MOUNT PLEASANT -- Former Mayor Harry M. Hallman Jr. still enjoys the morning papers and socializing with friends at the town's new retiree center. He also meets buddies for a drink in the afternoon.
"I feel good. I have good days and bad days. Thank God I have more good days than bad days," Hallman said of his battle with Alzheimer's disease.
Hallman, 76, said he is blessed to be surrounded by friends and a loving family, particularly his wife Brooke. He is not one to dwell on the past. "I'm the kind of fellow who never looks back," he said. "If you look back, you're doomed. I'm the luckiest fellow in the world to have Brooke Hallman at my side."
He spends Saturdays with his daughter, Terri Hallman Chapman. They made a road trip to Columbia for chili dogs. They often go to Memorial Waterfront Park to see how things are going there. It was a project guided to fruition during Hallman's tenure as mayor. "I think it's a reflection of the community, not just me. I enjoyed every project. I like to see something come together," he said.
Hallman stays active with what he calls "social therapy" at the new Thomasena Stokes-Marshall Senior Center. However, he has to pace himself. "I can't go 15 rounds," he said. He has been diagnosed with a leg problem that keeps him from standing up too long. He walks with a cane.
A group of more than 30 family and friends turned out Thursday at Waterfront Park to honor his service to the town and the state. "Well, mayor, you still pull a big crowd. Look at all these people," said Deputy Town Administrator Eric DeMoura.
Those attending the event in honor of Hallman included Mayor Billy Swails and Council members Stokes-Marshall, Linda Page, Elton Carrier, John Burn and former Councilman Kruger Smith, who served as acting mayor in the wake of Hallman's departure.
Arthur Ravenel Jr., the namesake for the new bridge connecting the town and Charleston, said Hallman was a key player in securing funds for the span. "It's the only thing that has ever been built in Charleston that no one complains about. And Harry Hallman built it," Ravenel said.
Hallman said great accomplishments are not the work of one person but happen as a result of a team effort. "I couldn't have done it without everybody in this room," he said.
The town unveiled a plaque at the entrance to the park in Hallman's honor. It details his service to the town and the state, including time spent as a lawmaker in the House of Representatives and a member of governing boards for agencies, such as the state Department of Health and Environmental Control.
He was elected mayor in September 2000 and re-elected in 2004. Council extended its terms by 14 months during Hallman's second term so that the town elections would happen during the November general elections, a move billed as a way to increase voter interest in the town election.
The plaque honoring Hallman lists his accomplishments. "Mayor Hallman's administration was responsible for unprecedented construction of highways and recreation facilities as well as establishing innovative and strategic land-use planning and growth-management policies," it reads, in part.
Hallman, a barber's son, is a Greenwood native and former oil executive and stock market investor. He concluded 21 years of public service when he resigned as mayor in May. He revealed in June 2008 that he had been diagnosed with symptoms consistent with the early stages of Alzheimer's disease. At the time, he said that he intended to serve out his term but eventually left office with six months remaining in his term.
He was a driving force behind road-improvement projects and the development of the $14 million Waterfront Park that opened in July next to the Ravenel Bridge. He led the charge for a renovated Congressional Medal of Honor Museum on the Yorktown. During his time as mayor, the town embarked on projects such as revitalization of Coleman and Johnnie Dodds boulevards, a Shem Creek park and U.S. Highway 17 improvements.