Grand Strand hospitality officials pray for missing lobbyist

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) A large network of tourism and hospitality officials in the Grand Strand are coming together to offer prayers and help get answers for the family of a missing lobbyist.

Tom Sponseller, 61, of Columbia, went missing Saturday night after his family said he didn't come home from a typical weekend trip to the office.

Sponseller is the president and CEO of South Carolina's Hospitality Association. Friends in the Myrtle Beach area say he's been a champion for the hospitality and tourism industry at the beach and statewide.

Myrtle Beach Hospitality Association President and CEO Stephen Greene and member Mary Henry, along with others, are helping Sponseller's family find him. They're turning to the Internet and social media like Facebook to get his name and picture out in the open.

Henry said the spookiest thing about his disappearance is how recently she'd seen him.

"He was just down here a couple of weeks ago when we had the Hotel, Motel, Restaurant and Trade Show and the hospitality association local and state had a booth," said Henry.

Friends call Tom a family-man who is always connected. They say just disappearing is out of character.

"He's a strong family guy with a strong commitment to his job at the South Carolina Hospitality Association, the community and the industry as a whole. He's always in communication with everyone," said Greene.

Columbia police say they're investigating Sponseller's disappearance fully, but searches of his car and workplace haven't turned up any leads. Police found his black Mercedes in a garage near his downtown office building.

Sponseller's Myrtle Beach friends are hoping for the best, despite having more questions than answers.

"We all hope and wish for the best and our prayers are going out to the family. We just want him home and safe," said Henry.

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