West Columbia honors late Mayor Wyman M. Rish with park dedication
A father and son riding by on twin bikes, students from the nearby University of South Carolina running their daily miles and families out for a casual stroll all could be seen enjoying Riverwalk Park on Thursday afternoon as the City of West Columbia honored the man who made it possible.
Commemorating the legacy of the late Wyman M. “Mac” Rish, the community park along the Congaree River now has a brand-new Wall of Honor with a description of the late mayor’s civic and military achievements prominently featured. West Columbia Mayor Joe Owens, who served with Rish on City Council, agreed that the accolade are well deserved at the dedication ceremony.
“Mac was a true hero in every sense of the word,” he said. “He was the kindest person but also a warrior.”
Rish was elected to City Council in 1989 and served until his death in December of 2003. During his tenure as mayor, West Columbia became the second-largest municipality in Lexington County. Notable additions to the city that Rish had a part in range from construction of a second water plant on Lake Murray to development of the Riverbanks Botanical Gardens.
Owens recalled how hard Rish specifically advocated to enhance the scenic riverside area of his city and make it available to all for outdoor recreation and exercise.
“We were always long on ideas but short on money,” he said.
As he added, collaborations between the city and Lexington County and the addition of federal grants allowed the Riverwalk Park and Amphitheater to be what it is today – a place Rish enjoyed himself until his death. His wife, Kathy, was in attendance Thursday and shared stories of Rish visiting the Park to walk or just to sit.
“This could not be a more perfect tribute. Mac loved the outdoors,” she said.
“It’s a memorable day that we can honor him,” echoed Councilmember Dale Harley, who also worked with Rish on council with Owens and Councilman Eric Fowler. “It was a privilege to work with Mac.”
Rish not only pushed to see progress made in West Columbia but was known as a fighter for his country. Among his military commendations are the Distinguished Flying Cross and National Defense Service Medal.
“He fought cancer as courageously as he fought in Vietnam,” Owens said.
The West Columbia Riverwalk Park is located at 109 Alexander Road beside the Gervais Street Bridge. The park is dog‐friendly and ADA accessible, has ample parking and features easy access to neighboring shopping and dining.