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Al Hitchcock receives state award

By Jackie R. Broach
Coastal Observer

For more than 30 years, Al Hitchcock has worked to grow and improve Murrells Inlet, going about his business quietly, if not always unseen.

“He’s not much for words, but he’s big on action,” said Hitchcock’s daughter, Somer Heise. “He’s not the kind of person who stands up and shouts from a soap box about what he’s doing. He just does it.”

Hitchcock, an owner of Drunken Jack’s restaurant, was recently recognized for his contributions with one of the state’s top honors, the Order of the Silver Crescent.

The award, which is given to those who make significant contributions to their community, was presented by the governor at the Statehouse as part of Hospitality Day events last month.

Hitchcock was nominated by state Sen. Ray Cleary.

“In my role as a senator, I’ve learned about everything he does for Murrells Inlet,” Cleary said. “There is not a function that goes on that he’s not involved in making it happen. He gives his time, talents and business to make the area a better place, and that’s what that award is all about.”

The governor often gets someone else to present the award, but was so impressed with Hitchcock’s contributions, he wanted to do the job himself, Cleary said.

Hitchcock helped establish the Marsh Walk that helped bring in new business for Murrells Inlet restaurants, co-founded the group that pushed to make Sunday liquor sales legal in Georgetown County and co-founded the popular Murrells Inlet Seafood Festival in the 1980s and early 90s.

He has also served on the boards of numerous groups, including Murrells Inlet 2020, the Murrells Inlet-Garden City Fire District and the Hospitality Association of South Carolina.

Heise, who is director of human resources at Drunken Jack’s, can’t remember a time when her dad wasn’t working for the inlet.

“I’ve always kind of jokingly said he was the unofficial mayor of Murrells Inlet,” she said.

As a child, she said she dreaded going to the grocery store with Hitchcock, because she knew he would stop to talk to everyone he passed.

Hitchcock’s best traits are that he genuinely cares about those who live in the community and treats everyone fairly, she said.

Hitchcock said he wasn’t looking for recognition with any of the projects he has taken on for Murrells Inlet, but it’s nice to have.

“I’m glad somebody noticed what I’ve been doing, but it’s not going to make a difference in how I do things,” he said. “I’m going to keep doing the same thing I have been and pushing as hard as I can, because I want to see Murrells Inlet be successful.”

Hitchcock realized long ago that what’s good for his community is also good for him, and when the inlet thrives, so does his business, he said.

Hitchcock said his future goals for improving Murrells Inlet include beautification to its main thoroughfares, along Business 17 and Bypass 17.

Murrells Inlet 2020 is raising money to landscape medians along the highways, and a streetscape project to improve Business 17 is under way.

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