The new public face of embattled SCE&G made the news this week by saying, “I’m sorry.”
He said he’s sorry for all the turmoil caused by the utility and its parent SCANA Corp.’s role in a failed attempt to build two new nuclear reactors that cost its customers and shareholders billions of dollars.
But when he wowed an audience on Hilton Head Island in the spring of 2016, he said a prayer.
Today, his words delivered in the invocation at the opening ceremony of the RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing seem prophetic.
“And with your divine presence,” he said, “we are able to overcome every buffeting breeze, bunker, bogey and out-of-bounds lie in our life.”
Kissam, 51 and newly appointed chief operating officer of the reeling utility, brought a jolt of energy to the tranquil banks of Calibogue Sound, praying without notes on the 18th green of the Harbour Town Golf Links in Sea Pines.
He was invited by his friend and 2016 honorary Heritage chairman Charlie Rountree III of Columbia. Kissam is Rountree’s Sunday school teacher at Shandon United Methodist Church in Columbia.
After an invocation sprinkled with applause and laughter, Rountree said:
“I suggest all of y’all find you a Keller Kissam in your life to help you on the journey.”
Kissam shared some of his personal journey as we walked together in the Heritage opening parade to the cadence of The Citadel’s bagpipe band.
Kissam was reared in Creston, population 33, in Calhoun County. He was able to go to college thanks to an academic scholarship. He was a summa cum laude English major in The Citadel class of 1988. He earned the Charleston military school’s top honors — regimental commander and the Wade Hampton Sabre.
When South Carolina Electric & Gas came to campus to recruit, Kissam didn’t go because he wasn’t an engineer. But they asked for him, and he’s been there ever since.
By the time he got here, he was a vice president of SCANA Corp. and president of retail operations of SCE&G.
Here’s what he told me about work:
He said his daughter was 6 years old when she was diagnosed with leukemia. But she had survived and was about to graduate from high school.
“It turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to my life,” Kissam said. “It put life in perspective. Since that day, I’ve never had a bad day at work.”
So many people asked for his prayer that we finally got it in writing and put it in the paper.
‘Dear Heavenly Lord’
“Normally when we pray, we bow our heads and shut our eyes,” Kissam said in April 2016, “but today is such a gorgeous and beautiful day, I am going to ask all of you to keep your eyes open and your heads up, and let’s look at the gorgeous scenery the Lord has put forward for us today, and let’s pray.
“Dear Heavenly Lord,
We thank you for the great state of South Carolina.
From the mountains to the sea Your majesty is on display.
We thank you for this wonderful, unique golf venue
Designed by Pete Dye with an assist from Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer,
Developed and marketed to the world by the very special Fraser family,
Challenged by the greatest in golf to include our reigning champion, Jim Furyk.
I said you could look during the prayer; I didn’t say you could clap.
And as his drive thunders into the Calibogue Sound today, we will rejoice in the game of golf and what it teaches us about the game of life.
For in neither are we perfect, but, Dear Lord, your Word is as true today as a faithful caddy’s yardage book.
And with your divine presence, we are able to overcome every buffeting breeze, bunker, bogey and out-of-bounds lie in our life.
And when our earthly round is complete, we don’t even have to come in and attest by signing our scorecard,
Because if your name is etched upon our hearts, then we can be clad in the royal tartan plaid of your Kingdom,
For you have already repaired all of the divots in our lives through your love, your mercy and your grace.
Amen and Amen.”
David Lauderdale: 843-706-8115, @ThatsLauderdale