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Yesteryear by Sammy Way: Sumter WASP killed in plane crash; speedway gets facelift

Posted 3/24/19

75 YEARS AGO - 1944

Oct. 14 - Oct. 20

- Lt. Col. Frank K. Clarke, 40, well-known Sumter attorney, was one of five officers aboard a missing transport plane for which Third Air Force headquarters at Tampa, Florida, was making a widespread …

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Yesteryear by Sammy Way: Sumter WASP killed in plane crash; speedway gets facelift


75 YEARS AGO - 1944

Oct. 14 - Oct. 20

- Lt. Col. Frank K. Clarke, 40, well-known Sumter attorney, was one of five officers aboard a missing transport plane for which Third Air Force headquarters at Tampa, Florida, was making a widespread search. The plane was last heard from at 2:53 Sunday night over Cross City, Florida, when it asked for weather conditions in the Tampa area. The plane had taken off from Athens, Georgia, at 6:24 p.m. for a return trip to Drew Field, Tampa. The weather at Drew Field was good when the plane made its request, and officials expected the plane to land within the hour. Nothing more was heard from it, however.

- Mrs. Jeanne L. Norbeck, 34, WASP, was killed instantly at 5 p.m. when the plane she was piloting on a routine test flight crashed near Highway 15, about six miles from Sumter near Jackson's Store. Officials of Shaw Field said it was the field's first crash involving a member of the Women's Army Service Pilots. Mrs. Norbeck, a native of Columbus, Indiana, is survived by her husband, Cpl. Edward Norbeck, who is stationed at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, and her parents are from Columbus, Missouri.

- Shaw Field's library on air intelligence was enriched by the contribution of a collector's edition of a book which the donor had been holding until the return of his son, a B-17 pilot overseas. The son recently was killed in action over Germany. The gift, a handsomely bound rare edition, came to Shaw following the receipt several days ago of a brief note to Col. D. W. Titus, commanding, from J. B. Folsom, a lifelong resident of nearby Sumter. "I have a book titled 'Man's Fight to Fly', he wrote simply, "which I thought you might like to have at Shaw Field."

- Miss Elizabeth Hepburn has received notice from the Scholastic Press Association of Columbia University, New York City, saying that the Sumter annual for 1944 was awarded the "Medalist" rating, an honor which is given only to a few publications of distinction selected from their top-ranking books. Edmunds High School is to be congratulated on publishing for the third successive year an annual carrying a superior honor rating.

- First Sgt. Alderberry "Bill" Strickland, chief EM of Section B and a native South Carolinian from Anderson, proved the favorite of Shaw's non-coms when he was elected for a second term as president of the Basic Pilot School's famed NCO Club, located one mile from the base at Cherryvale. Strickland won the right for a second semester at the helm of the popular club by polling the majority vote over three opponents seeking the office. The voting had been conducted by secret ballot at the base during the past 10 days.

- New automobile licenses are being issued at a rapid rate, a spokesman at the South Carolina Highway Department office said. "We are handling 75 percent larger crowds this year," he said. The licenses are green with yellow numbers and are made of new tin. Last year, the plates were small metal strips which were clipped to the previous year's licenses.

- With this issue, The Sumter Daily Item completed 50 years of uninterrupted publication under the same management. The first issue was delivered to a few more than 400 subscribers on the afternoon of Oct. 15, 1894, and from that day until today not a single issue of the six-day-a-week publication has been omitted, except for three days in 1928 when all wire service was interrupted when the great storm entirely suspended all power, light and telegraph service in this section for several days. Not even in 1921, when the printing plant was destroyed by fire on the 20th of June, was the Daily Item put out of business. For six weeks, the paper was printed in the plant of the Orangeburg Times and Democrat and delivered each afternoon by rail to Sumter for distribution to subscribers by the regular city carrier boys.

- Sumter High School bounced back into the win column by romping to a 32-7 victory over Lake View before a capacity crowd of fans. With several key players watching the battle from the sidelines, the Birds had little trouble racking up their third victory once they got started. Held to a scoreless tie during the first period, the Gamecocks pushed over a touchdown early in the second and then turned opportunists to grab two more before halftime.

- The diamond jubilee State Fair will open its doors Monday for a six-day run of exhibits and events based on a food for victory theme. The 75th fair will be highlighted by a display of war weapons, furnished by nearby Fort Jackson, in complement to its theme that will be followed in farm and community exhibits. Secretary Paul V. Moore of the State Fair Association said officials were hoping for an attendance of 100,000, with the biggest gate expected for the Carolina-Clemson football game.

- Local post office authorities said that the rush for last-minute mailing of overseas packages is on. The date for mailing has been extended to Oct. 16 because the 15th is a Sunday. Important reminders to the last-minute crowd of mailers: in preparing packages, consider weight - the parcel must not exceed five pounds; size - it must not be more than 15 inches in length or 36 inches in height and girth combined. It should be marked "Christmas parcel" so that it may be given special attention to assure its arrival before Dec. 25.

