To say Mayor Joseph P. Riley has been an inspiration would be judicious, but would not touch on the true influence he has had on our region.
I have known him as Charleston’s mayor since I was in high school. Joe’s vision of redevelopment for Charleston included the Omni Hotel. I helped my father liquidate Hyman’s Wholesale so the project could be built.
I did not really know his leadership ability until Hurricane Hugo hit in 1989. His firm and forceful message to leave now indubitably saved countless lives. His calm, uncompromising leadership has served the city through times of unrest when many lost faith in government.
He brought many gifts to the city including, but of course not limited to, the Spoleto Festival USA. He concentrated on making the city more livable, his citizens safer and more educated. His strength in the darkest hours provided us an insight to his soul.
He has held the values of the Athenian Oath to the highest: “We will never bring disgrace on this our City by an act of dishonesty or cowardice. We will fight for the ideals and Sacred Things of the City both alone and with many. We will revere and obey the City’s laws and will do our best to incite a like reverence and respect in those above us who are prone to annul them or set them naught. We will strive increasingly to quicken the public’s sense of civic duty. Thus in all these ways we will transmit this City, not only not less, but greater and more beautiful than it was transmitted to us.”