Clinton, South Carolina
Donny Wilder, born March 9, 1932, was the son of the late Shadie S. Wilder and Robert P. Wilder. He peacefully passed away on November 2, 2021 with his family by his side.
Donny Wilder, once a promising football player, contracted polio at the age of 13, cutting his athletic aspirations short. His English teachers encouraged him to use his knowledge of football to begin writing for the school’s newspaper. He continued his work on newspapers in Morehead City, NC, Spartanburg, SC, Rock Hill, SC, Sarasota, FL, and Shelby, NC, before becoming the editor and publisher of the Clinton Chronicle, a position he held from 1967 until 1987. He was publisher of the Whitmire News and President of the South Carolina Press Association in 1974. He also was co-owner of the Radio Station WPCC from 1985 to 1993.
He served in SC House District 15 as Representative from 1992-2002 and was instrumental in the development of Musgrove State Historic Park which is located on Highway 56, a portion of which is named in his honor. He received the Order of the Palmetto, the state’s highest civilian honor in 2002. For Donny, it was never a matter of putting political parties above service itself, it was about remembering to make people a higher priority than votes. The same applied for his career as a journalist. Donny believed that communities are more important than headlines.
After earning a BA degree at Furman University, he married the former Gene Elliott (Genie) Marshall of Rock Hill. Donny and Genie were married for 65 years until her death on December 19, 2018. They had one son, Robert P. (Bob) Wilder II of Isle of Palms, two granddaughters, Shay Wilder Monroe (Husband, Skylar Monroe) of Wadmalaw Island, Gene Elliott Wilder of Johns Island, a great-grandson, Marshall Monroe, and a great-granddaughter, Sophie Monroe.
He was an elder emeritus at First Presbyterian Church in Clinton where he served as deacon, clerk of session and elder. He also served as chairman of the board of the Clinton Family YMCA, on the board of directors of Hospice of Laurens County, the Boards of Visitors of Presbyterian College and Directors of the Palmetto Conservation Foundation.
Donny Wilder had countless achievements but his greatest accomplishment was being the very best friend, husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather. Donny’s family would like to thank the wonderful medical staff of East Cooper Medical Center, the staff at The Palms Assisted Living Facility, and his caregivers, Willie Mae Fortson and Mary Moree, for the incredible care they provided. A private Celebration of Life will be held at a later date at his favorite place, Fripp Island. Memorials may be made to the Wilder Scholarship Fund at Presbyterian College or a charity of one’s choice.