Of all the qualities Horry County Board of Education Vice Chairman John Poston possessed, the one mentioned the most was that he was a man of integrity.
“John was a stand-up guy. Honesty and integrity led his life. He was very involved in his children’s lives, and loved his wife and his children,” said Tom Anderson, who has known Poston and his family for almost 20 years. “I’m still stunned. I was really anticipating him coming home.”
Poston, 52, died Saturday after being hospitalized with COVID-19 complications in late December. He had been on a ventilator for more than two weeks. He leaves behind his wife, Robin, and three children: Henry, Mary and Abby.
Horry County Schools issued a statement late Saturday: “He worked tirelessly for our students and staff and served our school communities with great honor and adoration. Our sincere condolences to his family and friends, and we pray for their comfort during these difficult times."
Born in Lake City, Poston was a civil engineer, having received degrees from Francis Marion University and Clemson University, according to his obituary. He was first elected to the school board in 2008, representing the District 8 seat that includes part of Carolina Forest and Conway. When board chairman Ken Richardson was elected as chairman, he made Poston his vice chairman. He was preparing to do it again.
“When it came to parliamentary stuff, John is as smart as I’ve ever seen,” Richardson said. “I knew when I got elected that John was going to be my vice chairman because I had that much confidence in him. He had been on the board that long and a guy that sharp, nobody had ever given him the chance to be vice chairman.”
Poston and Richardson could often disagree, the chairman said.
“John was like a brother to me,” he said. “We argued a lot, and that’s what I liked the most about him. There’s times I had to change his mind and there’s times he had to change my mind, but we always had each other’s back.”
One example was putting kids back into schools during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Richardson said they rarely had a conversation where Poston wouldn’t bring up the topic.
“John fought me the hardest about putting these kids back in school,” Richardson added. “For something like this to happen, I don’t know.”
While Richardson chaired the board of directors for Horry Georgetown Technical College, the school did a lot of work with Castles Engineering, where Poston worked at the time.
“He’s never told me anything that wasn’t the way it was supposed to be,” the chairman said.
David Cox said he began his time on the school board at the same time as Poston.
“John and I began serving together in 2008 and sat elbow to elbow for years. He was a great board member, always thoughtfully prepared,” Cox said. “John was a good, decent man who loved his Lord and loved his family. He cared deeply about the children in Horry County and about their education. I will miss him; he was my friend.”
Conway City Councilman William Goldfinch served with Poston in the Waccamaw Sertoma Club. He said Poston was on the state board for Sertoma and was involved with Camp Sertoma in the Upstate.
Goldfinch said John and Robin Poston would transport kids back and forth to the camp and coordinated that effort locally.
“He was really passionate about it – John really spearheaded that effort to get our club really involved with getting these kids up to the camp. He would speak about it frequently [at meetings],” Goldfinch said. “He was very practical, and had a ton of common sense. It’s just an incredible loss.”
Janice Morreale, a former District 5 school board member, said her heart goes out to Poston’s family.
“John was a champion of teachers and tirelessly fought for what’s best for students,” she said. "It was an honor to work alongside him on the Horry County School Board."
Rayburn Poston is an academic advisor at the Academy for Technology and Academics as well as the SALTT (Student Angler League Tournament Trail) Fishing League director. He said John Poston was one of his boat captains for many years.
Rayburn Poston said John Poston loved fishing with his son, Henry, and even when Henry was unable to go fishing, he would offer to take any kids who wanted to fish.
“John would always return from fishing all day with his son with a smile, even on days when the wind and a rough Winyah Bay brought him in soaking wet,” Rayburn Poston said. “He would thank me every time for having an event to enjoy with his son.”
Despite their common last name, the two Postons are not family.
“No, we are not related, but it feels like I lost a brother when he died,” Rayburn Poston said.
He said one particularly memorable fishing trip with John Poston involved a huge school of redfish that the school board member “said were everywhere, and the perfect size.”
John Poston’s son tried every lure in the tackle box but nothing would bite.
“I responded saying, ‘Man, you have character because some people would just throw a big cast net,’ then he stopped me and said, ‘No way, I want my son to learn sometimes in life you do all you can, but cheating is never worth any reward,'” Rayburn recalled.
John Poston’s family will receive friends on Tuesday from 4-7 p.m. at Goldfinch Funeral Home in Conway, and his memorial service will take place at 3 p.m. on Wednesday at the First Baptist Church in Conway. The service will be officiated by the Rev. Rocky Taylor and the Rev. Paul Langston. Burial will be private.
In accordance with current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, face masks and social distancing will be required at the visitation and funeral service.
HCS spokeswoman Lisa Bourcier said that information on how Poston’s board seat will be filled will be shared with the board at a later date.