A picture is worth a thousand words, but far more than that would be needed to fully describe the life of local painter and philanthropist Harry Love.
On Thursday, the Grand Strand lost the 92-year-old Myrtle Beach man known publicly as one who was instrumental in the arts community in Myrtle Beach.
“It was a great honor knowing him,” said Joyce Harris, who, along with her husband, has been friends with Love and his wife Sylvia since the mid-1980s. “He was very special. We have sustained a great loss in our community. They really don’t build Harry Loves anymore.”
Chosen as Myrtle Beach’s Volunteer of the Year in 2003 and named one of Horry County’s Citizens of the Century last century, Love’s impact was felt far beyond supporting the arts and crafting the paintings he was known for locally.
Born in 1921 in Binghamton, N.Y., Love took odds-and-ends jobs until America went to war during World War II. He flew B-24 and B-29 bombers in the mid 1940s before being honorably discharged from the military, which is when he worked as a reporter in Durham, N.C., and Albany, N.Y. He received his bachelor’s degree from Duke University, where he graduated cum laude, and went on to earn his Juris Doctorate in 1952 at Albany Law at Union University in New York.
Love served as vice president for government relations at New York Telephone for nearly three decades before spending much of the first part of the 1980s as counsel for then-New York state Sen. Mary Goodhue and the Senate Committee on Child Care.
He and his wife had owned a summer home in Myrtle Beach since the early 1970s. When he retired in 1986, the two decided to move here permanently, lured by the beach and golf courses.
The avid golfer, who scored two holes in one in his lifetime, had a passion for oil painting and, eventually, for watercolors. His passion would lead to his involvement in the American Society of Portrait Artists, Waccamaw Arts & Crafts Guild, the S.C. Watercolor Society and eventually as S.C. Arts Commissioner.
Locally, he was the chairman of the Franklin G. Burroughs-Simeon D. Chapin Art Museum, chairman of the Myrtle Beach Cultural Arts Committee, and co-chairman of the First Presbyterian Church Pledge Fund in the late 1990s.
Love’s portrait of the old Pavilion was chosen by Burroughs & Chapin to mark the landmark’s final year in 2006. He also was a driving force in renovating the Rivoli Theatre in downtown Myrtle Beach.
“He was one of the leaders in the arts community,” said Mayor John Rhodes. “He was one of the people instrumental in pushing for the performing arts center. That was a dream of his. He will be missed. There’s no question about it.”
Love also was co-chair of the Carousel Horses on Parade Fundraiser. Love would take his passion for painting and donate canvasses to charities to be auctioned off, and allow the charities to keep the proceeds.
“He not only loved to promote and support the arts, he was a wonderful artist,” Harris said. “He did so many pieces. Pine Lakes Country Club was one of his favorite places to paint. He loved to paint children’s portraits and people’s pets. He was a very active artist.”
Aside from law, the arts and golf, Love enjoyed going places and staying in shape, Harris said.
“He loved to travel. He went around the world twice, once around the northern hemisphere and once around the southern hemisphere,” she said. “He loved to work out. He loved to run and exercise. In fact, before he came to Brightwater [Independent Senior Living Retirement Community] he was still at the gym three days a week. He was on the treadmill and on weights. He was doing that until he was about 84 or 85. He liked to be fit.”
Love will be remembered as a man far beyond the work of any of his paintings.
“He was very intelligent; well-versed in world events and local events,” Harris said. “He was very interested in the world around us. He liked to debate. He liked politics.
“I think that he always hoped that he would be remembered for promoting and supporting the arts, but that’s not why he did it. He did it because he thought that was the thing to be doing.”
Painting a memory
B.J. Thomas, a co-founder of the Long Bay Symphony and a past president and current member of its board of directors, has a painting for which Harry Love helped add some color, but not on that canvas.
“When I think of him,” Thomas said, “the first thing I think of is, what a gentleman.”
Recalling one of Love’s acts of kindness, she described a day she had wanted to shop at an art show at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center. She walked in just after its closing time, enraptured by a watercolor work by another artist.
“I fell in love with the painting,” Thomas said, recalling when she saw Love standing in front of it, then upon asking if she could purchase it, he said, “B.J., my wife just bought it.”
Answering a phone call the next morning, Thomas encountered Love again.
“He said, ‘My wife saw the look on your face as you were reviewing that painting,’ ” Thomas recalled, still moved by how the Loves gave her the piece.
“That painting is hanging in my house right now,” Thomas said. “Every time I walk by it, I think of Harry Love. ... Every time I see it, I think of how that was a sweet man, and it was true.”
McMillan-Small Funeral Home and Crematory in Myrtle Beach is in charge of arrangements.
Staff writer Steve Palisin contributed to this report.
Contact JASON M. RODRIGUEZ at 626-0301.