Beaufort Academy founder, longtime pharmacist dies

emoody@beaufortgazette.comJune 8, 2012 

Dr. Charles Schley Aimar Sr. improved the lives of Beaufort residents not only by filling prescriptions for 50 years, but by giving them opportunities.

Aimar, 87, died Thursday at his home. He is survived by his wife, Sarah Jeanne Sams, five children and other relatives. Visitation will be from 3 to 6 p.m. Sunday at the family home, according to Copeland Funeral Service, which is handling arrangements. A memorial service will be at 11 a.m. Monday at The Parish Church of St. Helena, with burial to follow in the church cemetery.

From 1951 to 2008, he operated Aimar's Pharmacy on Ribaut Road. His projects ranged from rebuilding a motor behind the counter at his pharmacy to helping found The Beaufort Academy.

Born in Savannah, his parents moved to Beaufort when he was very young. His children reminisced Friday about stories of Aimar's mischievous youth. But they said he never shirked a duty, even as a kid.

Daughter Jeanne Rogers said that when her father was young, the city installed electric street lights. Almost every night, someone shot out a light or two. The sheriff rounded up the neighborhood boys one day and unofficially "deputized" them.

"That was the last time the street lights were shot out," she said with a laugh.

As Aimar grew older, his responsibilities increased.

A Marine, he served in World War II, earning a Purple Heart for injuries sustained at Iwo Jima. Before the war, he attended Clemson University and later completed his degree from the University of South Carolina School of Pharmacy.

His proudest accomplishments were closer to home, however.

"He always said to me, he made three major decisions in his life: He married my mother, Sarah Jeanne Sams; he had five children; and founded The Beaufort Academy," daughter Amelie Cromer said.

"And living in Beaufort," son Charles Aimar Jr. added.

Aimar's interest in creating the private school started when he saw a change in the quality of public education, Rogers said. For example, he wanted Rogers to take Latin throughout high school, but the public schools removed it from the curriculum.

Aimar was dedicated to giving his and other children daily lessons, ranging from reading to religion, his children said.

"Everything in life to Dad was a lesson," Cromer said. "Walking down the street, you'd see a brick mason, and he'd have you stop. You'd be talking to the brick mason about the dynamics of it, the physics of it. He'd see someone pick up a lawnmower, and you'd stop. You'd talk with him; you'd watch him repair it."

Aimar also was a co-founder of the Heritage Society of Beaufort and the Beaufort County Republican Party. He was a trustee of Beaufort College and Beaufort Memorial Hospital, a two-time president of the Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce and a Beaufort city councilman.

When Aimar noticed property owners near the dead ends of roads were encroaching on land that was supposed to be left open, he lobbied at the state level to stop the practice. Beaufort roads are supposed to end at the marsh and signs now stand at the road ends marking the preservation of open space, Rogers said. As a member of the city's Board of Architectural Review, he established a practice of ensuring the names of a building's owner, architect and builder were written onto a cornerstone, Charles Aimar Jr. said.

"So if it was really a hideous building, people would know who built it," he said.

Although his strong opinions sometimes led to disagreements with friends and community members, Aimar enjoyed the passionate debates and airing of ideas, his children said.

A lifelong sailor, he stayed active by boating, and even camped out on his own as recently as last year, his son said.

"He loved this part of the country, and he loved the water, and he loved being here," Rogers said.

Related content:

  1. Charles Aimar Sr.'s three-part oral history, given to the Beaufort Three-Century Project
  2. How going 'down the river' has long soothed our Lowcountry soul, Oct. 23, 2009
  3. Pharmacy's story shows what it takes, Dec. 2, 2008

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