NEWBERRY — Jim Hale, director of Planned Giving at Newberry College, loves the many connections he’s made while spending his time in Newberry.
Born in Altoona, Pa., Hale was born to Harry Arther and Leona Hale. He had one sister, Georgia, who was seven years older than he was.
“Georgia on my mind,” said Hale, 73. “That’s how I used to tease her growing up.”
From the time he was a “little guy,” Hale said he enjoyed playing street football, even if it was the cause of a concussion when he was younger. “I argued with the side of the curb, and woke up seeing things,” Hale said.
When he was about 12 years old, Hale said he also enjoyed playing the trumpet.
While in Pennsylvania, Hale’s father was working in the silk mill industry when he was transferred to a mill in South Carolina. Hale was 12 years old at the time and from the eighth grade on, attended Cheraw High School.
“I was in band there, and was involved in pretty much things all kids get involved in at that age,” Hale said.
After graduating from high school, Hale had a scholarship to attend the University of Florida, but looked into schools in South Carolina instead. He attended Wingate University his freshman year, transferring to Newberry College after his first year to pursue a degree in music.
“It didn’t take me long to realize I liked music, but didn’t want to do that as a major,” Hale said. “I got involved in political stuff on campus, and took some history and political science courses.”
Realizing his true passion, Hale graduated from Newberry College with a degree in History and Political Science, with a minor in English. Although he considers himself in the Class of 1963, Hale actually graduated in 1964. He came back to take teaching classes so that he may find a job, while waiting to get his acceptance into law school.
The Married Life
Another reason Hale agreed to stay in the Newberry area a while longer after graduating, was Charlene Stoll, who was a junior at the time at Newberry College. The two were married in 1963, moving in with a friend in a Newberry apartment until they could get on their own feet.
Charlene worked at Turner’s Jewelry downtown when she was in school, while Hale said he became a spare hand at Oakland Mill. Hale said he would show up, hoping they would have work for him to do each day.
“I got to do all of the parts that nobody else wanted to do or someone just happened to be out,” Hale said. “I had worked in my dad’s mill as a teenager so I knew some things about what to do and where to be.”
After working at the mill about six months, Hale had completed his practice teaching courses at Newberry and was hired at Little Mountain Elementary School teaching sixth grade for the next year. “Four to five of the kids I taught actually ended up at Newberry College later,” Hale smiled.
In 1964-65, Hale went to the University of South Carolina and was admitted to the department of International Relations, where he began working on his Master’s degree. Almost a year later, Hale got a job working with vocational rehabilitation in Columbia, where he worked for a year and a half before law school. He and his wife moved to Columbia, where he said they had apartments similar to those of USC students.
Welcome to Law School
Although Hale said he wasn’t accepted immediately, he had received all of his courses from Newberry College and applied for the law school at USC. In spite of the fact they were not supposed to maintain jobs while going through law school because of the already strenuous work load, Hale said he maintained work with the vocational rehabilitation center as a part time counselor with children that came out of family court.
“It was kind of busy,” Hale said. “I’d go to class in the morning, and when class was over, I’d go get something to eat and then go to work from 1:30-5 p.m. and then I’d go get a sandwich and head to the law school library and working in the stacks and studying until 11-12 at night. Whenever they closed the library is when I left.”
Because he spent most of his nights in the library, Hale described an interesting experience he went through on the night of Martin Luther King Junior’s assassination.
There had been a mandatory curfew in Columbia that night, and Hale said he had no idea what had been going on. “When I left to go home, it was about 11:30 at night, and I was driving home to the other side of town, oblivious to what was going on,” Hale said.
While driving home, Hale said he was stopped by two squad cars, where the officers questioned him as to where he was going and why he was out during the curfew.
“It was an interesting experience, because I had no idea what was going on. I had an escort all the way to my apartment,” Hale said.
A New Step
Hale graduated from law school at the University of South Carolina in 1970, spending the next four to five months still working for the vocational rehabilitation center in Columbia. Hale received a phone call from a friend encouraging him to apply for a job at the governor’s office.
Taking his friend’s advice, Hale was hired as a coordinator of juvenile delinquents.
By this time, Hale had passed his bar exam. “You didn’t get a notification back then that you had passed, until it was posted in the newspaper,” Hale said. “It was kind of touchy. You knew if your name didn’t show up you were in trouble.”
Hale stayed working with the governor’s office until Governor John West’s term was up, staying partially through Jim Edwards’ term, leaving to go back to the vocational rehabilitation office to set up family court programs across the state with money that came in from the governor’s office.
At this point, Hale and his wife had had three children — James Hale Jr. (Jimmy), Idolyn, and Lisa. Lisa, who was the youngest, was grown and getting married, at this time, Hale said he and his wife got a divorce.
Rooting in Newberry
Heading back towards Newberry, Hale said he had been the Chairman of the Democratic Party for Richland for two years and was retired from over 30 years in government.
“At the end of that I was elected at Newberry College as the President of Alumni Association which brought me here in 1998,” Hale said.
That year, Hale said was a transition year at the college where he said he began working in the capacity for planned giving, trying to raise money for the school.
Also a new transition was his remarriage to Kathryn Holmes, about two years following his divorce. Settling down and tired of driving back and forth to work, Hale settled in Newberry in 2005, a place where he said he thought would make a good place to retire.
Not long after moving to Newberry, Kathryn was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, passing away a few years later in 2010. Hale is currently living in town with a dog, Julie, and cat, Molly.
Hale said he describes his days at work lately as “the voice of Christmas past,” by being able to tell who has given money to Newberry College in the past.
“In addition in looking at who can do a will or scholarship, I’m involved in identifying people as we’ve been getting ready for a big push to grow the college over the last year,” Hale said.
Another part Hale said he enjoys while working at Newberry was that he helped to plan his class’ 50th anniversary celebration this past year. “We did it up good with the college’s help and had a good time,” Hale said.
Hale said his absolute favorite part of working part-time for Newberry College is being around young people and people that he’s known throughout the years.
“The fun thing is that you get to connect with a lot of alums that are at different periods of time in the history of the school since you’ve been out, but if you get us together and listen to our stories, there hasn’t been much of a change in the way we think,” Hale said.
When he’s not working, Hale said he enjoys reading, doing creative writing, traveling to the mountains, and attending concerts. He recently attended Willie Nelson and Fleetwood Mac concerts.
Elyssa Parnell can be reached at 803-276-0625, ext. 108.