. On May 21, 2009, McNair was inducted into the South Carolina Business Hall of Fame.
McNair was governor during the Orangeburg Massacre in 1968, which he blamed on Black Power advocates, and called it a stain on the state's good record in civil rights. He said it was "one of the saddest days in the history of South Carolina." Following this, McNair became much more proactive in working to defuse tensions that were present during the integration of the public schools.
McNair was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor during a checkup on September 28, 2007, which he died from in Charleston on November 17.
The following week, on November 25, 2007, the late Governor McNair's widow, former First Lady of South Carolina, Josephine Robinson McNair, died at age 84.
On December 19, 2007, about a month after her parents died, Claudia Crawford McNair, died at age 50. She was from Jamestown in Berkeley County, South Carolina.
On January 22, 2008, Governor and Mrs. McNair's only son, Robert E. McNair, Jr., of Columbia, died at age 60 after a seven-year battle with cancer.