After posting a bog notice last night on the death of GOP activist Rod Shealy, it occurred to me that the least I could do was make note of the passing of my friend Jimmy Chandler, who died more than a week ago.
I first met Jimmy in 1999, when I was researching my book, Banana Republic: A Year in the Heart of Myrtle Beach. Jimmy was a deeply knowledgeable and influential environmental lawyer, who worked in his hometown of Georgetown, winning impressive David-vs.-Goliath victories against large developers and manufacturers.
I had not seem Jimmy Chandler in years, but sent a check each year to his S.C. Environmental Law Project, which he ran out of his grandparents’ old house, along with one associate attorney. I was stunned and saddened to read of Jimmy’s death. He leaves a wife, Rebecca, and a teenage daughter, Leigh. And he leaves many friends and much work still to be done.
Here is Sammy Fretwell’s tribute to Jimmy from The State newspaper.
Conservationist Jimmy Chandler, the underdog lawyer who battled big corporations and influential developers in S.C. courts for nearly three decades, died Saturday night after an eight-month battle with cancer.
Chandler successfully battled a local paper mill from ’89-91 to reduce the output of dioxin (which is believed to cause cancer) into the Sampit River, one of three rivers which empties into the bay.
Chandler, of Pawleys Island, was 60.
Since the early 1980s, the unflappable Chandler had been the face of environmental law in South Carolina’s Lowcountry and a leading advocate of protecting the marshes, beaches, rivers and lakes that define the Palmetto State.
His groundbreaking legal work stopped dredging projects in salt marshes, bridges through swamps, toxic waste sites in poor communities, and most recently, the coming of mega-garbage dumps in rural S.C. counties.
In the mid-1980s, Chandler won a landmark case in Georgetown County that has since prevented developers from digging canals through South Carolina’s vast coastal tidelands. Many consider the Willbrook dredging case one of the most important in coastal environmental law.
But Chandler’s biggest legal coup may have occurred in 2000, when he and Columbia lawyer Bob Guild persuaded the S.C. Court of Appeals to close a hazardous waste landfill on the shores of Lake Marion. Their fight against the influential Laidlaw/Safety-Kleen waste company had lasted more than 15 years.
Chandler did most of his work for environmental groups and citizens’ associations, often at reduced rates or no cost.