Major Bethea

Major Bethea, son of the late Benjamin and Sarah McClain McNair, was born on April 3, 1926 in Robeson County. The family has lived in Dillon County for most of his adult life. “Mr. Major” as he was formally called, departed this life on Thursday morning, January 17, 2019.

Mr. Major, a World War II veteran of the U.S. Army, was stationed in Manila in 1946 where he served his country well. He later received an honorable discharge and made a decision to complete his education. In 1947 Mr. Major married the love of his life, the former Miss Hattie M. McDuffie of Dillon County, and into this union, they bore six children: Cynthia (James), Karl (Robin), Christopher, Cheryl (Stone), Terrance (Brenda), and Pamela (Lavonda). They are also the proud grandparents of thirteen grandchildren. Mr. Major was a 1952 honors graduate of Denmark Technical College, Denmark, South Carolina. He had acquired a trade in tailoring while attending the technical college. He completed the Dale Carnegie Personal Development Business Law courses at Francis Marion University, Florence, South Carolina.
Mr. Major was the owner of Major’s Cleaners Laundry and Alterations, Inc. in Dillon, S.C. The business opened in 1955 and has been successfully in continuous operation for 64 years. It is the only successful minority-owned business in the Pee Dee Region to remain operating for that length of time.
Mr. Major, a Dillon businessman and community leader, has been selected and named “Businessman of the Year” by the Business Advisory Council for several consecutive years. The list recognizes the top U.S. business leaders who have successfully integrated into business and financial success with the support of political issues, like tax cuts or debt reductions. The Wall Street Journal selected Mr. Bethea along with 32 others from South Carolina as 2006 Businessman of the Year. He received invitations to The NRCC Tax Reform Workshop and Spring Galas in Washington D.C, formal recognition and photo opportunity with members of Congress at the Tax Reform Conference.
Mr. Bethea has received many outstanding honors and distinguished memberships during his career. They include a Presidential Citation in recognition of exemplary experience from Denmark Technical College and the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education; member of the National Registry of “Who’s Who” published in 2006 edition; Distinguished Alumni Award, Certificate of Merit; Alumni Recognition Participant Award Christian Brotherhood Club; over 35 years of dedicated services on the Board of the Pee Dee Council of Government; Licensed Blind Vendor Vending facility of 2000; Selective Service System Local Board No. 17; St. Eugene Community Hospital Advisory Board; Concerned Citizens, Dillon-Marion Economic Opportunity Community Action Program 8th Award; Philippines Annual Conference Appreciation Award-West Metrio-Manila District; and he received a personal invitation as a guest to attend the President’s Dinner with the President of the United States, George W. Bush in Washington, DC. In 1993, Mr. Bethea returned to the Philippines as a member of the United Methodist Volunteer in Mission (UNVIM). As part of a 20-member missionary team on this trip, he helped build a dormitory which would be used by a United Methodist Church retreat center. The dormitory would also house students studying for the ministry at the United Theological Seminar, which would be located there. In 1998, Mr. Bethea felt called to fulfill all the necessary requirements and was recognized as a Certified Lay-Speaker-Preacher in the United Methodist Church. He and his devoted wife served faithfully as active members of McCoy Chapel United Methodist Church, Little Rock, S.C.
Mr. Bethea was honored and inducted into The Pee Dee Black Hall of Fame and recognized in several articles during Black History Month. It was fitting and proper to recognize the many accomplishments of Major Bethea by naming an intersection in the Town of Dillon in his honor in 2017. It was resolved by the House of Representatives, the Senate concerning that the members of the S.C General Assembly request that the Department of Transportation name the intersection located at Calhoun Street and MacArthur Avenue in the City of Dillon, “Major Bethea Intersection” and erect appropriate markers or signs at this intersection.
Mr. Bethea was sought out to speak in many local churches, civil groups, and community organizations, as well as ministry in Bible studies. Mr. Bethea will always be remembered as a true servant in seeking to bring about Spiritual renewal in the lives of many. He will truly be missed in the Dillon Community.

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