MYRTLE BEACH -- Retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Jim Hackler Jr., who founded several Myrtle Beach-area golf courses, has died, his son says. Hackler was 87.
He died Thursday.
Hackler's son, Jim Hackler III of Duck Key, Fla., said his father was a two-star general and on track to be a top officer in the Air Force when he retired in 1969 to take care of investments in the Caravelle Resort and Golfotel following the death of his business partner.
"It was awful," Jim Hackler said of his father's leaving the military. "They told him when he got ready to retire that they were grooming him to be the head of the Air Force."
But the former World War II fighter pilot, who was a staff member for Defense Secretary Robert McNamara during the Vietnam War, immersed himself in the community and the business.
"This place was in his heart. He absolutely loved Myrtle Beach," Hackler's son said. "He told me way back when, 'You aren't going to believe the way this place is going to grow.'"
Over the years, he would help develop courses such as Bay Tree, Robber's Roost, Heather Glen and Possum Trot.
He was born in Marion, Va., and grew up in North Carolina. He taught himself to fly at age 15 and went the University of North Carolina and later transferred to West Point on a golf scholarship.
He flew more than 100 missions during World War II.
"He was just exactly what you'd expect of a general. He knew what he was doing," said retired Col. George Branch. "Had he stayed in, I'm confident he would have risen much higher in the ranks.
"He was an exceptionally intelligent gentleman with a wide range of interests. You couldn't find a nicer guy."
• S.C. 55 from Clinton Avenue to east of Quinn Road, daytime lane closures due to intersection improvements.