2004 Hall of Fame
Wilton Earle Hall
Wilton Earle Hall was born March 11, 1901, in Starr, South Carolina and attended Furman University where he worked part-time on the Greenville News. He dropped out of college during his sophomore year because of a ruptured appendix and moved to Anderson where, in 1924, at age 23, he borrowed $2000, bought a dilapidated printing press and linotype machine and founded The Anderson Independent, a morning and Sunday newspaper which, by 1929, absorbed the competing Anderson Tribune. That same year, he bought Anderson’s evening newspaper, The Daily Mail. He founded radio station WAIM in 1935, WCAC-FM in 1946, and WAIM-TV in 1953. During World War II, he directed war bond drives and after the war, chaired the Anderson Post War Planning Survey.
Mr. Hall was considered a “ power” in the Democratic Party, with close ties to the administrations of Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, John F. Kennedy, and Lyndon B. Johnson. In 1944, Governor Olin D. Johnston appointed him to fill the unexpired term of Senator “Cotton Ed” Smith. Mr. Hall served as chairman of Anderson’s Democratic Convention in 1936; on the Executive Committee in 1952; and delegate to National Conventions in 1944, 1952, and 1956.
In 1941 and 1944 Mr. Hall received from the National Editorial Association the University Of Missouri School Of Journalism Silver Plaque for greatest community service in the United States. He brought to Anderson many famous personalities such as Vice President Lyndon Johnson, Dr. Norman Vincent Peale and Capt. Eddie Rickenbacker, and his newspapers sponsored the South Carolina Spelling Bee, which was held at Forrest College in Anderson for 25 years.
Considered Mr. Hall’s two most important contributions to Anderson County were his chairmanship of the Hartwell Dam Steering Committee and his influence bringing I-85 through Anderson County. In 1948, President Truman authorized the Hartwell Project. Despite bitter political and corporate opposition, the project was completed in 1961. Using his considerable political power, Mr. Hall was able to effect a change in the original route for I-85. In 1962, the SC Highway Commission named dual lane I-85 bridges over the Seneca River, ten miles west of Anderson, for Wilton Hall.
Mr. Hall sold his media empire in late February 1972 to Harte-Hanks Communication Inc. Throughout most of his life, Mr. Hall was plagued with heart problems. On February 25, 1980, he died in Anderson.