Every October, Historic Columbia gathers its members, including staff and board, to review the accomplishments of the previous fiscal year and present future endeavors at their Annual Meeting. At this year’s meeting, which was held on Thursday, Oct. 25, the organization invited friends and coworkers to honor long-time Richland County Councilman Greg Pearce, who will be retiring from public office this December.
The day after he graduated from high school at age 17, he started a “summer student program” with the Department of Mental Health for college-bound high school graduates, who filled in for mental health specialists on vacation. Pearce said he “fell in love” with mental health work and continued working summers at the South Caroline State Hospital throughout college. After graduation, the Department of Mental Heatlh hired him and paid for his graduate education. Over his 35-year career, Greg worked as a psychologist, the program director of the Developmental Disabilities Unit, and facility director of the Crafts-Farrow State Hospital.
Pearce knew that he wanted to work in public service and continue to help people, so he then ran for Richland County Council in 1998 and has faithfully served his council district and the county as a whole since. He understood the value of having an active cultural community and threw his support behind organizations like the Township Auditorium, the Columbia Museum of Art and Historic Columbia.
Pearce's advocacy resulted in increased operating support as well as unprecedented funds for major capital repairs at the two county-owned sites that Historic Columbia manages. In 2014, the Woodrow Wilson Family Home reopened as the nation’s only museum of Reconstruction and received awards and recognition at local, state, regional and national level. It is fitting that he helped cut the ribbon this spring at the Hampton-Preston Mansion, where his support led to a $1.2 million-dollar rehabilitation of the building and grounds that will hopefully be met with the same recognition as the Wilson site.
When Pearce retires his post at the end of the year, his presence will be missed, but his legacy will be firmly entrenched across Richland County. Historic Columbia has benefited from Pearce’s support and council and the community has benefited as result.