Beaufort News

Bill Mottel, longtime hilton Head councilman, dies

Former Hilton Head Island councilman Bill Mottel died Saturday in North Augusta after battling Alzheimer's disease and other health problems.

He was 82.

Mottel resigned his council seat in 2009 after being diagnosed with Alzheimer's. During his 10 years on the council he represented Ward 2, which includes most of Hilton Head Plantation, Indigo Run and parts of Marshland Road and Mathews Drive. He was chairman of the council's Public Safety Committee and an advocate for the island's aggressive land-buying program.

Mottel also had served as chairman of the board of the National Safety Council and on former Gov. Mark Sanford's nuclear advisory committee.

Friends and colleagues said his focus on public safety and initiatives such as the island's Disaster Recovery Commission set him apart.

"We couldn't have gone out and hired anyone better to advise us of public safety matters if we tried," former mayor Tom Peeples said. "He had a cool-headed, logical approach to all council matters. I'm proud of all he did for our town."

Born in Gladstone, Mich., Mottel graduated with honors from Michigan State University with a degree in chemical engineering and had a career in nuclear energy and weaponry.

He served as a stateside officer in the U.S. Army during the Korean War and moved to South Carolina in the 1950s to help design, build and operate the Savannah River Site for DuPont Co. While working for the Aiken plant that produced materials for nuclear weapons during the Cold War, Mottel and his wife, Carole, raised seven children in North Augusta, where he served on the city council and was chairman of the Aiken County Public Service Authority.

In 1993, he moved to Hilton Head. He was elected to council in 1998 to fill the remainder of the term of Al Winston III.

Town manager Steve Riley said Mottel pushed the town fire district to earn federal accreditation, helped write its master plan and examined the town's contract with the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office.

"He's accomplished an awful lot of positive things for the local community and the state," Riley said. "He was also just really interesting to talk to. He had stories about the early days of the U.S. nuclear program. He brought that public safety knowledge to his job here."

Ken Heitzke, who served with Mottel on council, said he supported his friend's decision to step down from council during his illness.

"It was a tough choice for him," Heitzke said. "He was a straight shooter and really took to heart the tasks he was given on council."

Mottel is survived by his five sons, two daughters, 22 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

A funeral service will be at 11 a.m. today at Our Lady of Peace Catholic Church in North Augusta.

Memorials may be made to the Alzheimer's Disease Association Augusta chapter, 1899 Central Ave., Augusta, Ga. 30904.