By Paul Gable
According to several sources, Horry County Council member Bob Grabowski died from a self inflicted gunshot wound approximately late yesterday afternoon.
According to those sources, Grabowski called his brother to tell him of his intentions and gave the contact information for Horry County Police Chief Saundra Rhodes.
Grabowski, who has worked for PTR Industries for approximately one year, took his life in an area near the plant in Cool Springs Industrial Park.
Grabowski was in his third term serving District 6 on Horry County Council and was a long time member and past chairman of the county’s Public Safety Committee.
Statement by Horry County Council on passing of Bob Grabowski:
“With sadness, we learned this evening of the death of Horry County Councilman Bob Grabowski. Councilman Grabowski has served our county and citizens with competency and generosity for more than 10 years. We are certain that his care and concern for the good people of District 6 and the entire county will be remembered for many years to come.
On behalf of the Horry County Council, we offer deep sympathies and assurance of prayers for his family, the people of District 6 and all who mourn his loss.”
Below is a column I did several years ago featuring Grabowski as a Veteran of the Week:
Bob Grabowski is the epitome of the local boy who left to join the Air Force then came back home to run the family business and get involved in county politics.
When he graduated from Myrtle Beach High School in 1977, Grabowski was already considering joining the Air Force.
“I initially thought I wanted to be a security policeman, but my father took me to see a friend of his who worked in the air traffic control tower at Myrtle Beach Air Force Base,” Grabowski said. “Once I saw the job of the controllers, I was sold on that specialty.”
Grabowski entered the Air Force in 1980 with a guaranteed school of Air Traffic Control. After completing basic and specialty training, he was assigned to Holloman Air Force Base in Alamogordo, N.M.
In addition to being the host base of the 49th Wing Air Combat Command, Holloman AFB is located with White Sands Missile Range and handles a number of experimental aircraft.
“Holloman is very complicated airspace to work,” Grabowski said. “It’s the busiest in the Tactical Air Command with a lot of experimental aircraft in addition to normal training missions. I handled the F-117 stealth fighter before most people knew it existed.”
His next stop was Ramstein AFB in Germany, a base that handles approach control for Ramstein and three other military airports in the area.
“It is the busiest military approach control in Europe,” he said. “It’s often a matter of very good timing to get everyone landed safely.”
Grabowski returned to another tour at Holloman AFB before taking his discharge with more than 10 years on active duty.
“I had the opportunity to come home and take over the family business, so I chose to take my discharge rather than staying in the Air Force until I was eligible for retirement,” Grabowski said. “I loved being an air traffic controller even with the stress. It was the best job I have had.”
The family business was Myrtle Beach Lighting. Grabowski ran the business for more than 22 years before selling it recently. Shortly after returning to the Myrtle Beach area, Grabowski was appointed to the Socastee Recreation Commission.
“We worked on improving recreation facilities and sports in the Socastee recreation district,” Grabowski said. “The basic goal was to expand the opportunities for the children in the district to have recreation programs open to them.”
In 2004, Grabowski ran for the vacant seat of Horry County Council District 6. “I spoke with Gene Smith before filing. When he told me he wasn’t going to run for re-election, I decided to put my name in the ring,” he said.
Elected in 2004, Grabowski has been re-elected twice and is currently serving his third term on Horry County Council.
“I enjoy working with the people in my district who call with concerns and complaints,” Grabowski said. “Often it is a matter of not understanding the way through the bureaucracy of government to accomplish what they want. I think of myself as an information clearing house for my constituents.”
Grabowski estimates he receives approximately five calls per week on the average. In addition to regular council duties, he has served on the council’s Public Safety Committee for many years, including four years as chairman.
“I really enjoy working in the public safety area,” he said. “We instituted the precinct policing concept while I was chairman, which I believe has worked out well for the citizens.”
“Council has been a good job, something I really enjoy doing,” Grabowski said. “I work very hard trying to make the right decision on the issues we consider.”