Environmental attorney James Stuart Chandler Jr. of Pawleys Island died Saturday at age 60 in a Charleston hospital after a battle with cancer.
Chandler was known for winning cases against heavily bankrolled representatives of developments, oil refineries, landfills, marinas and dredging projects.
In the mid-1980s, Chandler won a landmark case in Georgetown County that since has prevented developers from digging canals through South Carolina's vast coastal tidelands. Many consider the Willbrook dredging case one of the most important in coastal environmental law.
Chandler's biggest legal coup might have occurred in 2000, when he and Columbia lawyer Bob Guild persuaded the S.C. Court of Appeals to close a hazardous waste landfill on the shores of Lake Marion. Their fight against the influential Laidlaw/Safety-Kleen waste company had lasted more than 15 years.
Chandler did most of his work for environmental groups and citizens' associations, often at reduced rates or no cost. Even with the financial support of charitable foundations, Chandler never earned much more than a modest living. His nonprofit S.C. Environmental Law Project often proved to be the only obstacle in the way of businesses wanting to build in ecologically sensitive areas.
The Environmental Law Project has about 20 pending court cases, including one challenging huge landfills in Marlboro County and several other rural communities.
The S.C. Wildlife Federation named Chandler Conservationist of the Year in 1989. He also was awarded the Sierra Club's William O. Douglas Award and the S.C. General Assembly's Environmental Awareness Award.
He spent his youth on the creeks and marshes of Georgetown and Pawleys Island. He graduated from Winyah High School in 1968 and Davidson College in 1972. He earned a master's in business administration from the University of South Carolina in 1973 and his law degree from the university in 1977.
After a time in corporate law, he became an attorney for the Wildlife Federation. He was founder and president of the South Carolina Environmental Law Project. He was also a musician and played in a local band.
Survivors include his wife, Rebecca McCarthy Chandler, and teenage daughter, Leigh Caroline Chandler, both of Pawleys Island.
Mayer Funeral Home's Georgetown Chapel is handling arrangements.
Sammy Fretwell of The State contributed to this report.