Charles S. Way, Jr., 1937-2022


It is rare these days to hear of an individual who is able to make real and lasting change in the world.  Charlie Way was that kind of person – a standard bearer of change for the better.

Charles S. Way, Jr. a leading South Carolina businessman, passionate philanthropist and a devoted family man, passed away on September 6, 2022, at 84 years old. Way left his indelible mark as distinctly on the areas of art, civic affairs and philanthropy as he did in the realms of business.

His impressive array of accomplishments are certainly attributed to his business acumen, but what set him apart was his equally expansive assemblage of relationships. Way explained his philosophy, “Be straightforward in all your dealings. And you always want to leave a little something on the table. Never squeeze the last penny out of a deal, because you want to be able to do business with that person at a later date.”

When South Carolina leaders were faced with formidable challenges, they called on Charlie Way. He answered the call time after time to help the South Carolina Commerce department, Spoleto Festival, South Carolina State University, The Galliard redevelopment project, University of South Carolina and the South Carolina Aquarium.

Real Estate Development Legacy

After practicing law for 13 years,  Way joined the Charleston-based real estate business founded by his father-in-law, J.C. Long, in 1945, overseeing operations as president of The Beach Company from 1975 – 1999. Way served as Chairman of The Beach Company’s Board of Directors until his death. Throughout his tenure as president of The Beach Company, he guided many South Carolina investments, including the purchase of Kiawah Island from the royal family of Kuwait for $105 million, a transaction that remains the largest such land acquisition in state history. Another notable investment tied to Way includes Wild Dunes Resort on the Isle of Palms, South Carolina (1972).

John Darby, who succeeded Way as president and Chairman of The Beach Company reflected on his life of service, “He was a pillar of the community with an extensive list of accomplishments and accolades,” he said. “These are a testament to his love of the Palmetto State. He will be missed dearly.”

Arts & Culture

As President of Spoleto Festival in 1984, Way additionally served as Chairman of the Board from 1985-1991. The organization flourished under his leadership, and Spoleto Festival evolved into a major arts and tourism event in South Carolina. A reflection of his work with the festival, Way was awarded the Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Governor’s Award for the Arts, now known as the South Carolina Governor’s Award for the Arts, in 1990 for his outstanding contribution to the state’s art community. An active member of the South Carolina Tourism Council, Way was devoted to advancing the state’s tourism industry. As a result of his advocacy, he was chosen as the organization’s Man of the Year in 1987.

Business & Enterprise

One of Way’s most gratifying endeavors was negotiating the purchase of Kiawah Island in 1988. Way was approached by longtime friend and business partner, Frank Brumley and Pat McKinney, formerly with Sea Pines Plantation, to lead a team to develop the island, along with Charles P. Darby, III, Leonard Long, Jr, and financial partner, Morgan Stanley. The group purchased the struggling development from the royal family of Kuwait for $105 million. The Beach Company sold its position along with Morgan Stanley in 1997. Kiawah’s overall development plan remains a model for conservation, enhancement of open space and preservation of the Island’s environmental integrity.

Dedicated to attracting and supporting local businesses, Way served from 1993-1998 on the Charleston Regional Development Alliance Board of Directors, where he was Chairman from 1995-1998.

In 1994, under Governor Carroll Campbell, Way was awarded the Order of the Palmetto, considered the state’s highest civilian honor. Eight years later, he was again awarded the Order of the Palmetto, this time by Governor Jim Hodges. 

In 1997, Way was named Chairman of the Palmetto Business Forum and, in 1998, he was elected to the Executive Committee and Board of Directors of the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce.

In 1999, Governor Hodges appointed Way to serve as the state’s Secretary of Commerce. During his four years in this position, the state experienced significant achievements in attracting industrial development and job growth. He was especially proud of his efforts generating jobs for the state’s rural counties that were often bypassed in favor of more urban centers.

Economic Development

Active in the business landscape of his hometown of Orangeburg, Way was inducted into the Orangeburg County Chamber of Commerce Business Hall of Fame in 2016 and was named the Times and Democrat’s Person of the Year for his outstanding contributions to the community as a whole and for his leadership and assistance in aiding South Carolina State University’s financial woes. In 2005, Way was inducted into the South Carolina Business Hall of Fame, joining a league of outstanding individuals who made legendary contributions to the state’s free enterprise system.

Education & Philanthropic Involvement

Way was especially known for his work with educational and civic organizations, including his alma mater, the University of South Carolina. Way served as a member of the school’s Executive Committee and on the Board of Trustees of the Darla Moore School of Business. In 2001, he was elected Chairman of the Bicentennial Committee, during which he led the most successful campaign in the school’s history, raising $500 million for the institution. Way additionally served on the Board of Board of Trustees and the Executive Committee for the South Carolina Aquarium, and on the Executive Committee and President of the Huntington Society for Brookgreen Gardens. In 2013, he received the Mary Ramsay Civic Award, an honor granted to the Lowcountry’s philanthropic leaders who have made extraordinary civic and charitable contributions to the community.

The Future

Way leaves The Beach Company with a vibrant future. Owned by the Darby and Way families now on its fifth generation, The Beach Company has become an industry leader in the Southeastern U.S. and has a long history of successful real estate developments, construction projects, acquisitions, sales, and management of commercial and residential properties. With more than 350 employees, The Beach Company is active in more than 20 cities throughout the Southeast. Today, The Beach Company’s investments,  include residential and resort properties, office buildings, shopping centers, industrial parks and land across the  Southeast.