By Paul Gable
I was more than saddened yesterday to hear of the death of my friend Don Wizeman.
Don Wizeman was a visionary, never much appreciated by the good ole boys of the Myrtle Beach area, even though many of his tourism marketing ideas were well ahead of their time.
He suffered fools badly, which often brought him into conflict with many of the area’s so-called movers and shakers.
Don’s words in a recent email speak volumes about the love/hate relationship he had with the Myrtle Beach area marketing world:
“I began waving my warning flags about golf in 2000, which were all ignored and I was rebranded from a “Yankee Jew” to a “clueless big-mouth,” a “troublemaker” and “not a team player” (as if anyone outside of the good old boy’s “that’s the way we’ve always done it” clique could ever become part of anything meaningful, much less, anything of any consequence there).”
Beyond his marketing efforts, Don Wizeman established the first political blog in Horry County, “Myrtle Beach Insider”. Writing as “The Watchman”, Wizeman nailed area politicians and business leaders for their many wrong-headed ideas with an acid wit.
“The Watchman” so drove these so-called leaders crazy, they worked extra hard to unmask the man behind the words. Finally, a throw-away line (as Don described it) at the end of a post about Coastal Carolina University gave CCU officials, led by Vice President Eddie Dyer, all the excuse they needed to call in SLED to unmask “The Watchman”.
Calling the words, “Where is my shotgun, my bucket of tar and bag of chicken feathers?”, a threat, CCU officials convinced SLED to find the identity of this potential “terrorist.”
After Wizeman admitted to posting as “The Watchman”, Horry County attorney John Weaver attacked Wizeman in an impassioned plea to have Horry County Council vote to remove Wizeman from the county’s Accommodations Tax Committee.
Weaver’s “You are judged by the people you associate with” speech failed, but Wizeman resigned from the committee shortly thereafter.
Don Wizeman was going through a particularly dark period this last year or so and I regret I wasn’t able to help him.
After my wife died in 2011, he was one of the people who encouraged me to get back into writing. His encouragement, along with that of other close friends, resulted in Grand Strand Daily. A little bit of Don will always be part of this blog.
I received five emails from Don between April 8 – 14, which, looking back, may have hinted at what was about to happen.
The final one finished with these words:
“We’re not here for a long time. We’re here for a good time,
and I’ve absolutely had A GREAT TIME!
Rest in Peace Don.