This Saturday, Jan. 23, will be the first anniversary of Tommy Wyche’s death. Tommy is known for his significant contributions to the revitalization of Greenville and conservation of the Upstate, but many do not realize that Tommy was also an artist, a musician and an innovator. To celebrate Tommy’s contributions, The Greenville Symphony is dedicating its January 23-24th concerts to his memory as Tommy Wyche Memorial Concerts. It will perform Tommy’s composition, Moonbeams. And, appropriately, the moon will join in, reaching fullness over the Peace Center during the Saturday concert.
Moonbeams is a beautifully melodic, shimmering work. It suggests an image of the moon shining brightly over us and our region as we explore the beauty of our mountains and treasures of our city – all part of Tommy’s legacy.
Thanks to Tommy, we enjoy 100,000 acres of protected pristine mountain wilderness, including Jones Gap and Caesars Head state parks, the Jocassee Gorges, the watersheds of the Table Rock and Poinsett Reservoirs, and the land between them, which he named the Mountain Bridge Wilderness. Thanks to Tommy, Naturaland Trust owns and protects some of the more beautiful land in the world. His nature photography books have shown the world the splendor of our Blue Ridge escarpment and the importance of preserving it.
Tommy’s vision and work were critical to the transformation of Greenville and the Upstate. He was an important part of creating many of the things that make our city great — the Peace Center, the Governor’s School for the Arts, Liberty Bridge, Falls Park, RiverPlace, Main Street, the Liberty Square complex, the Hyatt, the Bon Secours Wellness Arena, Caine Halter Family YMCA, Heritage Green (site of Greenville Little Theatre, the Art Museum, and the Children’s Museum), and Artisphere. He managed to do all of this while at the same time building an innovative law firm in our city which is recognized as a leading firm by international standards and imbued with his culture of community service.
But that’s not all. In addition to his more well-known accomplishments, Tommy won tennis championships and earned top rankings even when he was 70. He loved the arts, especially piano, which he played almost every day. He rarely missed a Greenville Symphony performance. He composed music. He held patents on his inventions. He took the time to encourage and mentor younger attorneys, political leaders, artists, and business people – many of whom lead our community and state today.
What was the secret of his success? Yes, he was extremely talented, wise and bright. But bright, wise and talented people don’t always do what Tommy did. I don’t know all his secrets. But I can suggest a few.
He knew it is much easier to accomplish something when you are not concerned about getting credit for it. He did not care about credit for himself, only about achieving the goal. He had a rare ability to understand other people, put himself in their place, and appreciate their gifts. He was patient, determined, kind and generous. He truly loved Greenville, and this region, and wanted to protect and enhance it for everyone. These things surely drew others to his efforts and fueled his achievements.
Tommy Wyche is gone, but his legacy lives on. It is almost impossible to enjoy the treasures of the city without thinking of him. And it will be a treat to be at the Peace Center across from RiverPlace to hear the symphony play Tommy’s Moonbeams as the full moon rises over Greenville this Saturday evening.
He would not want us to praise him, but he would be delighted to think that we enjoyed his music at the Peace Center and appreciated the full moon shining over us as we walked along the river or Main Street Saturday night. He would be even more delighted if we were succeeding in our own projects to make Greenville a better place.