Senator Frank L. Roddey
A Driving Force Behind the SC SBDC
Senator Frank L. Roddey of Lancaster County spent his career in service to his fellow South Carolinians. Known as Son Roddey to colleagues, friends and family, Senator Roddey started his life of serving others early as a pharmacist’s apprentice at a downtown Lancaster drug store. It was well known back then that Son would leave home at any hour to fill a prescription for a sick neighbor.
Senator Roddey served his local community with distinction in the 1950s as a leader of the Jaycees and the local chamber of commerce. He also served on the Lancaster City Council for eight years. He was defeated in a race for mayor, so his bid for a senate seat in 1962 was seen as a long shot. He faced a powerful incumbent, a man with top seniority. Nevertheless, he won and Senator Roddey soon made good on his promise to bring new industry to his area. In less than a year after he took office, Senator Roddey assisted in bringing five new industries into Lancaster County.
Senator Roddey was chairman of the Senate Labor, Commerce and Industry Committee, a ranking member of that body’s Finance Committee, chairman of the Joint Bond Review Committee, chairman of the Election Laws Study Committee and chairman of the Tourism and Trade Study Committee. He was also chairman of the State Reorganization Committee, chairman of the Healthcare Planning and Oversight Commission and chairman of the Nursing Home’s Study Committee. He was an ex-officio member of the SCPRT Commission, member of the Senate Finance Committee, the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee and the Senate Medical Affairs Committee.
During his tenure in the South Carolina Senate, he worked to help form a Small Business Development Center in South Carolina. In 1979, South Carolina was selected as one of thirteen pilot projects in the United States. The program was such a success that the federal government moved forward with establishing similar programs in states throughout the country.
Unfortunately, Senator Roddey died in 1979 and so did not live to see his advocacy of the Small Business Development Centers find fruition. Because of his tireless work to promote small business within South Carolina and his efforts to establish an SBDC network in the state, in 1980, the SBDC board of directors decided to name the network the Frank L. Roddey Small Business Development Centers.
Senator Roddey was known as a man of hard work, strong leadership and high integrity who kept the lines of communication open between labor, management and government. Following his death, Senator Roddey’s papers were donated to the Winthrop College Library in Rock Hill. The papers are available to researchers studying South Carolina politics.
While the network was rebranded in 2012, Senator Roddey’s influence is still appreciated today by all involved with the South Carolina Small Business Development Centers.