87-year-old Bluffton woman, former Hargray CEO, honored with SC’s highest civilian award

Gov. Henry McMaster honored an 87-year-old Bluffton woman with the state’s highest civilian honor earlier this week at the governor’s mansion.

Gloria Taggart received the Order of the Palmetto to recognize her lifelong service to South Carolina, specifically leading Hargray Communications for more than five decades, according to a press release.

Glordia’s father, Leroy Harvey, started Hargray in the 1940s as a telephone company in Hardeeville, then expanded to Bluffton, then to Hilton Head and beyond in 1958, according to the company’s website.

Hargray established crucial cable lines for telephone service, particularly on Hilton Head in the days before a bridge linked the island with the rest of the world.

“Hargray dug and placed every cable; all buried 100 percent,” Taggart told Elysian Magazine. “Even today you won’t find any telephone poles on Hilton Head.”

Taggart’s career “connected communities in the Lowcountry,” building Hargray Communications, Hargray Telephone Co., Bluffton Telephone Co., Hargray Long Distance, Data Publishing, Hargray Wireless, and Communications Data Group, the release said.

After her father’s death, Taggart was a trailblazer at Hargray, leading the company to become the 26th largest independent telecommunications firm in the United States.

Beyond her service at Hargray, Taggart was a generous philanthropist, donating to local events and causes such as the Hilton Head Island Concours d’Elegance, the Heritage Golf Tournament and the University of South Carolina-Beaufort, according to the press release. She also helped create the Coin Foundation at Hargray, which gives approximately $200,000 every year to local nonprofit organizations.

“No one does anything alone, and I am so grateful to my family and my extended family... On his dying bed, my father said that no matter what happened in my life, to never forget where I came from, and I never will,” Taggart said at the ceremony. “This will be the most memorable day in my life.”