Ellison S. McKissick, Jr. | Legacy of Leadership Profile

Ellison S. McKissick, Jr. 

(1928 – 1998)

Ellison S. McKissick, Jr., was only 27 years old when he became president of Alice Manufacturing Company of Easley. For nearly 50 years, his enlightened management philosophy and passionate pursuit of product superiority made Alice one of South Carolina's most successful family-owned businesses.

Dedicated to excellence in the production of a wide variety of fabrics, Alice remains a major supplier to national companies in the business of producing quality finished textile products.    

McKissick never considered a career outside of textiles. His family has been a force in the industry for more than a century. In 1923, McKissick's father, E. S. McKissick, and grandfather, A. Foster McKissick, bought Alice Mill in Easley, a plant built in 1910.

They doubled the plant's size in 1926, and four additional plants were built: Arial in 1928, Elljean in 1953, and, after McKissick became president, Foster in 1959 and Ellison in 1966. The Alice plant was eventually phased out, and the company operates from its four newest facilities.    

Ellison Smyth McKissick, Jr., was born July 29, 1928, in Greenville, the youngest of four children of Ellison Smyth and Jean Louise Reamsbottom McKissick of Atherley, Ontario, Canada.

He grew up with sisters Mary McLean and Margaret Smyth and a brother, Anthony Foster. Family and friends always referred to him as "Bubby," a childhood nickname he himself used in introductions.    

Bubby McKissick attended the public schools of Greenville and Woodberry Preparatory School at Orange, Virginia, graduating from Greenville High School. He was further educated at Clemson University and Presbyterian College.

He did odd jobs at the family mills before he was old enough to work inside and began his formal textile career in 1947 as an hourly worker. For two years, he worked on all shifts in the mill's carding, spinning, and weaving departments.    

In 1950, when the Korean War began, he and his brother enlisted in the Marine Corps. They were together at Parris Island in South Carolina and Camp LeJeune in North Carolina, and in 1952, they were sent to Korea, where both were involved in combat along the 38th Parallel.

Bubby McKissick was wounded in action and spent two months in a hospital in Japan. He was awarded the Purple Heart and the United Nations Service Medal.

The brothers completed their military service in 1953 and returned to Alice Manufacturing Company. While Foster's entrepreneurial spirit led him into other business ventures, Bubby McKissick was at home in textile manufacturing.    

He was elected company treasurer in 1953 and was named president in 1955. His father continued as chairman of the board until his death January 31, 1966. Bubby McKissick became chairman in 1988, and that same year, his son, E. Smyth McKissick III, became president.

During his more than 50 years in the textile business, Bubby McKissick was a dedicated textile industry spokesman. He, his father, and his great-grandfather, Captain Ellison Smyth, served as president of the American Textile Manufacturers Institute or its predecessor organization, the American Cotton Manufacturers Association.    

As ATMI president, McKissick was chief spokesman for the American textile industry, which, at the time, employed more than 700,000 people in 48 states.

He was named the 1987 Textile Man of the Year by the New York Board of Trade in recognition of his distinguished service to the textile industry.

McKissick was a trustee of the Institute of Textile Technology in Charlottesville, Virginia, and was a former president of the South Carolina Textile Manufacturers Association.

He served as chairman and president of the J. E. Sirrine Textile Foundation and was a member of the board of the Textile Hall Corporation in Greenville.    

McKissick was a director of the Citizens & Southern National Bank of South Carolina and chairman and trustee of the Greenville Hospital System and a member of the Greenville Hospital System Foundation board. He also was a member of the University of South Carolina Business Partnership Foundation board.    

McKissick was a trustee of Presbyterian College and in 1980 received Presbyterian College's Alumni Gold P Award for outstanding achievements. He also served as a member of the Clemson University Board of Visitors.

McKissick was a founder of Tri-County Technical College and a member of its first board of trustees. In 1997, the Tri-County Technical College Foundation named him its Philanthropist of the Year. 

In 1986, the University of South Carolina awarded him an honorary doctoral degree, and in 1987, he was named to the Easley Hall of Fame. The South Carolina Chamber of Commerce honored him as its Businessman of the Year in 1988, and Governor David M. Beasley awarded him the Order of the Palmetto in 1996.

Bubby McKissick and Noel Caroline Parker of Greenville were married February 19, 1955, in Christ Church Episcopal in Greenville. They were the parents of three children, Noel Caroline (Mrs. James M. Reber), Ellison Smyth, III, and Elizabeth Parker (Mrs. Robert B. FauntLeRoy), and the grandparents of seven.    

The McKissicks worshipped at Christ Church, where Bubby McKissick served on the vestry and finance committee. He also served as chairman of the Christ Church Episcopal School Board of Trustees and was chairman of the board of visitors of Christ Church Episcopal School.

McKissick died June 27, 1998.    

He was inducted into the South Carolina Business Hall of Fame in 1998.    

© 1999 South Carolina Business Hall of Fame

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