Funeral plans set for Searles

The funeral for Rock Hill City Councilman Winston Searles will be Friday at New Mount Olivet AME Zion Church.

Dozens of dignitaries from the city, state and federal levels are expected to pay respects to the city's longest-serving council member at the 2 p.m. service. The church is located at 527 S. Dave Lyle Blvd.

Mayor Doug Echols will deliver a message on behalf of the city.

"What I hope to be able to share is the kind of person Winston was," Echols said. "The kind of citizen-leader. And to share in some way his deep feelings for this community."

A viewing will be from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday at Robinson Funeral Home on Hampton Street. The body will be placed in the church for viewing at noon Friday.

In 1980, Searles became one of the first two blacks elected to the council, along with retired police officer Frank Berry. He spent the next 27 years pushing the city to stay attentive to problems in the urban core.

Searles focused on bringing improvements to the Hagins-Fewell neighborhood and, more recently, cleaning up its Arcade Mill site, which was gutted by fire in 1997. He also lobbied for federal money to improve Clinton Junior College.

After the last election, Searles, 85, shared that his current term would be his last. He signaled his support for local NAACP activist Susie Hinton, the only candidate running for his seat.

"Big shoes to fill," Hinton said this week, after Searles' passing.