Official Obituary of

Curtis B. Inabinett, Sr.

July 11, 1931 ~ June 26, 2023 (age 91) 91 Years Old

Curtis Inabinett, Sr. Obituary

Curtis Benjamin Inabinett, Sr., was born on July 11, 1931, in Islandton, South Carolina, to the parents of Cornelius Benjamin Inabinett and Eula Lee Stephens – Inabinett. Curtis is named after his father, whose middle name is Benjamin, and his uncle Curtis Stephens who’s named after his father, Essie Curtis Stephens.

 His father, Cornelius, died when he was eleven, leaving him to attend to his younger brothers and sisters by cultivating and managing the family farm. They raised pigs, harvested cotton, planted corn, and did sharecropping on the farm. Curtis attended Deep Creek Elementary School and Colleton High School. As a high school student, he rode a bicycle 15 miles back and forth which equaled thirty miles to high school round trip, while at the same time doing odd jobs in the town of Walterboro, South Carolina, to support his mother and siblings.

After graduating, Curtis entered South Carolina State College in Orangeburg on a scholarship presented by Sears and Roebuck. On campus, he continued to work odd jobs, and with the help of his cousin James Stephens, they supported each other morally, spiritually, and financially. Often, Curtis did not have money for books or food and had to rely on friends and family to survive. On one occasion, Curtis asked a relative to help him buy books, and the relative replied, ‘No, I only have enough money for one more drink of liquor.’ On another occasion, Curtis asked a local Orangeburg barber shop owner for a loan because he needed money to buy a car to return to his vocational agriculture teacher’s job at North District High School in Hampton County. The barber shop owner declined, stating, “Curtis, you will never be able to pay me back because you just don’t have it in your makeup as a person.”

Two months later, Curtis drove a brand-new Chevy to the same barbershop and said, ‘Thanks for not believing in me because you were one of the driving forces that made me believe in myself; I now take my business elsewhere.’

 After leaving South Carolina State College in 1954, armed with a BS Degree in agriculture and driving a brand-new car, Curtis did more graduate work in Hampton County and later became an active member in the United States Army, serving two years during the Korean War. He also served as an active reservist for an additional six years.

 In 1957 the brash, handsome, strong, and convicted young man with a fireball of an attitude and youthful appearance became the agriculture teacher at Baptist Hill High School in Charleston County and remained in that position for thirteen years. While a teacher, Inabinett became interested in politics and was appointed the first black to the Charleston County Election Commission. Inabinett was also the first black salesman hired by Sears and Roebuck in Charleston, a position he held part-time aside from teaching. While a teacher, two life-changing moments occurred.      The first life-changing moment, on one hot morning at six am, before school was scheduled to start, Inabinett and one of his former students were transporting a truckload of fertilizer in preparation to plant corn for the upcoming season. The student previously served a tour of duty in the Vietnam War and had a bullet lodged in his head. According to doctors, the bullet was too close to a specific part of his brain, and they were afraid to remove it and risk killing him. The student and teacher Inabinett had become close and had established a father-son type relationship. After attempting to transport the fertilizer on that hazy morning with no cross bars or railroad indication warning signs on the tracks, they were hit by an oncoming Amtrak train traveling at a high rate of speed. The impact killed the student and left Inabinett with a broken back and multiple injuries. This occurrence was a defining moment for Inabinett. 

The second life-altering experience came when Charleston County decided to eliminate all agricultural programs in high schools, leaving Inabinett without a job. The following school year, Inabinett successfully applied and was hired as Principal of R.D. Schroder Middle School. He entered that school year in an entire body cast due to the accident. He oversaw two schools with two different campuses which proved to be a challenge, despite the challenges of having a broken back. Inabinett persevered, recovered, and stayed Principal of R. D. Schroder Middle School until he retired in 1989. Along the way, Inabinett was elected as a member of the Council in the town of Ravenel, became Mayor of Ravenel, where he served two terms, and received national attention when it was discovered he was the only person in the nation to be Principal of a school, Mayor of a town, and have an all-female all-white Council as reported by Jet and Ebony Magazines. It should also be mentioned that Inabinett was the first African American to win a court case in Ravenel when he sued whites for hunting on his land.

