An extraordinary life well lived
By Stephan Drew, Editor
During the course of our lifetimes, we meet quite a few memorable people. If we’re lucky enough, we also meet one or two unforgettable ones along the way. The late Mr. Harvey Drawdy was definitely one of the latter. Anyone who has ever met him can tell you that. In addition to being a loving husband, father, grandfather, and even great-great grandfather, Mr. Drawdy was a farmer, military veteran, teacher, principal, coach, hunter, advisor and a youth leader in Darlington for over 40 years, and quite a personality as well.
He was born in Great Falls, SC in 1932 and spent his first 10 years there before moving, with his sister, to live with his grandparents in Tennessee for three years. His first pet was a greyish-brown and white goat named “Stomach Ulcer”, to which he attached a little cart and rode around, half in the cart and half on the goat.
During World War II, Harvey’s father, Willie Eugene Drawdy, was serving in the U.S. Navy while his mother, Flora Hall Drawdy, supported the war effort, working in California. After the war ended, the family moved back to Great Falls, where Harvey graduated and, later, enlisted, during the Korean Conflict.
He married his sweetheart, Merle Louise Camp, while stationed in California before moving back to South Carolina in 1955. He graduated from Newberry College and moved to Darlington in 1958 to teach at Brunson-Dargan Junior High School. After 3 years, and a Masters of Education Degree from the University of South Carolina, he became principal of Pate Elementary School in 1961, where he served for 33 years.
But, he was more than just an educator or administrator. He truly loved all children and was a mentor to so many of Darlington’s youth. But, he held a special place in his heart for youngsters with special needs, providing them with a summer camp as Director of Camp Love.
He had a basic truthful philosophy too, and usually kept things very simple and honest. Darlington County Coronor Todd Hardee fondly recalls, “Harvey taught me many important things. But, one of the most important is the difference between knowledge and wisdom. Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is knowing not to put a tomato in a fruit salad.”
And…he truly loved hunting, especially coon hunting. He served on the board of the Black Creek Hunting Club for over 40 years and those decades come with lots of memories from those who knew hm. I would venture to say that about 80-90% of the coon hunting stories in Darlington County involve the name of Harvey Drawdy. He was either the first one who told about it or (more often) he was there when it happened. And the tales are plentiful. It would take a lifetime to retell them all.
One of his closest friends, Jason Patrick, is a fellow hunter and was constant companion for over 40 years. When asked if he remembers the first time he met Drawdy, Jason said, “No. I can’t remember a time in my life when Harvey wasn’t a part of it.” Jason was 5 years old on November 4th 1978, when Drawdy first took him hunting. He can recall an encyclopedia of memories with Harvey.
He recounted the story of when he and Harvey went “coonhunting with Tom Cruise” in the 1990s. The film, “Days of Thunder”, was being shot at the Darlington Raceway at the time and Harvey, Jason and another fellow decided to go hunting. They didn’t have much luck and the group separated. Harvey and Jason got in their truck and, on the drive home, Harvey suggested, “You know how we could make this hunt more fun?” Jason asked how. Harvey said, “We could tell them we went hunting with Tom Cruise while he was in town.” The two discussed the details and came up with a plausible story. Knowing how famous Harvey was for coon hunting, the tale was believed by most who heard it.
A few days later, Harvey drove up to Jason’s house to find a line of cars, each occupied by people who wanted to go hunting with Tom Cruise. Harvey and Jason had to finally put a stop to it. So, they told the crowd that they were sorry but Tom had to fly to New York and wouldn’t be able to join them. The next week, a woman came up to Harvey and said, “When I first heard y’all went hunting with Tom Cruise, I didn’t want to believe it. And, when I heard y’all say he flew to New York, I thought something was up. But, that night, I turned on the television and, there he was, big as day, Tom Cruise, at this awards show in New York!” To this day, some people still believe it truly happened. That’s just the way things worked out sometimes.
But, Drawdy frequently accomplished the unbelievable. He had a horse named Dan who he taught to “load” himself. Harvey could drop the tailgate of his pickup and Dan would get up in the back of the truck. Unfortunately, Dan also had a mean streak. Drawdy built a small wagoncart out of lumber and parts to hitch up to the horse. Dan, who hadn’t been consulted in this matter, wasn’t really agreeable to the situation. As Harvey was hitching it up, Dan began kicking it to smithereens . In the end, you could put all the pieces in a 5-gallon bucket. One of Harvey’s mottos was “Don’t tell me what you’re going to do. Show me what you’re going to do.”
Drawdy also loved Darlington County immensely and was always thinking of ways to help others. Each year, he planted about 8 acres of vegetables just to give away to the community. When he came home from his job as principal of Pate Elementary School during Daylight Savings Time, he wouldn’t take time to change his clothes. Passersby could see him, up on his tractor, fully dressed in a suit and tie. When asked about it, Harvey said, “Well, there wasn’t much sunlight left and the garden needed plowing.” Jason Patrick said, “That’s just the type of man he was. His Lord came first, then his family and, his friends came after that. “
And, It really offended him to be offered anything for the produce he gave away. He did it out of the goodness of his heart, not for payment of any kind. Ray Conrad said, “Harvey was one of the few people I’ve ever known who lived the good life that he did and nobody could find anything bad to say about him.”
He and his wife were blessed with four children (Stanley, Ricky, Tami and Tiffni), five grandchildren, five great grandchildren and one great-great grandchild. They have been blessed with much joy but, there has been sadness also. Their eldest son, Stanley, who was also a teacher at Brunson-Dargan Junior High School, passed away a few weeks before his father. Harvey Drawdy left this earth on November 5th, 2022. Our hearts and prayers go out to the Drawdy family. He was genuine and unique. A warm, outstanding and authentic person throughout. May you have eternal peace, Harvey. Rest assured, you will never be forgotten.