50 YEARS AGO - 1969

June 15 - June 21

- A 27-year veteran of the armed forces took command of the largest wing in the Tactical Air Command in a change-of-command ceremony. Col. Erwin A. Hesse became commander of the 363rd Tactical Reconnaissance Wing in a flight line ceremony hosted by Brig. Gen. Willard W. Millikan, commander of the 833rd Air Division. Col. Hesse succeeds Brig. Gen. Kendall S. Young, who is leaving Shaw Air Force Base for the post of chief at the Air Force Advisory Group, Tan Son Nhut Air Force Base, South Vietnam.

- The Dixie Youth City Championship will begin at Palmetto Park with four games. The tournament will be a double elimination event involving the top two teams in each of the six leagues. Games will be played at six and eight each evening, and four games will be played on each of the first three days of the tournament.

- A twin-engine Apache plane carrying two passengers made an impromptu landing strip of a muddy soybean field near Bishopville. The plane, piloted by John Thomas Russell Jr. of Washington, Georgia, was carrying Russell and his passenger Billy Stapleton from a business trip in Florence to Washington when one engine gave out. Afraid that the other engine could not carry the Apache to an airfield because of a steady loss of altitude, Russell decided to find a spot to land.

- Preston Taylor Jr., 18, was fatally wounded in Vietnam on June 2. He was born in Clarendon County, son of Mrs. Ruth Adger Taylor and the late Preston Taylor. Taylor was a 1968 graduate of Lincoln High School and had served in the U.S. Army for 11 months.

- Seven Sumter golfers will be among a field of 126 players in the South Carolina Golf Association's Junior Championship. Play in the 54-hole stroke play event will include 36 holes of qualifying before winding up Saturday in flights. One of the Sumter favorites will be 11-year-old John Black in the Pee Wee Division, which includes 10 golfers. Others from the Sumter area playing include Mark Shekitka, James Sampson, Scotty Broome, Gary Stoffel, Ken Pomeroy, Steve Broome and Dwayne Adams.

- A year ago, H.C. Pritchard was saying the 1968 season would probably be his last one since he felt that he was getting a little too old to be competitive with the younger drivers. Many race fans told him that he was crazy and he could still drive with the best of them. He proved Saturday night that he could still drive with the young and old by winning his second late-model sportsman feature event of the season at Sumter Speedway.

- A triple and a single produced the only run for Camden in the ninth inning here, but it was enough to defeat Sumter, 1-0, in a League III American Legion baseball game. It was the third loss of the season for the P-15's against just a lone victory. Camden moves its record to 4-0 on the league, the best the loop has to offer.

- A discussion of urban renewal as a means of downtown redevelopment highlighted the Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors' meeting. Vice president Doug Purdy reported to the board on a trip sponsored by the Downtown Sumter Improvement Association to Rock Hill and Winston-Salem, North Carolina, to study downtown improvements in these cities.

- A bronze marker was dedicated at the spot where in 1927 Paul Redfern, former resident of Columbia, took off from a beach at Sea Island trying to link North America and South America by air. His small monoplane, a Stinson-Detroiter, disappeared after he was sighted 165 miles off the coast of Venezuela on a flight to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

- The architectural firm of James and DuRant has been retained by the YMCA Expansion Fund and is now in the process of preparing plans for the additional "Y" facilities on Miller Road. According to Fred E. Brogdon, president of the YMCA board of directors, the architects have already prepared preliminary plans for approval of the YMCA board and the building committee.

- Sumter School District 17 voters re-elected incumbents Dr. Charles R. Propst and Logan L. Phillips to the district's board of trustees. Propst has served on the District 17 board since 1957. Logan Phillips has served on the school board since 1963.

- Members of city and county government and representatives of local civic organizations and U.S. Department of Agriculture-sponsored agencies met here and agreed that Sumter County should be included in plans for instituting a four-county Resource Conservation and Development Project. The luncheon meeting was called jointly by the Sumter Soil and Water Conservation District Supervisors and the Greater Sumter Chamber of Commerce to discuss the need for and the organization of an RC&D project for Sumter County as part of a four-county planning area comprised of Sumter, Lee, Clarendon and Kershaw counties.

- A host of Sumter P-15 hurlers were blasted by Olanta here as the P-15's took it on the chin for the fourth time this season, 7-2. The home team pounded out 11 hits - five of them for extra bases - against four Sumter hurlers. Starter Ron Teal was the loser despite giving up only one hit.

- Units from Shaw deployed personnel and aircraft to Myrtle Beach Air Force Base and McEntire Air National Guard Base to continue normal operations while the runway is closed for repairs, June 16 to July 16. One thousand feet of the main runway is going to be torn up and repaired at a cost of $240,000. Contractor for the construction is the J.F. Barton Construction Co. of Hamel, Illinois.

