With roots to Anderson University dating back more than 100 years, Bill Brissey’s legacy is continuing with the Brissey Family endowed scholarship
Out of his love for Anderson University and a longstanding commitment to helping young men and women access educational opportunities, Bill Brissey established the Bill and Grace Brissey Endowed Scholarship in honor of his family and his late wife, who was his strength.
“Grace probably had more talent than anybody I’ve ever known and she had more confidence,” he said.
Grace was also known for her business acumen, having been involved in the operations of the Brisseys’ business interests, which included local radio stations in Anderson, Belton and Abbeville. She was also a pioneering female developer in the Upstate and worked in Sen. Strom Thurmond’s office.
Looking back on his wife’s building career, Brissey recalled a conversation at their dinner table one night when she said she wanted to build houses on some property they owned in Belton. She reasoned that since her father was in the brick business, she had been around builders and figured she was a good organizer.
“I never thought about that but that’s all a builder does, is organize the subs (subcontractors), get good subs and make sure they’re on time,” he said. When she became a licensed builder, he bought her a pickup truck and a pair of overalls.
Buying and selling property convinced Bill Brissey to focus on real estate full time. The business he built was successful from the start–and continues to thrive. Out of their financial blessings came the desire for the Brisseys to help as many Anderson University students as they could. In 2012 they set up an endowed scholarship, awarded on the basis of financial need and academic promise.
Brissey’s upbringing helped him understand the importance of giving students every opportunity to succeed.
“Well, first of all, I was helped a lot,” he said. “I think when you give, you receive also. I grew up poor. We lived in a small house with five kids. People helped us all the way through.”
Among those who made an impact on Brissey as a youth were Bob Burriss, his scoutmaster, and Frog Reames, the principal of Anderson Boys High School, who encouraged him to pursue a college education.
Brissey grew up around football, earning a scholarship to play at Newberry College. Before building his successful real estate business in Anderson, Brissey coached football for many years in the Midlands and Upstate regions of South Carolina, including locally at Belton High School. While he has coached many young men over the years, he really cares more about the development of a young person and supports educational opportunities through the endowed scholarship and other means.
His Anderson University roots run deep. His great uncle, Will Brissey, was among the founding board members when Anderson was established in 1911. And, growing up very close to the Anderson University campus, Brissey has fond memories dating back to the days when Dr. Annie Dove Denmark was president. He recalls how Dr. Denmark was very protective of female students, keeping a watchful eye on young men who were courting the young ladies.
Always active in community life, Brissey is also well-known for being a long-time president of the Anderson Touchdown Club. That said, he’s excited about college football coming to Anderson and invited Trojans Head Football Coach Bobby Lamb to address the Touchdown Club in the fall of 2021.