MONCKS CORNER — Two years ago, when Berkeley County Coroner Glenn Rhoad got sick and lost almost 100 pounds in four months, he started thinking about what was important in life.
After years of getting up in the middle of the night to comfort other people who had lost a loved one, he figured he should spend more time with his own family.
Rhoad got sick because of a gluten allergy, and he's well now. But he has decided not to run for coroner again after nearly eight years on the job. He announced Wednesday that he's backing Chief Deputy Coroner Bill Salisbury.
"I've got about 40 years in Berkeley County government," said Rhoad, who was a captain in the Sheriff's Office and chief of the Pimlico Fire Department before becoming coroner. "I think it's just time to take a little break."
Rhoad, 64, will serve through the end of his term. Berkeley voters will elect his replacement in November 2010.
The coroner's duties include determining the cause of death, safeguarding the deceased's belongings and notifying the next of kin. That often means knocking on a family's door at 2 a.m. to tell them they've lost a relative.
Rhoad and Salisbury say it takes a special temperament.
"It is a rewarding job when you can help families at a tragic time in their life when they lose a loved one," Salisbury said. "I've helped people all my life."
Salisbury, who turns 61 in July, has been with the volunteer Berkeley County Rescue Squad since he was 21 and became chief in 1993. He started volunteering as deputy coroner in 1994, started working part time in 1996 and went full time in 2002.
He graduated from Berkeley High School and worked at the Charleston Naval Shipyard for 27 years, retiring as an air-conditioning and refrigeration supervisor. He sold air-conditioning equipment for a short while before starting with the coroner's office. He also worked for the Sheriff's Office as an evidence custodian.
"I feel like I've got the training, I've got the experience, and I've got the compassion to deal with people," Salisbury said of his campaign for coroner.
He also has served for 12 years on Moncks Corner Town Council. He's a lifelong member of St. Philip's Catholic Church and is married with two grown children.