There are a few people each of us can point to that played a formative role in our lives. Jimmy Chandler, the founder and director of the South Carolina Environmental Law Project, is one of those people for me. He died August 8th after a year-long battle with cancer. And while his death is a huge loss to the environmental movement in the South, what we have gained through his life is even greater.
I first met Jimmy Chandler when I was an undergraduate student at the University of South Carolina through my mother who, at the time, was an environmental news reporter. As an aspiring lawyer, I got a part-time job working in Jimmy’s law office, where I worked my senior year. He wrote a recommendation to support my application to Emory University School of Law where I graduated in 1991. During my time in Jimmy’s office, I watched him run a legal practice doing real estate closings to bring in money while working hard, long hours for little to no money to keep big corporations from destroying South Carolina’s natural environment. His dedication, passion and drive have been a source of personal inspiration to me ever since.
I grew up in the low country of South Carolina, a magical place where salt water marshes filled with dolphins and egrets meet majestic live oak trees covered in Spanish moss. As a place that still very much defines my love for Southern forests, I am forever grateful for Jimmy’s work over the past 25 years. Thanks to Jimmy, countless developers have been kept out of sensitive salt water ecosystems and big corporations have been blocked from siting huge landfills and toxic waste dumps in South Carolina’s rural communities.
Jimmy left behind a true legacy of environmental heroism. His life’s work was not about accumulating wealth for himself, but rather about protecting life for all. He worked not only for the environment, but also for local communities.
Jimmy, I will forever remember your fierce passion, endless courage and gentle heart as I continue in my work to protect the unique forests and communities of the South from destructive industrial forestry. So long my friend and mentor and thank you so much! It was truly an honor to have known you! Danna
To find out more about Jimmy’s life see the news article published in The State newspaper at: http://www.scelp.org/files/downloads/JCStoryStatePaper.pdf