Michael Norman Shealy was born in 1951 at the McLinn Infirmary (now Shealy & Rice Accounting Firm) on US #1 in Batesburg, South Carolina. Since that day he has made a considerable impact on the Batesburg-Leesville community. The son of the late Norman and Mildred Shealy, Michael grew up in this small town that he has always called home. His early years were spent getting an education in the Batesburg-Leesville School District, hanging out in his father’s store soaking up knowledge, and just being a “good ole country” boy. As a freshman in high school Michael applied for a job at Ray Whitby’s grocery store and was soon behind the meat counter hand wrapping packages of meat and getting to personally know the customers. Michael continued his education at Batesburg-Leesville and worked for Mr. Ray until he made the decision to head to Georgia and graduated from Georgia Military College.
Upon returning to the Batesburg-Leesville community, and even before, Michael would ride with his father in his pickup truck to look for and occasionally purchase rural acreage in surrounding counties. Michael capitalized on those experiences and at age 19 secured his real estate license. Shortly after his 21st birthday he obtained a South Carolina Real Estate Broker’s license, founded and opened Shealy Realty, and became broker in charge – a position which he still holds.
Real estate was always Michael’s passion. His first Shealy Realty transaction was 100 acres for $15,000. In the mid 70’s he was instrumental in forming the Ridge Board of Realtors where he served as President, Director to the South Carolina Association of Realtors, and Realtor of the Year. Since then he has earned the Certified Residential Specialist and Certified Real Estate Brokerage designations. And in 2016 the National Association of Realtors awarded him the Realtor Emeritus designation.
With his help, the Batesburg-Leesville community has been able to grow in many ways. Like his father, Michael loves working the land. Whether it’s subdividing a large tract of land into smaller tracts to make it possible for folks to become landowners and enjoy country life as well or creating local communities like Summerland, Addy Crossing, Millerwoods, or Livingston Place. However, his favorite project was the rebuilding of the historic Brodie Mill Pond and the Captain John Quattlebaum Memorial Dam in western Lexington County.
Community involvement has always been at the top of Michael’s priority list. Throughout the years he has advocated supporting and giving back to the community and upholds this concept by serving on several local committees. He was a member of the original Steering Committee for the South Carolina Poultry Festival, which by the way is 31 years strong. He served as chairman for two years and co-chairman with another founding member, Brent Shealy, for three years, and continues to serve on that committee. He is also a member of the Batesburg-Leesville Economic Development Committee, currently serving his third term as Commissioner of the Lexington County Planning Commission and is a member of the Nominating and Qualifications Committee of the Board of Directors for Mid-Carolina Electric Co-Op.
As a lifelong community member Michael enjoys not only the planning part of community growth but always insists on getting his “hands dirty.” He oversaw landscaping and the installation of the clock and railroad monument located at the previous Town Hall, assisted in the design of the promenade on Columbia Avenue and the construction and landscaping of the entrance sign at Leesville College Park.
Although “free time” is not in Michael’s vocabulary every now and then he makes time to do things that he truly enjoys. Who would have guessed at the age of sixty something he would become a gang member? He and “the gang” take frequent motorcycle rides when the weather is right and currently have a ten day, 2,000 mile trip to Key West under their belts. You can also find Michael on his tractor, both in town and out in the country, working the land and fiddling with his irrigation systems. Traditional family events such as the Cooper River Bridge Run also keep Michael feeling young. Although he also enjoys fishing, fresh and salt water, his family is grateful they are not depending on his “catch” to feed the family.
With all the planning commissions that Michael attends it just doesn’t seem proper to leave out the Chinquapin Economic Development Committee. According to David Oswalt, committee member, “Michael was unanimously voted Chairman of the Board Emeritus due to his vast knowledge of the community and surrounding counties and is referred to as Mr. Batesburg-Leesville.”
As teenagers hanging out at the local horseback riding stables Michael met his bride of 44 years, Betsy Moses. Little did they know that the coming years would bring two children, Brandee Quarles and MSgt. Chris Shealy, along with six grandchildren, Payton, Kaito, Ellee, Cody, Aiden, and Alyssa, and yet another nickname, Addie.
No matter in what capacity you know him, Michael Shealy has devoted more than half of his life leading by example. “Actions speak louder than words.” Preservation, beautification, and presentation of the community are evident in his contributions. That is why this year’s Distinguished Citizen Award goes to Michael Shealy.