SC state Sen. John Scott of Richland County dies at 69
S.C. Sen. John Scott died Sunday, Aug. 13, 2023, after the Richland County Democrat was admitted to the cardiovascular unit at the Medical University of South Carolina.
Longtime Richland County lawmaker John Scott died Sunday.
He was 69.
An S.C. Senate memo sent to colleagues Friday said Scott was admitted to the cardiovascular unit at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston after experiencing a medical issue.
In a statement released Sunday by S.C. Senate President Thomas Alexander's office, Scott's family asked the community to keep his family in prayer.
"It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our beloved husband, father, and brother, Senator John L. Scott Jr., who passed away peaceably while surrounded by family and close friends. We ask the community to keep his family in prayer," the family's statement said.
Alexander, R-Oconee, said Scott's "work and dedication to his constituents and the citizens of South Carolina will be greatly missed."
Gov. Henry McMaster said he will order flags to be lowered once funeral arrangements have been announced.
"Peggy and I extend our prayers and deepest condolences to the family and friends of Senator John Scott. With over 30 years of service in the General Assembly, he has had a profound impact on Richland County and all of South Carolina. He will be deeply missed. May God bless him and his family," McMaster said in a statement.
Scott, born Oct. 21, 1953, was a longtime public servant.
Scott was first elected to the S.C. House in 1990, and served in the lower chamber for nearly two decades. He later was elected to the state Senate, representing District 19 in Richland County for about 14 years.
Scott last won reelection unopposed in 2020.
A special election will be held to fill the seat's unexpired term, which ends in November 2024.
In the Senate, Scott was passionate about Democratic-led causes, often outspoken against conservative social legislation.
A graduate of S.C. State University, Scott also was an advocate for historically Black colleges and universities.
Scott was last seen at the State House earlier this month as the Richland County Legislative Delegation publicly sparred over the master-in-equity position.
"Senator Scott's legacy will be forever etched in the history of South Carolina," Senate Democratic Leader Brad Hutto, D-Orangeburg, said in a statement Sunday. "His tireless work ethic, his willingness to bridge divides, and his unyielding commitment to the principles of justice and equality have set an example for us all."
In 2018,Scott ran for lieutenant governor on a joint ticket with gubernatorial candidate Marguerite Willis, who lost in the primary to former state Rep. James Smith.
The next year, he delivered the Democrats' response to McMaster after his annual State of the State address.
"It's time for change, and if we do not come together then none of us deserve to be here," Scott said in his remarks, calling for higher wages, equal justice and better roads.
"Sen. Scott was my state senator, and I know first-hand how hard he fought for my community. His death is a tremendous loss for our party and all of South Carolina," Christale Spain, chairwoman of the S.C. Democratic Party, said in a statement Sunday.
"He used his voice in the General Assembly to fight not only for his district but for all South Carolinians and his life's work on issues of education, health care and economic development will have a lasting impact on our state," she added.
Scott was married to Joan Crouch and had one child, John III. Outside of the State House, Scott was heavily involved in his church, New Ebenezer Baptist Church, and served as deacon.
He also ran J.L. Scott Realty and C&S Consulting Group, according to his legislative bio.
"He worked with my mother in the governor's office under (former Gov.) Dick Riley, then he went onto Richland County Council. He truly dedicated his entire life to public service," House Minority Leader Todd Rutherford, D-Richland, said.
"He was present. He was engaged, and even if I disagreed with him, he was always there to try and look out for his constituents and what he felt was right."
Tributes for Scott poured in from across the political aisle.
State Rep. Kambrell Garvin, D-Richland, tweeted Sunday, "A giant tree has fallen. Senator John L. Scott, Jr., was my political mentor and friend. I am absolutely devastated by his unexpected passing. Monique and I send our sincerest condolences to Mrs. Joan and the entire Scott family along with all who knew and loved our Senator."
On X, formerly known as Twitter, state Sen. Nikki Setzler, D-Lexington, posted that Scott "was not only an outstanding public servant but a true gentleman. He worked tirelessly for his constituents and the people of this State. My friend will be missed but his legacy will live on."
"John and I didn’t agree on many issues but I always found him to be an honest broker and a staunch defender of his constituents. He was a friend. While I know he is at peace, I pray for comfort for his family at this difficult time. Godspeed Senator. Godspeed," posted state Sen. Sean Bennett, R-Dorchester.
This story may be updated.