George O’Kelley moves to adjourn for a final time.
The three-term Beaufort City Councilman, former municipal judge and practicing attorney is stepping down from public service. He didn’t seek re-election to City Council this year.
Mike McFee and incoming Councilwoman Nan Sutton will be sworn in at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Beaufort City Hall.
Not one to stick around longer than necessary, O’Kelley, 74, was always one to formally end council meetings. But he has been part of serious work in the city.
He helped author city rules banning smoking in city restaurants and texting while driving, a city news release noted. He worked to improve garbage collection and to re-energize downtown business — his office is on Bay Street.
He said the citizens would have to judge his record of service spanning more than 35 years.
“One big positive is the downtown economy that so many people have helped, including City Council to some extent,” O’Kelley said in the release. “Back in the 1970s and ‘80s, you could have fired grapeshot down Bay Street at nine at night and no one would be hurt.”
O’Kelley’s three terms on City Council were spread out. He was first elected in 1979 and elected again in 2004. He won a special election in 2011 to fill the seat of the late Gary Fordham.
“He was always fair and, though he held many strong opinions, he was always ready to listen to others and keep the debate civil,” Beaufort Mayor Billy Keyserling said in his newsletter last month.
He served two stints on the municipal bench, from 1982 to 1986 and again from 1995 to 2000.
A graduate of the Citadel and University of South Carolina law school, O’Kelley was a member of the South Carolina Judicial Screening Committee, president of the Beaufort County Bar and served on the Historic Beaufort Foundation board.
He served in the Marine Corps on active duty and reserve, and retired as a Lieutenant Colonel with medals and decorations including the Navy/Marine Achievement Medal, Vietnam Campaign and Combat Action Ribbon.