Pat Conroy, '67, named 2009 S.C. Hall of Fame inductee
Pat Conroy, a nationally acclaimed author and Citadel graduate, is one of two people to be inducted this week in the South Carolina Hall of Fame.
The South Carolina Hall of Fame is sponsored by the state, city of Myrtle Beach and Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce. It was dedicated Feb. 11, 1973, by Gov. John C. West to recognize and honor those contemporary and past citizens who have made outstanding contributions to South Carolina’s heritage and progress. Inductees are selected by the Confederation of South Carolina Local Historical Society, which picks one contemporary and one deceased nominee to honor annually. Past inductees include President Andrew Jackson, jazz legend Dizzy Gillespie, Sen. J. Strom Thurmond, and astronaut Charles M. Duke Jr.
The formal 2009 induction ceremony was, March 18 at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center, where the hall of fame is located.
Regarded as one of the nation’s most popular writers, Donald Patrick “Pat” Conroy authored seven novels, many of which became national best-sellers and major motion pictures.
Born 1945 in Atlanta, Ga., Conroy attended high school in Beaufort, S.C., and graduated from the Citadel in 1967 with a degree in English. He taught English in Beaufort after graduation. Later, he taught underprivileged children in a one-room schoolhouse on Daufuskie Island. After a year he was fired for his unconventional teaching practices.
“The Water Is Wide” (1972) exposes the racism and appalling conditions his Daufuskie Island students endured. The book won Conroy a national humanitarian award and was made into the feature film “Conrack,” starring Jon Voight.
After moving to Atlanta, he wrote “The Great Santini” (1976). This autobiographical work, later made into a movie starring Robert Duvall, explored the conflicts of his childhood, particularly his relationship with his father, a U.S. Marine Corps fighter pilot. The Citadel became the subject of his next novel, “The Lords of Discipline” (1980). The novel, which was also made into a film, dealt with harsh discipline, racism and sexism at a fictional military school.
Conroy then moved to Rome, Italy, where he began “The Prince of Tides” (1986), his most successful book. With more than 5 million copies printed, “The Prince of Tides” earned Conroy an international reputation. The book was made into a film directed by Barbra Streisand, who starred opposite Nick Nolte. The film earned seven Academy Award nominations including one for Conroy for best screenplay.
Other novels include “Beach Music” (1995), set in South Carolina and Rome, and “The Pat Conroy Cookbook: Recipes of My Life” (1999), a collection of his favorite recipes and stories of his life, many about living in South Carolina. His two works of nonfiction are “The Boo” (1970) and “My Losing Season” (2002), about his senior year on The Citadel basketball team. Conroy’s upcoming novel, “South of Broad,” should be published in August 2009 and offers a historic look at Charleston.
Conroy’s work has been recognized with numerous awards and honors including the National Endowment for the Arts Award for Achievement in Education (1974) and the Lillian Smith Award for Fiction from the Southern Regional Council (1981). Closer to home he has received the Thomas Cooper Library Society Literary Award, University of South Carolina (1995); Governor’s Award in the Humanities for Distinguished Achievement, South Carolina Humanities Council (1994); and the Order of the Palmetto (2002).
This year’s other inductee is King Hagler, an 18th century Catawba Nation chief who had a reputation as peacekeeper with other tribes and colonists.
“I am extremely privileged to be able to honor both of these remarkable contributors to the state of South Carolina by inducting them into the official South Carolina Hall of Fame,” remarked Leo Twiggs, chairman, board of trustees for the South Carolina Hall of Fame.
Editor's Note: Special thanks to the South Carolina Hall of Fame for this news release.