Red Bank, SC (Paul Kirby) – Lexington County Councilman Bobby Keisler, affectionately known as “Gravedigger” because of his successful gravedigging business, says he will not seek re-election in 2020. He’s held the District Five seat that represents Red Bank and South Congaree on the county’s council since 2003.
Keisler, the oldest member on the council, said that it has been a pleasure serving the people of his district but it’s time to step aside and let new and younger blood take the lead. His wife has had health problems in recent years, and he lost a son to cancer last year. That required he come out of retirement and return to work in the family business until another heir could take over.
Keisler said Monday when he was first elected, he made a list of things he wanted to accomplish for his neighbors in District 5. He wanted a fire station and park for recreation in Red Bank and a library in South Congaree. He also wanted to help find a grocer to fill an empty building that was empty on Main Street in South Congaree when the Winn Dixie closed. He has checked off all those boxes and more.
Keisler said there’s been a well-equipped fire station in Red Bank for more than a decade now. The park off Nazareth Road is often referred to as “Bobby’s Park” out of affection for the man. It has equestrian show areas, is home to the Lexington County Girls’ Softball program, has a play area with picnic shelters, and a BMX track that just hosted the Gold Cup Regional Qualifier. It is also home to Red Bank’s official Christmas tree. There’s also a beautiful library and a recently remodeled Food Lion in South Congaree. He said none of this could have been accomplished without the help of other council members and agencies. “I’ll forever have the friends and relationships I’ve made over these years, even after leaving the council,” Keisler said.
Anyone who knows him and his voting record knows Keisler has always been a strong supporter of public safety. He was a reserve police officer in South Congaree before being elected. He said he and his fellow council members have made major strides in that area. The county has achieved a lower ISO rating that gives his neighbors lower fire insurance premiums, and Lexington County is known across the state for its top-notch EMS and fire services.
County residents can now make payments on their property tax bills rather than having to come up with a large amount all at once. Keisler said he and the other councilmembers he’s served with made that possible. “I knew taxes were hard for working people to pay all at once,” Keisler said. “To me, that’s just doing what was right.”
Keisler said he’s feeling good, but his wife isn’t. “She has been my biggest supporter,” he said. “She’s a private person and never liked being in the spotlight. When I was elected, she told me go do the public things I needed to, she’d stay home and be there. No matter what time, she’s been there waiting for me. She’s always been true to her word. Now, it’s time that I stay home and spend some quality time with her.”
Keisler said his children and grandchildren have been big supporters. “Donna, Rhonda, and Jody, when he was here, they all helped me when I needed them. Even their husbands and children worked hard. It’s time we all took a break.”
Keisler and his family have supported the area in ways too numerous to count. His family has been the catalyst for a Red Bank Christmas Celebration and Tree Lighting at the Nazareth Road Park. He’s co-sponsored and hosted a Public Safety Picnic each spring with Caughman Harman Funeral Home for years. They’ve fed hundreds of first responders annually as a way of saying thanks to these hardworking men and women. He’s also worked closely with the Lexington Municipal Joint Water & Sewer Authority to expand both water lines with fire hydrants and sewer service across some of the more rural areas of the county.
Keisler says he has no plans after leaving the council other than spending time with his wife. He said he hasn’t decided if he will endorse anyone. “I’ll always do what’s right for Red Bank, South Congaree, and Lexington County, but my wife deserves more time than I’ve given her,” he concluded. “I think it’s time for us to spend time together.”