Obituary of Furman Delano Wingate
Furman Delano Wingate, 79, passed away Monday, November 25th at home in Ridgeway. Born in Rock Hill, South Carolina, and raised in Columbia, he was a son of the late Robert N. and Eula Mae Harrison Wingate. He attended Eau Claire High School where he played baseball and basketball and was a cheerleader his senior year. Furman was voted Most Original, Most School Spirit, and Wittiest in his graduating class. He then worked several jobs to put himself through college at the University of South Carolina, graduating with a degree in journalism in 1962.
While at Carolina, that tall, gangly kid with the big personality met the love of his life, a beauty queen and fellow journalism student named Polly Derrick. He won her over with his sense of humor and big plans and they married shortly after his graduation in 1962. They had been married 57 years at the time of his passing.
Furman worked in broadcast radio and television early in his career. He was the first roving reporter for WIS-TV back in the early 1960s and even made a honeymoon out of covering the 1962 Sun Fun Festival in Myrtle Beach for WIS-TV with his new wife toting camera equipment as his sidekick. He worked various other jobs in public relations and politics during those early years, including his time as an aide to Senator Strom Thurmond.
In 1967, Furman decided to strike out on his own and together with the support of Polly, they opened Wingate Advertising. Through their hard work and his sheer will to succeed, Wingate Advertising became one of the most successful local ad agencies in South Carolina. He handled the advertising for a wide variety of businesses over his 50+ years in business, including the Lexington State Bank and dozens of other community-based banks throughout the state, South Carolina Federal, Seibels-Bruce, Colonial Life, and numerous other businesses and organizations around the state. One of his great joys was handling personal public relations for Carolina basketball coach Frank McGuire in the late 1970s and he was proud to have handled Representative Floyd Spence’s first election campaign for the US Congress. Over the years, Furman also created Columbia Specialty Advertising, a promotional products company originally designed to meet the needs of his advertising clients, and Wingate Travel, a full-service travel agency run by Polly for more than 20 years.
Furman was proud of his success in business but nothing could compare to the pride he took in his family. He and Polly worked side by side for the better part of those 50 years, providing for their family. He took great joy in telling of the accomplishments of his son, Stuart, a successful businessman in Atlanta who recently retired to Florida, and his daughter, Melissa, who enjoyed a successful career in college sports marketing before returning home 10 years ago to take over Columbia Specialty from her dad.
In recent years, Furman and Polly had retired to their land in Ridgeway to enjoy the quiet, peace, and privacy of the woods. He continued to play golf several times a week with his senior golf group, dabbled in the stock market, and spent much of his spare time entertaining his beloved cat, Bootsie, the second great love of his life. He will be remembered for his great sense of humor, his unbelievable work ethic and commitment to doing things the right way, his honesty, and his love of and loyalty to his family.
Furman is survived by his wife, Polly Derrick Wingate; son, Stuart Wingate (Scott Powers) of St. Petersburg, Florida; daughter, Melissa Wingate Oswalt (Craig) of Ridgeway; brother, Jack Wingate of Blackville, SC; and sister, Joanne Todd (Harry) of Griffin, Georgia. He was predeceased by his parents and older brother, Bobby Wingate. The family would like to thank Dr. Chaudry Mushtaq and staff at SC Oncology for their compassionate care over the past few years and personal physician, Dr. Jeff Hook, and his staff for their care as well.
The family will receive friends at a visitation Sunday afternoon, December 1st, from 2:00-4:00 pm at Thompson Funeral Home at Greenlawn Memorial Park. Plans for a memorial service will be announced in the coming weeks. In lieu of flowers, we ask you to please consider a gift to the Fairfield County Animal Adoption Center in Winnsboro, SC, to help out our local rural animal shelter or to the SCOA Cares Foundation to help cancer patients who need financial assistance with medical expenses and transportation.
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