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Citadel News Service
11 Sep 2009

'74 grad receives state's Order of the Palmetto award

Thomas McQueeney, a member of The Citadel Board of Visitors, received one of the state’s highest honors Friday during a military dress parade. 

Photo
Tommy McQueeney

Gov. Mark Sanford presented McQueeney, a resident of Mount Pleasant, with the Order of the Palmetto Award, South Carolina's highest honor bestowed upon a civilian.

“It would be easy to point to specific accomplishments that merit the Order but in facto your entire life and career have been marked by a level of commitment to South Carolina that brings enormous credit to our state,” Sanford said. “The sheer number of community and charitable organizations to which you’ve given time and resources is incredible. That kind of generosity is virtually unequalled.”

Gov. John C. West presented the first Order of the Palmetto in 1971. Many of the early awardees were foreign businessmen being recruited to invest in South Carolina. Over the years, the use of the award has varied from administration to administration and has been used to recognize outstanding achievements of South Carolina citizens, contributions to South Carolina and as a political reward. Concern by the public over misuse of the award led Governor Hodges to set up a non-partisan panel in 1999 that established criteria and a nomination process for this award and the Order of the Silver Crescent.

McQueeney graduated from the Citadel in 1974 with a degree in English, and has worked as a State Farm insurance agent since 1982. He is currently a member of The Citadel Board of Visitors, The Citadel Foundation Board of Directors and The Citadel Brigadier Foundation Memorial Fund Board. He served as the chairman (2003-2008) of the new Johnson Hagood Stadium revitalization project, a $44.5 million joint use project with the South Carolina National Guard. McQueeney worked closely with U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham and former Charleston County Council Chairman Tim Scott to secure critical funding.

He has been active in community, state and national affairs to include chairing the Charleston Metro Sports Council, the proposed Palmetto Bowl Committee, and the Southern Conference Basketball Championships, among other local efforts. Col. McQueeney has served in similar capacities with the National Kidney Foundation, the American Red Cross and the American Cancer Society. He has initiated a successful statewide Teddy Bear program for the Red Cross. He was also involved in facility expansion fund-raising for the Ronald McDonald House and Our Lady of Mercy Outreach on John’s Island in Charleston.

In 2007, McQueeney authored an important Best Practice initiative for the National Council on Readiness and Preparedness (NCORP), an offshoot from the federal Gilmore Commission, chaired by former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore. McQueeney has also been active in volunteering for many hurricane relief efforts, most notably Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

In 1999, responding to a friend dying of cancer, McQueeney founded Santa’s Kind Intentions, Inc., a small organization that provides Christmas to the needy in the tri-county area of Charleston. In addition to reaching hundreds of local families, McQueeney has played the role of Santa Claus at MUSC Children’s Hospital for the last 11 years on Christmas Eve.

He has also been active in various roles with the Knights of Columbus Council 704 as Grand Knight, trustee and Turkey Day Run chairman. He has served the Quis Qui Club as president, the Hibernian Society of Charleston as past secretary and managing committee member, as past director of the Patriot’s Point Maritime Museum Foundation, secretary-treasurer of the Bishop England High School Special Projects Board, past board member of the Coastal Council of Explorer Scouts and various other community and church organizations. McQueeney has been a member of the Exchange Clubs of America for 30 years.

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