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‘He’s the real McCoy’

City honors Perry McCoy with Legacy Leadership Bench

Posted: June 14, 2018 4:48 p.m.
Updated: June 15, 2018 1:00 a.m.
Jim Tatum/C-I

Perry McCoy with his family.

A large crowd of family, friends and admirers gathered the morning of June 8 in Monument Square to honor long-time Camden citizen Perry McCoy with a Leadership Legacy Bench.

McCoy, who has lived in Camden for more than 50 years, is known for his good nature, generous spirit and intense work ethic. Or as long-time friend Richard Lackey said, “Whatever needs to get done, he gets done.”

Mayor Alfred Mae Drakeford and City Arborist Liz Gilland welcomed the group to the ceremony.

“We are honoring a man who has spent a lifetime working for the betterment of this community,” Drake ford noted. “We are here to say, ‘thank you.’”

Lackey talked about McCoy’s work ethic, energy, and devotion to God and country.

“I’ve known Perry McCoy for about 50 years. My earliest recollection was that he was always in a hurry,” Lackey said, eliciting laughter from McCoy and the crowd.

But Lackey’s lighthearted observation quickly turned serious, as he noted how McCoy lost two older brothers during WW II -- one Missing In Action, the other Killed In Action. He noted that McCoy had a very high draft number -- indeed, he might never have been drafted -- so he enlisted and volunteered to become a paratrooper. He would arrive in Japan just after the war ended, but is listed as a WW II veteran, Lackey said.

“Fast forward to a more recent time,” Lackey said. “In about the year 2000, the Camden American Legion Post, one of the oldest posts, was in great need of revitalization. Perry was a long-time member, but mostly inactive. However, he was asked to become Commander. Being a ‘get it done’ guy, he took command and served as commander for six terms -- longer than anyone else ever has.”

During that time, McCoy accomplished many important achievements, including a peak membership --  the highest in post history -- a stable financial situation, many youth and community service projects and the publication of a very thorough and rich history of the post.

“You might wonder why Perry has put so much time and effort into the Legion post,” Lackey said. “I don’t really know, but at the beginning of every meeting, we have a time to remember all POWs and MIAs that have never returned or been found. At that time a special flag is placed on an empty chair to remind us to remember them. When Perry is called to place that flag, I always wonder what his thoughts are.”

Long time friend Jim McGuirt also spoke of McCoy’s willingness to get things done because they need to be done.  McCoy is constantly looking for ways he can help make things better, McGuirt said.

“He is the ‘real McCoy,’ a silent icon,” McGuirt said.  “He’s always in the background and he’s always making an impact, but does not want any recognition for what he does. He’s done so many things for so many people that no one knows about -- his attitude is that if he can do it and it will help, he will do it. He is always gracious with his money and his time.”

McCoy thanked everyone for attending the ceremony, saying that he is undeserving of such recognition but greatly humbled and appreciative. He also spoke of the many blessings Kershaw County enjoys and pointed out he is lucky to be able to live in such a place and glad to serve his community.  He said he was especially appreciative of the community’s support of The Wall That Heals, the mobile Vietnam War memorial that came to Camden in May.

“This is our time to bless you because you have blessed so many,” Gilland said. “We hope you enjoy your bench for many years to come.”

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