75 YEARS AGO - 1943
May 15 - May 21
John Bailey Littlejohn of Sumter was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Army of the United States upon successful completion of the officer candidate course at the Infantry School at Fort Benning, Georgia. Lt. Littlejohn is the son of Dr. and Mrs. T.T. Littlejohn of Sumter. The new lieutenant enlisted into the Army on Feb. 17, 1942, and served with the 603rd Coast Artillery at Burbank, California, before going to officer candidate school for three months. He held the rank of corporal before being commissioned.
• Shaw Field grieved today the loss of three of its most important and popular officers, killed as their plane crashed into Virginia mountainside Saturday. They were: Maj. James L. Citta, 31, flight surgeon; Maj. Robert Bell, 36, chief of the station hospital's dental department; and Capt. Jere Asmond Wells Jr., 23, a flying group commander. All were married and resided in Sumter where they and their families were widely known.
• Maybe a black cat crossed his path or he lost his rabbit's foot. Anyway, one city delivery boy was on the bad side of lady luck this morning. Bumped off his bicycle in front of the Rex Theatre, he picked himself up, remounted his wheel and headed around the corner to West Liberty Street. He had progressed about 50 yards when another vehicle struck him and he was knocked down again. This time he just sat for a minute, cogitating on the dangers of heavy traffic. When he finally pulled himself together he turned around slowly and pedaled across Main to East Liberty, just in time to crash into another boy on a bicycle.
• Austin M. Francis, general secretary of the Sumter YMCA since 1930, tendered his resignation to the board of directors of the local association at a special meeting. Francis stated that he had been offered a position on the staff of the National Council of the YMCA Industrial Center for CA as executive director of civilian war workers. After considering Francis' resignation in executive session, the board of directors voted to release Francis on the date requested and to accept his resignation with great regret. The board did not feel that it should stand in the way of Francis accepting such a prominent position in the war effort. Tribute was paid to his splendid work during the last 13 years, particularly in reference to his training of boys and his improvement of the physical assets of the institution.
• Although Philadelphia is noted for its good 135-pounders, Bob Montgomery (really a native of Sumter, S.C.) is the first Philadelphia fighter to get a crack at the lightweight title since the second Lew Tendler-Benny Leonard scrap in 1923.
• Marion Vance Dawkins Jr., who was awarded in March the Naval Air Medal "for meritous achievement in action" has been promoted from ensign to lieutenant (junior grade). He is now stationed at Norfolk, Virginia. The award from the commander-in-chief, United States Atlantic Fleet in the name of the President of the United States, cited Ensign Dawkins "for meritorious achievement in action and in the line of his profession while participating in an aerial flight as co-pilot of a Navy patrol plane on Jan. 6, 1942, when an enemy submarine was engaged and undoubtedly sunk."
• Robert B. Moise, son of Mr. and Mrs. Moise of Sumter, recently received the Tiger Brotherhood award at Clemson College as the most outstanding athlete-scholar member of the major sports team during the past year. Cadet Moise was presented the award at the Mother's Day parade May 9. The award is made annually to the senior member of a major sports team who stands out not only in athletics, but in scholarship and leadership as well.
50 YEARS AGO -1968
Jan. 14 - 20
Led by the 33-point effort of William Blyther, Lincoln's Bulldogs snapped a three-game losing streak by upsetting Charleston's C.A. Brown, 90-82. Blyther, who scored 15 points in the third quarter, connected on 14 field goals and added five free throws for his total. John Haynesworth tallied 23 points to aid the Lincoln cause. James Banks and Virgil Tucker pumped in 26 points apiece to lead the Brown attack.
• This year's Iris Festival should be the best yet for two good reasons, according to Larry Rogers, president of the Sumter Jaycees. "We have scheduled the festival for the week of May 26 - June 1, the time when the irises will be at their peak," Roger said, "and we also plan to have a lot more special events to interest everyone this year." The Iris Festival's steering committee met and discussed plans with the festival's general chairman, Mac McEwen; parade chairman, Richard Jackson; and queens chairman Jimmy Lee.
• Capt. M. Vance Dawkins Jr., a native of Sumter and currently commanding officer of the Navy's largest air station, located across the bay from San Francisco at Alameda, California, recently bade a warm farewell to Florence County native Capt. Kent L. Lee, commanding officer of the world's only nuclear powered aircraft carrier - the massive USS Enterprise. Capt. Dawkins' parents reside in Sumter while Capt Lee's parents live in Florence County. The occasion of the meeting of two of South Carolina's prominent Naval leaders on the West Coast was the deployment of the USS Enterprise for the Western Pacific.
• Master Sgt. Bobby G. McGee, NC01C of the 353rd Combat Support Group's Small Arms Marksmanship Training Unit, has been selected as Shaw's Outstanding Airman for 1967. He has been nominated to compete for honors as the Tactical Air Command Outstanding Airman. Sgt. McGee's selection was based upon his job accomplishments, community relations and his performance as a representative of the Air Force. Under the leadership of Sgt. McGee, the small arms unit completed renovation of its facilities to provide a compact training area geared to the rapid processing of marksmanship tracers. The improvements resulted in a reduction in time required to qualify an individual from eight hours to four.
