William Workman III | Obituaries

by | May 13, 2019 3:32 pm

William Workman III

Parker-Rhoden Funeral Home

WALTERBORO – William Douglas Workman III, husband of Patti Fishburne Workman, died May 12, 2019 in Walterboro. Born in Charleston on July 3, 1940, Bill was the son of the late William Douglas Workman Jr. and Heber Rhea “Dimples” Thomas Workman. His early childhood was spent in Walterboro until the end of World War II, when his family moved to Columbia. Bill was graduated from Dreher High School in Columbia, and was a graduate of The Citadel class of 1961. He then served in the United States Army as a member of the S-2 (Intelligence) 7 Artillery Group in Thule, Greenland, and subsequently in the Office of the Chief of Staff for Intelligence in the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. Bill’s military service continued after his active duty, serving in the U.S. Army Reserve before retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel.

Bill began his professional career as a news reporter, first for the Charleston News and Courier, and then for The Greenville News from 1966-1970. It was in Greenville that Bill began working in what became the great love of his professional life: economic development. He taught and served in a variety of roles, including Dean of the Allied Health Sciences Division, of Greenville Technical College in Greenville. After serving as the Executive Assistant to Governor James B. Edwards from 1975-1978, Bill joined Fluor Daniel, Inc., where he worked for many years in industrial relations and project development. During this time, Bill also served in a number of public service roles, including as an at large member of the Greenville City Council. Bill served as Mayor of Greenville from 1983-1995, his tenure being defined by the emergence of Greenville as the economic and culture center of today.

In 1994, Bill began working for Piedmont Natural Gas in Greenville as its Vice President, SC District Operations. He continued his economic development work, serving as President of the Municipal Association of South Carolina, Chairman of the Greenville Area Development Corporation, founding Board member of the Upstate Alliance, and President of the Greenville County Research and Technological Development Corporation, Founders Board of the Peace Center for the Performing Arts, Clemson University Board of Visitors, S.C. Literacy Association (founder), board member of National Bank of South Carolina, Greenville, Upstate SC Chapter, Alzheimer’s Association, Board member, among many others. He was, for many years, a Sunday school teacher for young adults at Buncombe Street Methodist Church in Greenville.

Upon retiring from Piedmont Natural Gas, Bill and Patti moved to the South Carolina Lowcountry in 2006. He was the Town Manager of Bluffton before retiring in 2009. He continued working in retirement as an economic development consultant, serving on the Board of Directors of the Colleton County Economic Development Alliance, and as a commissioner of the Savannah River Maritime Commission.

Bill was the recipient of the Order of the Palmetto in 1978. He was named the 1999 Nelson Mullins Business Person of the Year Award in Greenville, and received the Distinguished Service Award by the South Carolina Economic Developers Association in 2006. Bill was twice named a South Carolina Ambassador for Economic Development, first in 2004 in Greenville, and in 2013 in Colleton County. In summing up his business and political career, Bill once said “Economic development is what I have done for a living and for fun…economic development is a high calling as far as I’m concerned.”

Bill is survived by his wife, Patti Fishburne Workman, his two sons, William D. Workman IV and Frank Morehouse Workman, his three step-daughters, Gage Marks Beerer, Barnwell Johnson Marks and Kemp Marks Bouvia, his ten grandchildren, Nicole Joanna Workman, William Douglas Workman V, Frank Champion  Workman, Grace Elizabeth Workman, Tate Thomas Workman, William Major Workman, Gable Marks Beerer, Sloan Elizabeth Beerer, Gloria Flynn Bouvia and Stella Patterson Bouvia, his sister, Dorrell Workman Benedict and niece, Eaddy Thomas Mays.

Graveside services will be held on Thursday afternoon, May 16, 2019 at the Live Oak Cemetery at 3:00, followed by a celebration of his life at his residence at 109 Silverhill Road, Walterboro, South Carolina.

In lieu of flowers, any donations should be sent to either The Citadel Development Foundation, 171 Moultrie Street, Charleston, SC 29409, or to the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, 322 Eighth Avenue, 7th Floor, New York, NY 10001. Parker-Rhoden Funeral Home, 117 Paul Street, Walterboro, SC 29488 is in charge of arrangements.

comments » 7

  1. Comment by Nancy Orders Smith

    May 13, 2019 at 9:06 pm

    Mike and I were one of the fortunate couples that, along with Bill, were founding members of of the young adult Communion Sunday School Class at Buncombe Street Methodist Church in Greenville SC. Bill was our amazing teacher, mentor and friend. He touched our lives and taught us Biblical Sunday School lessons from his heart. He had a strong Christian Faith which he shared openly each Sunday. He taught us so much and we want his wife, children and grandchildren to know how he touched our lives. We loved him.
    Nancy Orders Smith`

  2. Comment by Donna Pruitt

    May 13, 2019 at 11:33 pm

    Bill Workman was a special man. To say he was unique was an understatement. Bigger than life! He was one of the most intelligent people I have ever known, one of the kindest, and it was truly an honor to have worked for him. Thank you, Bill, for all you did for this City, for this State and, especially, all that you taught me. You were loved. My sincere condolences to his family. – Donna “DP” Pruitt – Greenville, SC

  3. Comment by Cathy White

    May 14, 2019 at 7:49 am

    Prayers for “WD’s” family…he was a special guy. He gave me the name “CW” when he came to PNG and it stuck…I was never called by my first name again😂. We worked hard and had lots of fun under his leadership…he was a true southern gentleman. Cathy “CW” White, retired PNG -Spartanburg

  4. Comment by Garnette Odom

    May 14, 2019 at 12:38 pm

    To Dee and Bill’s family:
    I am so very sorry to learn of Bill’s passing. He was a great man and a good friend. I well remember his handwritten note to me upon the death of my mother in which he said, “A mother’s love is so special …”


  5. Comment by Lauren Susanne Stephens Tomlinson

    May 14, 2019 at 5:04 pm

    I met Bill when I was Miss Greenville and he was Mayor.
    He had such a larger than life personality and never met a stranger.
    When I opened my florist shop on Main St. in Greenville, he attended my ribbon cutting ceremony and reception.
    When walking past my shop he would always stop in to chat and buy flowers.
    He enjoyed discussing growing up in Walterboro and he spoke so highly of his mother.
    He was always positive with his ” words of wisdom” business advice he gave since I was a new entrepreneur.
    He was the true definition of a “Southern Gentleman” and he will be missed.
    Lauren Susanne Stephens-Tomlinson
    Greenville, South Carolina

  6. Comment by Angel Tubbs

    May 14, 2019 at 5:05 pm

    He was truly a bright star always smiling. I loved the time I worked for him in Bluffton SC. In today’s world it is so had to find a true southern man, and Bill was just that, he was truly southern from head to toe. My prayers go out to his family. Bill will be missed, but Heaven has gained a true southern man.

  7. Comment by Fred F Carpenter

    May 15, 2019 at 9:23 pm

    Bill and I worked together on Greenville Chamber business and served together on the Board. In 1995 he approached me about running for Greenville City Council and I was so honored that I took him up on it. I was elected and served briefly with him in his last term. He was a wonderful Mayor and mentor to me and it was common knowledge that “Bill Workman had forgotten more about economic development than anyone in SC would ever learn” I treasure the memories of the times I had with him and will pray for his wonderful family.


  1. Former Greenville mayor William D. “Bill” Workman III dies Sunday at 78

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