- The Sumter YMCA's Day Camp began its 17th year of operation June 9 as 65 boys and girls made the 22-mile trip to Camp Mac Boykin in Manchester State Forest. The camp holds two-week sessions, five of which are scheduled for this summer. Boys and girls leave the YMCA at 9 a.m. each week day and return to Sumter about 5 p.m. each afternoon. The campers' day is filled with recreation and training important to the growth of any youth, according to camp director Bob Partin.

25 YEARS AGO - 1994

March 17 - 23

- A plan to eliminate residential property taxes for schools was shelved by the South Carolina House because it apparently lacked the votes to pass. Limits on local government spending caused enough of a controversy that the bill might never clear the House, said Ways and Means Committee Chairman Billy Boan, the bill's sponsor.

- If anything, it looked like the opposition of nearby homeowners might sink a developer's plan to open a funeral home in western Sumter. But it was an apparent change of heart by the owner of the property where L. Harvin Bullock wanted to put his $500,000 development that has forced him to alter his plans. Because the owner of the lot changed his mind, Bullock was forced to move his plans one lot north on Wilson Hall Road.

- The struggling Lee County Memorial Hospital would receive about $286,000 next year under a proposal by area legislators to tax garbage that will be buried at the local landfill. The state House of Representatives added an amendment to the state budget last week that would require users of the new Lee County Regional Recycling and Disposal Facility to pay a $1 tax on each ton of garbage brought there. The revenue would go to Lee Memorial.

- A drive to start a museum here that would tell the story of cotton in South Carolina - from new crop to its reign as "king" to its modern decline and recent modest revival - has been kicked off. Organizers said Monday they hope to open the South Carolina Cotton Museum on Oct. 22, the Saturday of the weeklong 1994 Lee County Cotton Festival.

- Zandee Brunson looked apprehensive. Her blue eyes were wide behind brown bangs and a white scarf as she peered around the Sumter High School parking lot in the gray light of dawn. With an arm bearing a Minnie Mouse watch, she pulled her mother close. "I love you," she said, burying her face in Mary Brunson's neck. "I love you too, darling," said Brunson, patting her daughter on the back. Zandee was headed for Disney World and Sea World with 10 other members of Sumter High's TMD class. Twenty-two members of the school's Key Club, 11 adult supervisors and four other volunteers were also waiting to board the bus for Orlando.

- Despite two shutout losses, Sumter High School varsity boys soccer coach Jimmy Watson isn't discouraged. His team finished 7-8 overall last season but ended the Region IV-4A schedule 7-3 and placed third. The Gamecocks are 0-2 this season, and Watson isn't closing the door on success just yet.

- Recognizing that the local option sales tax won't be an easy sell, Sumter County Council discussed how to improve the chances of a successful voter referendum on the issue. Councilmen agreed to ask for meetings on the tax with officials from the city of Sumter and the towns of Pinewood and Mayesville, municipalities that would get a share of the revenues from the tax. Sumter Mayor Steve Creech is a strong supporter of the tax.

- Margaret Ellen "Maisie" Roper Burns has been named South Carolina's Mother of the Year - the first Sumterite to receive the award since 1957. Gov. Carroll Campbell presented the annual award to Mrs. Burns, praising her for working in her church and community. The Burns family came to Sumter 44 years ago, when her husband, Dr. C. Benton Burns, came to provide the then-small community with a pediatrician.

- Norman Greene was expecting the worst. When the news he expected did come, it was still a blow. "I was still emotionally shocked when I was told," Greene said of the announcement that his football career at the University of South Carolina has come to an end after suffering three concussions, a fractured jaw and recurring dizziness. "While I had an idea, I still didn't think anything as bad as that would happen."

- When John Campbell took over as the new promoter of the Gamecock Speedway this year, he set out to give the facility a facelift. After many long hours of tearing down, rebuilding, negotiating and selling, Campbell will unveil his "Labor of Love" when the speedway plays host to its first Auto Expo. Campbell has made numerous cosmetic changes to the time-worn race track in the past few months which included renovating the bathrooms, the concessions and grandstands.

- First-year Thomas Sumter boys basketball coach Don Bolton spent a considerable amount of time this past season introducing himself to players and his players to each other. Along the way, the Generals went 23-3 and won the Palmetto Athletic Conference championship. For his efforts, Bolton has been named the 1993-94 Item Independent School Boys Basketball Coach of the Year.

- In four years of pitching for Sumter High School and as many years for the Sumter P-15's, Chad Hoshour has been in his share of tight situations He found himself in another Friday for SHS against Lancaster. With the Gamecocks leading 5-4 in the top of the fifth inning, Lancaster had runners on second and third with no one out. Hoshour responded in much the same fashion as he has at other times in his career. The runners stayed put as Hoshour struck out the side to get out of the inning. The Gamecocks added three runs in the bottom of the inning and two more in the sixth to win 10-4.

- Limited test results show low levels of mercury in largemouth bass and striped bass in the upper third of Lake Marion, state health officials said. But crappie and blue catfish in the upper part of the lake show no discernible mercury levels, said Thom Berry, spokesman for the state Department of Health and Environmental Control.