George Bell Timmerman, Jr.

75th Governor of the State of South Carolina 1955 to 1959

Date Born: August 11, 1912

Date Died: November 29, 1994

Place Born: Anderson, SC

Place Buried: Batesburg Cemetery, Batesbur, SC

Residence: Lexington, SC

Occupation: Lawyer

University of South Carolina, LL.B: 1937, J.D.: 1970

The Citadel - LL.D.: 1950

Lieutenant Governor of South Carolina: 1947-1955

1954 - Timmerman was elected governor without opposition, receiving 214,204 votes.

George Bell Timmerman, Jr. was born on August 11, 1912 in Anderson, SC, the son of George Bell Timmerman and Mary Vandiver (Sullivan) Timmerman. Raised in Batesburg, SC, he attended The Citadel from 1930 to 1934, then received his LL.B. degree in 1937 from the University of South Carolina. He was admitted to the South Carolina bar that same year and began the practice of law in Lexington, SC.

On Feb. 16, 1935, George Bell Timmerman, Jr. married Helen Miller DuPre, daughter of Edward C. DuPre and Helen (Miller) DuPre of Columbia, and they had no children.

George Bell Timmerman, Jr. served in the U.S. Naval Reserve, Naval Armed Guard, from 1942 to 1946. While on convoy duty as a Naval Gunnery Officer, his ship was torpedoed and he spent three days on a life boat before
being rescued. Later, he commanded a rocket launcher ship during the invasion of Okinawa.

In 1946, after his return from military service, George Bell Timmerman, Jr. was elected Lieutenant Governor of South Carolina. He served from 1947 to 1951 under Gov. James Strom Thurmond and worked to promote the fledgling body that would become the State Development Board.

In 1948, Timmerman was president of the SC Democratic Convention and a delegate to the Democratic National Convention. He was re-elected Lieutenant Governor and served under Gov. James Francis Byrnes from 1951 to 1955.

In 1954, George Bell Timmerman, Jr. was elected governor, defeating Lester Bates in an exciting campaign. His term as governor witnessed major capital improvements in the State and Palmetto State hospitals, the building of new schools across SC, the expansion of the SC Law Enforcement Division, and an extensive highway construction program. The conservative Gov. Timmerman was an ardent opponent of what he viewed as federal encroachment on the powers of the state and localities, particularly as applied to maintaining a segregated society. His energetic Lieutenant Governor, Ernest F. “Fritz” Hollings, became South Carolina’s leading proponent of economic development.

On leaving office in 1959, George Bell Timmerman, Jr. returned to his Lexington law practice. In 1966, 11th Circuit Court Judge T. B. Greneker announced his decision to retire. J. Fred Buzhardt was elected to succeed Greneker, but died unexpectedly. Timmerman sought the position and was elected in January, 1967 without opposition. He held that office until August 11, 1984 when he reached the mandatory age of retirement.

In 1975, Judge Timmerman made headline news when he declared the state’s 1974 law regulating capital punishment to be unconstitutional. Judge Timmerman called the law “a mishmash of contradictory terms.” The U.S. Supreme Court agreed with Timmerman when, early in July, 1976, it upheld the death penalty but declared unconstitutional state laws, such as those in South Carolina, making death mandatory for certain crimes.

In 1993, George Bell Timmerman, Jr. married a second time, to Ingrid Zimmer.

He then served as a special judge, filling in on the Circuit, until his death on November 29, 1994 due to an automobile accident. He was buried in the Batesburg Cemetery in Batesburg, SC.

George Bell Timmerman, Jr. was born in Anderson, SC. He attended The Citadel in Charleston and received a law degree from the University of South Carolina in 1937. In addition to engaging in the private practice of law, he was Assistant Chief Trial Attorney for the SC Public Service Authority in 1941 and Lieutenant Governor prior to being elected governor. Following the lead of the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Brown vs. Board of Education that school segregation was unconstitutional, the Interstate Commerce Commission took a stand against segregation on public transportation, and South Carolina's bus segregation law was declared unconstitutional during Timmerman's gubernatorial term. Gov. George Bell Timmerman, Jr. joined with the governors of Georgia, Mississippi, and Virginia to urge the adoption of legislation protesting federal encroachment with respect to school integration. He also spoke out against federal aid to education.

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