Former City Administrator Toni Conner-Rooks reflects on the loss of “the People’s mayor”

By Toni Conner-Rooks | Special to The Current

When I learned of the seriousness of Vernon’s condition, I had a myriad of emotions running through me, disbelief, sorrow, grief, the everlasting question that begs to be answered, “WHY?” and then a wonderful thing happened, memories came through in abundance. Memories that will live in the hearts of the people who remember the things he accomplished, that reveal the man he was.

Vernon Knox was a “People’s Mayor.” He cared nothing for power. For Vernon believed government was of, for, and by the people. He wanted Folly to stay Folly, the vision set forth and worked for by the Rhodes, Bensons, Linvilles, Captain Harry, and Mrs. Emily, Pierces, Beckmans, etc.

He was not just a figurehead, he participated in Folly in every aspect — helped set up Saturday night Folly Trivia Pursuit at the Community Center. He Testified in Columbia several times against bills which would not have been in the best interest of the people. One particular bill would have taken the power away from the people and ultimately Council giving everyone the right to be on city sewer, which would have cost the city an enormous amount of money.

Vernon and I co-chaired the Coastal Coalition, which had as members Ocean & Coastal Resource Management (OCRM) and other coastal communities to have legislation drafted to keep a court ruling from going in to effect which would have been harmful to our re-nourishment program.

He made sure to keep the commitment to the people regarding annual funds going into a savings reserve account for future re-nourishments made by past Mayor Linville and passed forward. The funds were to increase each and every budget year to keep up with inflation, he always kept his promises.

Prior to my daughter passing away, he, with caring council members made it where I could work from the hospital with my computer so I could be with her. I ended up losing her but I will always remember his kindness at a time when my world was at its darkest.

When Pat Pierce’s husband was extremely ill and she ran out of sick leave taking care of him, Council Member Benson and Mayor Knox made sure she had enough sick leave to take care of her family. She and her family, and especially Jerry Pierce, had served Folly faithfully for many years.

Vernon Knox touched a lot of things and a lot of people. Everything he touched whether Folly, its people — his friends, people he barely knew, people he worked with, and people who worked for him — all and everything was made better because he touched our lives. His kindness, his caring, his sense of humor, compassion, all and more, we will miss.

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