WEST COLUMBIA - A West Columbia barbecue restaurant operator who once distributed pro-slavery literature at his flagship restaurant has died.

Lloyd Bessinger said that his father Maurice Bessinger was 83 when he died Saturday in Lexington.

Maurice Bessinger raised Confederate flags at his nine restaurants in the Columbia area in 2000 to protest when state lawmakers voted to bring the Confederate flag down from the Statehouse dome.

Lloyd Bessinger said the flag was removed from the final two restaurants last year. He said most of them had been taken down about a year earlier.

Lloyd Bessinger said his father had been at the Carroll Campbell Center for Alzheimer's Care about six months before his death. He said his father had not been active in managing the restaurant company for about seven years.