WILL MOREDOCK: Charleston’s Loss is a Loss to the Nation
by DARRYL WELLINGTON
Charleston’s own Will Moredock who recently passed away at age 69 was a well-respected writer and columnist. He enjoyed a long career in the journalism field, doing stints at Creative Loafing and The State. He published several books, including Banana Republic: a Year in the Heart of Myrtle Beach and Living in Fear.
Will Moredock was also my friend and colleague.
And although he was primarily known regionally, he was one of the best newspaper columnists I have ever read.
His writing was characterized by his social consciousness. During his ten year tenure writing a column in the City Paper from 2002 to 2012, he covered social ills, local politics, poverty, and yes – that most controversial subject – race. Will reiterated in numerous articles, as well as on his website how deeply he was “saddened by the political divide of his state, by the way race is constantly used to divide and define people for political and economic gain. Racism is at the root of South Carolina’s intractable social problems, including endemic poverty, poor public education, and environmental degradation.”
Charlestonians were privileged to know that the same qualities that made his writing amazing made Will an extraordinary person. Editorial writing is an intimate medium. It’s a bit like being a TV star. Every week you appear in public, usually addressing some topical concern with wit and wisdom. And the voice behind the writing is what makes a remarkable columnist stand out. Will’s writing voice displayed his conviction, tenacity, and his anecdotal humor. Certainly the word “tenacity” will resound with Charleston readers, his supporters and his critics alike.
People who followed Will’s writing knew that he was a natural debater. He was not a flippant wordsmith who took his arguments lightly. When Will believed in a point, he stuck with it. So, too, when he believed that a practice, a political gesture or a historical distortion was racist, classist, or unjust, he said it. And said it. And said it still again, until it stuck in the public discourse. Stubbornness was his pride. He was driven by conviction. It was his tenacity that put him at odds with conservatives, Confederate apologists, and deniers of the harm done by the legacy of slavery. The very same tenacity made him a hero to liberal and progressive Southerners living in a conservative state.
The secret to Will’s effectiveness was within the man himself. He was the epitome of the “irascible” critic who was not a misanthrope. He was in fact the opposite. He was a plain-spoken native son, refusing to ever let South Carolina off the hook because he was so much in love with it.
Will’s combativeness was leavened by a sensitive, even sentimental spirit.
Living in Fear — Race, Politics & The Republican party in South Carolina, which collects many of Will’s editorials is also a document of the lives, losses and moral failings of millions of Southerners and Southern governments in the era since the 1970’s. Will’s passing is a loss to journalism. The whole nation has lost an editorialist who equaled the best in the field.