COLUMBIA — Moncks Corner Rep. C. David Umphlett Jr, retired vice president for government and consumer affairs for Berkeley Electric Cooperative, died early Sunday at age 69. He had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in December.
Umphlett, who served in the House since 2003, will be remembered for his work preserving open space and protecting the rights of outdoorsmen.
He is survived by his wife of 46 years, Carolyn Mitchum, and their three children, Karen Umphlett, Janet U. Livingston and William D. Umphlett.
Visitation will be between 5 and 7 p.m. today at Moncks Corner United Methodist Church, 200 North Live Oak Drive. The funeral will be at 2 p.m. Tuesday at the church followed by a burial procession at Biggin Church cemetery on S.C. Highway 402.
Arrangements are being handled by Russell Funeral Chapel in Moncks Corner.
In 2007, Umphlett said his goals for public life were simple.
'To serve my constituents to the best of my ability and be open-minded to all of the questions and concerns that they have,' Umphlett said then. 'I serve at the pleasure of my constituents because all legislative seats belong to the people, not to one individual.
'I came to Columbia to be a voice for the people of Berkeley County who elected me and I listen to my constituents. My greatest satisfaction is in knowing that I have heard from enough people back home to make informed and valid decisions on votes.'
House Speaker Bobby Harrell, R-Charleston, said Umphlett will be 'sorely missed.'
'David Umphlett was one of the most decent people I have ever known,' Harrell said. 'He was a straight shooter who had a wonderful way of dealing with people.'
Rep. Mike Pitts, a Laurens Republican and one of Umphlett's closest friends in the Legislature, said he lost a dear friend.
'David Umphlett represented not only his district but the state extremely well and the constituents in his district and their best interests were the most important issues at heart to him,' Pitts said. 'He was the epitome of a fine Southern gentleman.'
Rep. Jim Merrill, R-Charleston, was Umphlett's longtime seat mate in the House.
'David loved serving in the House, more than anything other than his family,' Merrill said. 'He was 100 percent committed to it.
'I think David's ability was to juggle being an elected official while also making everyone feel at ease when they were around him. He handled those things with tremendous grace.'
Umphlett's illness kept him from regularly attending this year's legislative session. His tenure had earned him a coveted seat on the House Ways and Means Committee, where in November he said he hoped to eliminate spending by pushing to consolidate state agencies that performed duplicate work.
Umphlett is a graduate of Berkeley High School and attended Clemson University. He also served in the Army from 1961 to 1964.
He retired in 2004 as vice president for government and consumer affairs at Berkeley Electric Co-op.
He enjoyed hunting and fishing and was a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association. He worked to pass legislation establishing an alligator hunting season in South Carolina.
Umphlett served on the Berkeley Soil and Water Conservation District for 14 years, the South Carolina Land Resources Commission for three years, among other public service positions. He was a member of American Legion Post 126.
He was a longtime member of the House Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs Committee. He was in the running for committee chairman, but dropped out of the race when he gained a seat on the powerful Ways and Means Committee.
His goals for public service were to find ways to lower taxes, improve state roads and highways and help clean up the environment. He easily won re-election and rarely faced opposition.
He represented District 100, which includes a sprawling section of Berkeley County, taking in Cordesville, Pimlico, Macedonia, Moncks Corner and Whitesville.
A special election will be held to fill his unexpired term, likely in the fall.
In addition to his wife and children, Umphlett is survived by his stepmother, Virginia S. Umphlett, four sisters and a brother and four grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by his father and mother, Clyde D. Umphlett Sr. and Dorothy R. Fiorello.
Reach Yvonne Wenger at 803-926-7855.