Family and friends honor man credited with Main Street revitalization plan

TRAVELERS REST, S.C. – City officials, friends and family members of Tom Keith recently gathered to remember the man they say is responsible for helping to transform Travelers Rest's Main Street into the revitalized cityscape that it is becoming today, officially dedicating a clock in his honor.

The clock, located along the Swamp Rabbit Trail near the intersection of Main Street and McElhaney Road, stands as a memorial to Keith, who passed away in January 2013. It stands in a small "pocket park," one of several Keith made sure to include into his downtown redesign, an effort that centered around the then-unpopular idea of reducing the number of lanes that went through the downtown area.

“Main Street in Travelers Rest was a very different place when Tom Keith was tasked with visioning and creating a sense of place for our town,” City Administrator Dianna Turner said. “He knew the best approach, removing personal preferences and politics, and his persistence helped us create the Main Street we know today.”

Turner said many of the advancements along Main Street since the streetscape project was completed in 2009 – the new restaurants and new businesses – are “due to the beautiful public spaces that have supported this private investment.”

“His vision helped to make all of these positive changes possible,” Turner said.

Arbor Engineering's JD Martin talks about his friend and former partner, Tom Keith, at a clock dedication ceremony held last week at the Cafe at Williams Hardware.

Keith is also credited for designing Trailblazer park, transforming the former Travelers Rest High School site into a multi-use entertainment complex and park facility.

“He didn’t miss a single detail, down to the hillside where all the children play,” Turner said. “It’s difficult to go there for a concert or event and not think about the man who designed it – the man who created an exceptionally beautiful space.”

In addition to the Travelers Rest projects, Keith's legacy is reflected in his work throughout the Greenville area, including Falls of the Reedy Park, Hollingsworth Legacy Park at Verdae, Kroc Center and Kroc Center tennis complex, Greer City Park and City of Mauldin Cultural Center.

“Tom Keith was a man whose talent, determination, and hard work brought joy to so many,” said Travelers Rest Mayor Wayne McCall. “He is truly missed, but he will never be forgotten. He is forever etched in the history of Travelers Rest.”

The Travelers Rest clock was donated to the city by Arbor Engineering, where Keith worked since 1987, eventually becoming the president and a partner.