Ordie C. Brown of St. George received the Order of the Palmetto, the state’s highest civilian honor, on June 7. The presentation was made by Governor Henry McMaster.
Brown, who served on the board of Edisto Electric Cooperative for 48 years, was recognized during a conference of electric cooperatives during which McMaster spoke to the group and noted Brown’s lifetime of service before calling him on stage to present the award..
The retired soybean and corn farmer and carpenter is thought to be the longest serving African American electric cooperative board member in the country. He was vice chairman of the board before retiring this year after serving since 1974.
He served on the Dorchester County Election Commission for 20 years and on the boards of Farm Bureau, the Shady Grove Camp Meeting and the St. George Fairground Committee. He was a founding organizer of the Reevesville American Legion Post #256.
Brown was born in St. George and attended the segregated St. George Rosenwald School for the entirety of his education and played on its championship basketball team in high school. The Rosenwald School Project, a partnership of Julius Rosenwald and Booker T. Washington, built more than 5,000 schools for African American children in the early 20th century.
Brown is a proud member of the Williams Memorial Alumni Association, the group charged with restoring the Rosenwald School and designated historic site. The newly preserved building will soon be a museum and community center. He was also instrumental in the creation of the Adopt-A-Highway program to clean up the roads surrounding the Rosenwald School.
At 93, he remains an active member of St. Mark United Methodist Church where he has been a member since the 1930s.
Brown and his late wife, Corine, had two children and four grandchildren and were married for 57 years.