His name was Peden McLeod, but it could just as well have been “Mr. Walterboro.”
The 1967 graduate of the University of South Carolina School of Law believed in public service and was commander of the town’s American Legion Post, district chairman of the Boy Scouts of America and a member of just about every civic organization in Walterboro, including the Jaycees, Lions Club, the Elks Lodge and the Moose Lodge. He was also a founder, chairman and CEO of the Bank of Walterboro (now Bank of the Lowcountry).
It’s fitting, then, that the only building named for an individual on the USC Salkehatchie campus in Walterboro honors McLeod, who as a state legislator worked tirelessly to establish and support the campus, which became the eastern hub of USC Salkehatchie in 1979.
The Peden McLeod Library, part of the old Walterboro High School campus now used by USC Salkehatchie, was dedicated in 1998. That was the same year McLeod received the Order of the Palmetto for his service in the legislature and as Code Commissioner and director of the Legislature Council.
“When Dad passed away last year, the obituary suggested donations to his church and the Peden McLeod Library, and we provided matching funds for Giving Day this past spring,” says his son Reaves, a 2002 School of Law graduate who taught political science as an adjunct at USC Salkehatchie years ago.
Funds raised for the McLeod Library will make substantial and much needed changes to its interior appearance, according to USC Salkehatchie Dean April Cone.
“The library’s last makeover was in the 1970s, so it looks very dated,” Cone says, “especially with the very modern iCarolina Learning Lab that was placed in the library as part of an initiative from the governor’s office. You walk through an antiquated portion of the library to get to the learning lab, which is a resource not only for our students but also for the whole community.”
Giving Day gifts, coupled with matching funds from Peden McLeod’s children — Reaves, Brown McLeod, Lane Perry and Mary Carlisle Benson — and a donation from Bank of the Lowcountry brought in substantial resources to begin refreshing the library’s interior. Funding needed to complete the library renovation came from Charleston attorney and USC School of Law graduate Mullins McLeod, who is Peden McLeod’s nephew.
“In my family, we were raised to know that to whom much is given, much is expected in return, and few people have cared more and done more for others than my Uncle Peden,” Mullins McLeod says. “My donation honors his life of service and, hopefully, gives back in some small respect to the community that I grew up in.”
Cone says support for the library renovations mirrors the community’s affection for the campus.
“These donations really characterize the strong community ties that families have in our region, and it shows the donors’ love for the college and the community,” Cone says. “Education is something no one can ever take from you. It opens doors that you never knew even existed.
“I think that there are many community members who share our vision and realize that an educational background can not only benefit themselves but also help move our community forward.”