• Senior forward Jimmy Trembley tops the Sumter Gamecocks in three departments according to statistics released by Coach Charlie Hodgin. The 6-2, 200-pounder, who was an all-state end for the Birds during the football season, leads the Sumter scoring with 139 points in nine games for a 15.4 average. He has also pulled down 95 rebounds and has connected on 59 of 116 field goal attempts to lead the club in those two categories.
• The new coordinator of South Carolina's Project T-Square is Ruben Gray, a former Sumter attorney. Gray will coordinate the federally funded program aimed at eliminating illiteracy and poverty. His appointment was announced by the T-Square board, headed by Ralph A. Durham of Columbia.
• The Downtown Sumter Improvement Association has come out with a firm recommendation that the city not widen Sumter Street. DSIA's board of directors, after a lengthy session at the Chamber of Commerce, formulated the recommendation according to Gerald Dix, executive vice-president of the Chamber of Commerce, following scrutiny of data contained in the two-year-old Urban and Institute study and a Commercial Area study made by the firm of Lyles, Bissett, Carlisle and Wolff of Columbia.
• After losing to Ashwood-Central earlier in the season, Ben Floyd's Mayewood Rebels turned the tables on A-C, topping them 68-51, in the A-C gym. Pacing the Sumter County Rebels was Robert Watts, who hit the nets for 23 points. Following him closely in the scoring was Charles Thompson with 14.
25 YEARS AGO - 1992
Andy Ford appeared to be a cinch to join the list of talented defensive backs who have graduated from Sumter High and gone on to become successful at the major college level. After a stellar junior season in which he helped the Gamecocks advance to the 4A Division I state title game for the second straight year, Ford entered 1992 high on the prospect list of many college recruiters. And then Ford woke up one morning and couldn't lift his right foot. Ford's condition, according to Sumter High athletic trainer Gary Nelson, has been diagnosed as dropfoot or Peroneal Nerve Palsy. This is an uncommon injury as far as football is concerned. Ford missed three games and is gradually regaining some movement in his foot.
• Norman Partin has been playing slow-pitch softball for the better part of 25 years. During that time he has always played for "the fun of it." Partin will be honored for all of the fun he has enjoyed over the years. Partin along with umpire Wanda Mercer and director Hiram Cook, will be inducted into the South Carolina USSSA Hall of Fame. Partin will be the first player inducted into the hall of fame. He counts it as an honor.
• When Dot Brown put away her bowling ball 10 years ago, she didn't have an idea when she'd use it again. Then one day she decided to pull the old ball out and head to the bowling alley. And just a few months later, the mother of five children threw the first perfect game by a woman at Brunswick Gamecock Lanes. Brown bowled a perfect 300 score to cap a 602 series in the lane's Winter League action. It was the first time a female bowler has ever scored a 300 at Gamecock Lanes.
• Despite Spring Valley's 3-4 record, Sumter High head coach Tom Lewis knew his Gamecocks would be in for a fight when the Vikings visited Sumter Memorial Stadium. Lewis was proven to be right as Sumter had to fight hard to hold off the Vikings 23-13, improving the Gamecocks' overall record to 6-2 and their region mark to 3-1.
• Neil C. Lee Jr. of Hamer caught 122.1 pounds of catfish to place first at the 10th annual National Championship Catfish Tournament held at Randolph's Landing on Lake Marion. Lee won $555 for placing first. Tim Reeves won $333 for placing second with 112 pounds. Perrell Self of Drexel, North Carolina, caught 89.7 pounds to place third and claimed a $222 prize. - Sumter High School Marching Band continued its winning streak by placing first in the Southern States Marching Festival in Camden. The band, under the direction of Joe Allison and Brian Lambeth, placed first at its first competition, the Low Country March-A-Rama, in September. A very talented lineup of bands competed in the Camden competition. Within Sumter High School's AAAA division, second place went to Lexington High School, third place to Summerville High Schoo, and fourth place to Walterboro High School.
• Two Wilson Hall seniors, Kelly Anderson and Jennifer Young, were named as Commended Students in the National Merit Scholarship Program. About 35,000 Commended Students throughout the nation were honored for their outstanding performance on the 1991 Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. Commended Students have shown exceptional academic promise by placing among the top five percent of more than one million program entrants.
• USC Sumter has received a check for $87,556 - the first installment of a federal grant that could add up to nearly a half million dollars over the next two years. "The first-year funds will be used for updating out telephone system to provide better customer services through after-hours coverage," explained Gary Kendrick, USC Sumter's assistant dean for administration, who headed the committee that wrote the grant application.
• The use of downtown buildings - any use - would help revitalize Sumter's degenerating downtown, said downtown property owner Charles Hodge. Hodge owns almost one block of downtown Sumter - a multitude of parking spaces and what appears to be a run-down shopping center, formerly the People's Market - on South Main Street.
• Manning High School tailback Christ Stukes and Hillcrest defensive guard Deandre Singleton have been chosen as the Sumter Touchdown Club High School Football Players of the Week. Stukes, a 5-7 , 160-pound senior, won the offensive award for the second time this year for his play in the Monarchs' 69-0 win over Garret. Stukes carried the ball 25 times for 227 yards and five touchdowns. Singleton, a 5-10, 185-pound senior, earned the defensive award for his play in the Wildcats' 16-14 win over Lancaster. Singleton had 13 tackles and one quarterback sack.
Reach Sumter Item Archivist Sammy Way at email@example.com or (803) 774-1294.