Family man, business leader, entrepreneur passes away

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Mauldin, Local

January 23, 2023 by Shirley Adams - Views: 123

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Family man, business leader, entrepreneur passes away

S486-2.jpgOn December 21, 2022, one of Mauldin’s most beloved citizens, Tim Brett, passed away at the age of sixty-nine. The sanctuary of Mauldin First Baptist Church was packed for his memorial service on January 7, 2023, with at least twelve politicians from various levels of government in attendance. Almost nine hundred views of that service occurred via the internet as well. Then, as one of its first orders of business, the 2023-2024 Session of the South Carolina General Assembly passed Bill 3642, a resolution recognizing Tim’s profound influence on his community, state, and nation while offering sympathy to his family and friends. But who was Tim Brett? 

Born on December 8, 1953, at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, Timothy Andrew Brett came from a humble background and was raised by his grandparents, Leone and John Kerns. He graduated from Newberry College in 1974 with a bachelor’s degree in political science and in 1978 married Rita, the love of his life. Their forty-four-year marriage produced a son Nicholas Brett in 1981, and a daughter Angela Rigsby in 1985. Eventually four grandchildren came along, Emily and Zadie Rigsby and Lillian and Turner Brett. And Tim fiercely loved them all. Daughter Angela remembers him as always being there, possessing the best words of wisdom for any situation, and keeping her well-grounded.

Political Career

After graduating from college, Tim began his career as a Mauldin Police Sergeant in 1975. From 1982-1986, Tim served for two terms in the South Carolina House of Representatives. While doing this, he also worked as a congressional staff aid for U.S. Representative Carroll Campbell. When Campbell sought reelection to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1984, Tim became his campaign manager. After leaving the SC House, Tim assumed the role of political director for Campbell’s gubernatorial campaign. After that successful run, Campbell appointed Tim to serve as his senior executive assistant where he made appointment recommendations and managed legislative activities. 

Tim Brett with his wife Rita and 
their four grandchildrenption

Governor Carroll Campbell recognized Tim Brett with the Order of the Palmetto on June 4, 1987, just shy of Tim’s thirty-fifth birthday. This award is the highest civilian honor granted by South Carolina’s chief executive to those who show extraordinary lifetime achievement and service at state and national levels. 

Jim Morton, who worked for Michelin North America liked what Tim had done under Campbell and invited him to join his team at Michelin as director of government affairs and community relations. The job involved managing community activities and lobbyists as well as overseeing corporate contributions. Tim assumed this role and remained with Michelin for seven years. One of his first responsibilities was planning the groundbreaking ceremony for the Michelin headquarters near Pelham Road. It turned out to be a huge affair with bleachers, a sizable crowd, and the governor in attendance. 

Tim worked with the government wherever Michelin had plants. According to Jim, Tim was “one of the best at working with general assembly, various legislative delegations, county and city councils.” Jim added that Tim will be missed because he was a player in a lot of things—not in the foreground, but in the background, adept at getting people to work together. The Michelin position also required travel to foreign countries. Tim loved to describe his trip to Cypress for a road rally where there were no guardrails. During his time at Michelin, Tim played a key role in advocating for a reciprocal driver’s license between France and the United States. Flo Colby, who served as an administrative assistant to both men and later worked at Tim’s public relations firm, remembers him as a good Christian boss who was exceedingly kind to those who worked with him.


In 1993, Tim decided to leave Michelin to manage his own independent public relations firms of varying sizes. In this new capacity, he would still carry out projects for Michelin. At one point, a key client was the Greenville Hospital System (now PRISMA). By 2015, Tim decided to create a smaller public relations firm which he named BrettSC. He became that company’s president and chose a select group of clients to serve. According to his website, dealing with complex political issues and developing communication strategies intrigued him.

If this were all, Tim Brett would have lived an impressive life. But this portrait is far from complete for he left behind an even greater legacy, a life characterized by extraordinary service to others and to his community and a deep faith in Jesus. 

Church Life

Tim Brett in his younger days

Tim regularly attended Mauldin First Baptist Church where he held many leadership roles including that of deacon and Sunday School teacher. Tim participated in a Monday morning Bible study, developing lifelong friendships and later in a Men’s Thursday morning Bible study. He served briefly as a staff member at the church and even coached a softball team. 

Tim’s service extended beyond his church and reached out into the community. Tim wanted others to know about this Jesus who had transformed his life. He volunteered with the Salvation Army and served on its board, even chairing it at one point. He poured himself into ensuring that the Kroc Center in Greenville, a Salvation Army project, was built. In October 2017, Tim met Bill Kaib who served with the Perry Correction Kairos Prison Ministry. Tim became intrigued with Kairos, serving as a helper and a voluntary chaplain, often counseling the men at that facility. At that time, Perry was one of the few prisons with no worship center. Bill relays that there is a 15,000 square foot worship center at Perry today, largely due to Tim’s efforts. Tim volunteered with many charitable organizations including Habitat for Humanity, the YMCA, Boy Scouts of America, and the Rotary Club where he was a past president.


Tim Brett at one of his many
volunteer activities

Leadership appointments just kept coming his way. Tim chaired a campaign to build the new Mauldin Library. He also co-chaired LEAD (Law Enforcement Appreciation Day) and actively supported gatherings to recognize law enforcement personnel. A former DOT Commissioner, Tim was also a key player on the board for creating the Southern Connector which opened in February 2001. That road was designed to relieve congestion on major highways, decrease traffic flow through Mauldin, and speed up the transport of goods. In October 2015, Governor Nikki Haley first appointed Tim to the Renewable Water Resources (ReWa) Board of Commissioners where he served for several years. ReWa provides wastewater treatment and collection services for the Upstate. 

Tim had a passion for politics and often helped candidates in their quest for office. Sometimes, he remarked that he was tired of politics and wanted to give it up. Still, the next day, he would be calling for contributions to get someone else elected! Tim championed Mauldin and the Upstate, seeking to improve his corner of the world in any way that he could.

Tim Brett, the Clemson Fan

Tim loved to play golf. He was highly competitive and hated to lose. He even journeyed to Scotland to play a few rounds. In addition, Tim was an avid Clemson fan and enjoyed the outdoors. But Tim excelled at making friends and helping folks. He had this way of connecting with others, forming lasting relationships, and lifting others up. 

According to Rev. Dr. Gary Strickland, “Tim was always looking for ways to serve people and to help them have a better life.”  Of note, Tim was both cousin and caregiver to John W. Kerns III of Simpsonville who served in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War and received a purple heart. Tim’s daughter Angela said that her dad did all these things “not for pride or his own gain but in order to show them Jesus.” 

In the end, Tim’s unwavering faith and his love of others saw him through a challenging year of health struggles. Rev. Dr. Gary Strickland, former pastor at Mauldin First Baptist Church, summarized Tim’s life with these simple words. “He made a difference. He made a difference not because of who he was, but because of the life that Jesus gave him. He made a difference because of Jesus and Jesus can make that same difference in you.”■


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