 Once, Mayor Inabinett furnished, loaded, and personally drove a truck to South Florida with relief goods sponsored by the town of Ravenel and the South Carolina Sea-Island Small Farmers Cooperative to the citizens who were affected by Hurricane Andrew. As Mayor, after an arson set fire to the Ravenel Town Hall, Inabinett was instrumental in securing the new Charleston County George W. Tumbleston, Jr. Service Center building in Ravenel, which currently houses the mayor’s office, county courtroom, and tax office. Inabinett also introduced to Council the idea of having all town employees under the South Carolina retirement system. He also established the town’s first volunteer fire department. When CSX and the Exchange Club wanted to move the railroad depot from Ravenel, Inabinett stepped in and kept it from being taken to the Exchange Club fairgrounds in Ladson, South Carolina. That building still stands in Ravenel and has recently been renovated by the current administration.

 After Inabinett’s term as Mayor ended, State Representative McKinley Washington, Jr., won a South Carolina Senate seat leaving his South Carolina State Representative seat vacant. The citizens of House District 116 rallied and elected Curtis Inabinett to the position he held for ten years. Representative Inabinett served on the committee that recommended relocating the state’s farmers market to its new location and was one of the organizers that brought Willie Nelson’s first Farm Aid Concert to South Carolina. He was also one of two Representatives Land O’ Lakes chose to go to Kingston, Jamaica, to help farmers establish tilapia fish farms.       

 A few years after Inabinett’s tenure as State Representative was over, a lawsuit was filed in Charleston County by famous Emmett Till Attorney Armand Derfner in conjunction with State Senators Herbert Fielding and McKinley Washington about obtaining equal representation on Charleston’s County Council, which meant that there were not enough blacks or minority representatives on Council. Until that point, in the entire history of Charleston’s County Council, only two blacks were elected, Mrs. Marjorie Amos – Frazier and Mr. Lonnie Hamilton. The successful suitopened the doors to single-member districts in Charleston County.

 Inabinett ran, and along with Mr. Henry Darby and Mr. Teddie Pryor, they became the three blacks winning County Council seats, setting the tone for other minorities to follow. Now minorities have a right to equal representation on Council, leading to Councilman Teddy Pryor becoming Chairman.

After serving many years in public life in many capacities, Inabinett remained an active citizen in state and local affairs. He was actively involved in his church and community and strongly supported the Federation of Southern Cooperatives. He enjoyed gardening, fishing and was a devoted follower of his South Carolina State University football team. He is the recipient of the “Citizens of the Year Award” presented by Mu Alpha Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity in Charleston, South Carolina, two “Citizen of the Year Awards” presented by the sixth district of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity which includes South and North Carolina. Inabinett is one of the founding members of the South Carolina Sea–Island Small Farmers’ Cooperative and its last original board member. The South Carolina Sea–Island Farmers’ Cooperative is the site of the last visible cross-burning ceremony held by the Ku Klux Klan in Charleston County. That site holds significant value in Charleston County because it is where the “1739 Slave Rebellion” originally started. It ended in the deaths of many African American slaves and white slave owners in the Parkers Ferry area.

Curtis is a life member of the NAACP, a life member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, life member of the City-Wide Club of Clubs in Houston, Texas, where he once served as their guest speaker. He’s been featured in Bell South’s annual African American Historical Calendar, which features people of color from South Carolina who have made positive changes that have affected the lives of South Carolinians in positive ways. Along with Congressman James Clyburn, Inabinett is among the first twelve to appear on the South Carolina State University annual calendar. He’s the recipient of the “City of Charleston’s Moja Arts Festival Tribute Award” for his contribution to politics in South Carolina. He received the first-lifetime achievement award from the St. Paul’s Music Festival, presented by Chairperson Curtis Inabinett, Jr., and sponsored by the towns of Hollywood and Ravenel, South Carolina. Curtis also served many years on the Federation of Southern Cooperatives board of directors, serving over 50,000 predominantly African American farmers and covering several southern states. Inabinett is also the recipient of the highest civilian honor in South Carolina, ‘The Order of the Palmetto,’ which sites him as a ‘Palmetto Gentleman,’ which was presented by Governor Jim Hodges. Curtis holds an honorary Doctoral Degree from the University of Charleston and has done extensive graduate work at South Carolina State University, where he was involved in its 1890 program. Curtis also did graduate degree work at the Citadel Military College and Clemson University, where he was a part of their fish exchange program. 

