LEXINGTON COUNTY — Saluda and Lexington counties community leader Bill L. Amick, who died Friday at age 70, was known as a Christian who pioneered agribusiness in the 20th century.
“He was a very significant guy in modern South Carolina business history,” said political consultant Richard Quinn, who knew Amick for almost 40 years.
Amick propelled his parents’ chicken farm, which they began by delivering chickens door-to-door on the back of a pickup truck, into an industry leader, Quinn said.
After Amick took over the Batesburg-Leesville business, he implemented vertical integration, adding a hatchery and feed mill operations. That way he could oversee the chicken processing from beginning to end, Quinn said.
That enabled Amick to control quality and be much more nimble in processing, Quinn said.
He operated Amick Farms until it was sold in 2006. Amick was best known for the business but also for his role as a real estate developer and a trustee for Clemson University.
Clemson University is mourning the loss of its trustee emeritus, who served on the board for 30 years, including two terms as its chairman.
Chairman David Wilkins expressed condolences on behalf of the board and the university.
“Bill Amick was a treasured member of the Clemson family and served his alma mater faithfully as a trustee for three decades,” Wilkins said. “He was a gentle giant and all of us in the Clemson family greatly benefitted from his leadership and wisdom. His quiet resolve and dedicated leadership made him a true asset to the university and the state of South Carolina. For a lifetime of professional success and achievement and for all he meant to the success of Clemson University and the larger community, we are forever grateful.”
U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., weighed in on Amick’s passing as well.
“South Carolina has lost one of her strongest business leaders with the passing of Bill Amick,” Graham said in a release. “He was a great American success story, and through hard work built Amick Farms into one of the most thriving agricultural enterprises in the state. Bill’s great passions were his family and Clemson University. As a life member of the Board of Trustees and as chairman, he helped lead the university to national prominence.”
More than a businessman, Amick was someone special, said Cathy Novinger, who knew Amick from when he served on the board for utility giant SCANA.
“When you come across a real gentleman, you notice it,” Novinger said. “Bill was that gentleman.”
Amick was a giving man who never expected anything in return, she said.
“He probably did more anonymously than any of us would ever know,” Novinger said.
Amick was recently the main speaker at the city of Columbia’s annual Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast in early October. Amick exhorted listeners at the breakfast, which included several Midlands mayors, to embark on Bible-based lives that include prayer and sacrifice.
Amick’s friend Oran P. Smith, who leads the Palmetto Family Council, said in his last few months, Amick was working to found the Palmetto Regiment, which would be an organization focused on prayer.
Smith said the organization would focus on 2nd Chronicles 7:14, which calls on people to confess their sins, humble themselves and pray.
It’s a verse that encapsulated the life of Amick, Smith said.
If something bothered Amick, he would say he would take the matter to his “prayer closet,” Smith said.
“He literally would steal away for as long as he needed to find answers for whatever problem might be perplexing him or a friend,” Smith said.
Amick’s humility was evident when he was chairman of the board of trustees at Clemson University, Smith said.
Smith said any time Amick sensed someone was going to think highly of him or see him as important he would immediately scotch that very quickly by saying he was “just an old chicken farmer,” or “old country boy.”
A chicken farmer who, Quinn said, “was bigger than life.”
Reach Cope at 803-771-8657.