Stairs Daughter testifies

The Press and Standard/May 17, 2002
By Libby Roerig

Walterboro, SC -- If Ralph Stair is responsible for the allegations brought against him, he should face the necessary legal repercussions, his daughter Brenda Hart says.

"He may or may not have done that," she said. "He is my father, and I love him. If he did that, he deserves to be punished. I will always love him."

Hart encourages people to be forgiving of her father's sins, as she remembers Stair as the man who was her daddy.

"He wasn't always kind, but there were times when he was decent," she said. "We owned our house - it was a three-bedroom house with a big back yard with a plum tree."

One Christmas when Hart was five or six years old, Stair dressed up like Santa Claus for his five children. "It was before mom and dad split up," she said. "He dressed up like Santa and came down from the attic. We didn't believe in Santa Claus - we knew it was my dad. We loved the fantasy part, but we knew it wasn't real." Another time when she was about the same age, Stair's child thought he was angry with her.

"I thought he was mad at me. I was daddy's girl at the time," she said. "I walked over and tapped him on the shoulder. He said, 'Yes sweetie?' I said, 'Can I ask you a question?' He said, 'Yes sweetie.' I said, 'I love you.'" As part of an evening ritual, Stair's youngest two children would climb up in his lap and watch television with him.

"When he wasn't mad, he was okay. He was decent," she said. "I wish there were more good things to say." After her parents split up, things were rough, she said.

"It was like my mom had to start over," Hart said.

Left with three young children (the older two were grown and out on their own), her mother, who had limited education and no particular skills, had to rely on friends. Stair helped out by paying $240 a month in child support.

"We never starved or anything, but Christmas and birthdays were slim," she said. "We never wanted for anything, but we didn't eat like we did when my parents were together."

At one point, they lived in a camper for two years. Despite their humble lodgings, the family was happy. "We were away from him, and I have to be honest, it was the first peaceful time," Hart said.

Each summer, the children would go and visit their father in South Carolina. Oddly enough, he would rarely come and get them himself - a member of the church or Hart's mother usually made the trip. On one occasion, Stair and his second wife picked up the children, Hart said.

While the children were there, they often stayed at the campground on Highway 15, which served as the community's first location. Trips to the grocery store proved to be more like hunting excursions.

"He would put us in the garbage cans and make us get the dented cans of vegetables out," she said. "It wasn't right to waste. He never lived like he was a rich man, but he's not poor."

To see more documents/articles regarding this group/organization/subject click here.