Former Beaufort Mayor Henry Chambers, known for making the city the place it is today, passed away Saturday at the age of 89.
“Henry had a vision that I don’t think a lot of people recognized at first. He always had an idea that Beaufort could be much more of a placeholder on the map than it was,” said Mayor Pro Tem Michael McFee.
Chambers became Mayor of Beaufort in 1969 when it was a lot less inviting.
“Back in the days when the area right below where we’re filming was a rock revetment along the shore of Beaufort and some old wharves,” McFee said.
Now it’s known as Downtown Beaufort with the famous waterfront park, bringing thousands to visit every year.
“That waterfront park is pretty much the prime example of that, the vision he had,” McFee said.
As the mayor for twenty years, Chambers made Beaufort a place people wanted to call home.
“He had an incredible capacity to leverage small city dollars to put in a sewer system so we were no longer dumping in the river, to pave the downtown streets,” said current Mayor Billy Keyserling. “He saved retailers by giving them space other than downtown.”
Chambers doubled the size of the city by bringing in Mossy Oaks and Dataw Island with federal grants and inspired those after him to continue the legacy.
“My mom and Henry were actually classmates at Beaufort High School, and he was probably one of the main reasons I ran for council,” McFee said. “Truly a mentor, truly a great friend, a huge, huge member of our community and will be sorely missed.”
Chambers was also given “The Order of the Palmetto,” South Carolina’s highest civilian award.
He was struggling with bad health for quite a while.
A public memorial service will be held for Chambers on Monday, July 23 at 4:30 p.m. under the covered pavilion at Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park. Everyone is welcome to attend.