Miss Cassie Connor
Mr. Byrnes' Personal Assistant And Confidante
the death or Miss Cassie Connor, secretary to elder statesman James
F. Byrnes for nearly four decades spanning the zenith of his career,
Mr. and Mrs. Byrnes suffered a loss like unto that of an only child.
Since they had no children of their own, she came to occupy a place
as close as blood kin.
Likewise, the state and the nation lost an extraordinarily capable
and devoted public servant and humanity is bereft of a benefactress.
Like her employer and his beloved wife, she gave of her time and substance
to The Byrnes Foundation for the education of orphans. She was a trustee
and a principal administrator of the fund which made college possible
for hundreds of young people.
Miss Connor was the perfect secretary and, while she often headed
up a large office staff, she personally handled Mr. Byrnes' most important
correspondence. She was, however, so much more. She joined Mr. Byrnes'
staff as a secretary when he was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1931.
Before long, she was his personal administrative assistant as well,
no matter how many other competent people he had around him.
She was ever at his side during the brilliant and distinguished South
Carolinian's tenure in the Senate, the United States Supreme Court,
as wartime Director of Economic Stabilization, Director of War Mobilization
(when he was usually referred to as the "assistant President"), Secretary of State and Governor of South Carolina.
When Mr. Byrnes left public office at the end of his term as Governor,
she assisted in the expansion and operation of the Foundation. which
was started with the proceeds of his first book, Speaking Frankly.
She assisted with that book and the second, All In One Lifetime,
which also added funds to the Foundation.
She had come to know Mr. Byrnes so well and had so completely won
his confidence after a few years in his service that she could speak
for him without consultation on many matters of importance. With a
few words of instruction she could handle the most delicate and difficult
of matters. She could be, as situations required, the perfect diplomat
and expediter or the polite but sternly unyielding shield against intrusion.
Miss Connor could have made a fine career on her own, for she was
personally competent. She chose instead to make a greater career as
an aide, confidante and beloved friend to both Mr. and Mrs. Byrnes.
She was, however, quite independent and was a successful businesswoman
in her own right. While she shared all but the most private facets
of the life of her employers, she and her late sister had full private
lives of their own.
In her own right, too, she won with her charm and personality the
friendship and affection of the friends of Mr. and Mrs. Byrnes, almost
all of whom she came to know. To them "Miss Cassie," as she
was called, except when Mr. Byrnes referred to her occasionally as "Cassandra," was
a noblewoman and an institution identified with and loved along with
Mr. and Mrs. Byrnes.
We shall never forget her, nor look upon her likes again.