On January 10, 2013, a bill introduced by Congressman Jim Clyburn to the One Hundred Twelfth Congress of the United States of America was presented to President Barack Obama, which was signed into law designating the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 6239 Savannah Highway in Ravenel, South Carolina as the ‘Representative Curtis B. Inabinett, Sr., Post Office.’

 In the 124th session of the South Carolina General Assembly, South Carolina State Representative Wendall Gilliard and South Carolina State Senator Margie Bright agreed to name a highway after Curtis Inabinett, Sr. Senator Bright introduced a bill on January 12, 2021, to name a 15-mile portion of Highway seventeen in Charleston County, the ‘Curtis B. Inabinett, Sr., Highway.’ The bill was introduced in the South Carolina House of Representatives on May 11, 2021, and adopted by the South Carolina General Assembly on February 1, 2022.

Curtis Benjamin Inabinett, Sr., lived a long and servant life and departed peacefully in his sleep on June 26, 2023, leaving his loving and caring wife of 66 years, Ethel Joy Inabinett. They have one son, Dr. Curtis Inabinett, Jr., DM, one God son, Mr. Kryston Miller, also of Ravenel, and an adopted nephew and niece, Mr. William Farrior, III., of Columbia, South Carolina, and Mrs. Dana Louise Farrior – Davenport of Las Vegas Nevada. He also leaves to cherish his memories, many cousins, other relatives, and friends. 

He also leaves siblings Pearl Genayn Inabinett – Gist of Clinton, South Carolina; Jacob Roy Inabinett (Earline) of Walterboro, South Carolina; and Penna R. Inabinett (Carolyn) of Smokes, South Carolina, to cherish his memory.

 Preceding him in death was his father, Cornelius Benjamin Inabinett; his mother, Eula Lee Stephens – Inabinett; sisters Aletha Inabinett, and Benzer L. Inabinett – Maddox; brothers Tom Inabinett, Lamar, D. Inabinett, and Marcus L. Inabinett.     


The Celebration of Life Services for Curtis Inabinettt, Sr. are as follows:

Friday, July 7, 2023

Public Viewing-3:00PM-7:00PM Hamilton’s Funeral Home (218 Pearson Street, Walterboro, SC)

Saturday, July 8, 2023 1:00 PM 

Charleston First Assembly

2957 Savannah Highway

Charleston, SC.


Westview Memorial Gardens

7850 Bells Highway

Ruffin, SC 29475

Please Keep the Inabinett family in your prayers. 

ATTENTION: Due to the COVID- 19 virus pandemic  and in the effort to help stop the spread of the Virus (MASK ARE STILL REQUIRED WITHIN OUR FACILITY). Walk through viewing only and please remember that face masks must be worn at all times as you enter funeral home and service. We will only allow a certain number of individuals inside the funeral home at one time. Please, remember to keep your distance as much as possible, and wash and sanitize your hands. Thank you for your cooperation and with helping us to do our part in stopping the spread of the Virus.

Please leave the family a note of Condolence, light a candle of remembrance, or order a floral remembrance piece.  Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.  And whether I go ye know, and the way ye know. John 14:1-4

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July 7, 2023

3:00 PM to 7:00 PM
Hamilton's Funeral Home
218 Pearson Street
29488, Walterboro 29488

Celebration of Life
July 8, 2023

1:00 PM
Charleston First Assembly
2957 Savannah Highway
Charleston, SC 29414


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