MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) – A memorial service was held in Myrtle Beach Friday morning for a long-time community and civil rights activist.
Bennie Swans, 70, died on Sept. 19 after a battle with a lengthy illness.
Swans, the former chair of the Horry County Democratic Party, was the driving force behind the annual Martin Luther King Freedom Rally events and parade in Myrtle Beach.
“Fired up! Ready to go! That was Bennie," friend Kelvin Perkins said following the service.
Perkins played the music on Friday at the memorial and events surrounding the MLK Day celebrations and was asked to play again at the memorial.
“Bennie he was just an awesome guy. Over the years we developed a close friendship with him," Kelvin and his wife Monique Perkins said.
Myrtle Beach Mayor Brenda Bethune honored Bennie’s service to the community as well and presented his family with an award thanking them for his hard work.
Other community leaders also spoke, describing him as someone who loved people and diversity.
Swans was also honored for his time in the military. He served in the Vietnam War and had been awarded a purple heart.
Speakers also talked about keeping his legacy alive by continuing the work he did and always keeping what’s best for the community in mind.
And for the Perkins, they said remembering Bennie is just the start.
“He’s an icon in the community and he’s gonna be surely missed but we want to preserve the legacy but not only preserve we want to further, we want to move on, and take it to the next level so we can and we want to make sure that we can see Bennie smiling down on us and saying, hey, I’m happy," Perkins said.
After the memorial at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center, a burial was held with full military honors at the Florence National Cemetery.