Last modified on November 16, 2021, at 14:35

Alfred Bethea

Alfred William "Red" Bethea

United States Army photo

State Representative for South Carolina
In office
January 10, 1961 – 1966

Born June 20, 1916
Dillon, South Carolina
Died September 13, 1999 (aged 83)
Resting place Dothan Methodist Church Cemetery in Dillon County
Political party Democrat-turned-American Independent (1970)
Spouse(s) JoAnne Dellinger Bethea
Children Kitty, Buddy, Shannon, Lesa, Cammie, and Fitzhugh

Fitzhugh Lee and Bonnie Keen Bethea

Residence Dillon, South Carolina
Alma mater Clemson University

Colorado State University

Occupation Farmer
Religion United Methodist

Military Service
Service/branch United States Army Air Corps
Rank Lieutenant colonel
Battles/wars North African Theater of Operations

European Theater of Operations of World War II

Alfred William Bethea, also known as Red Bethea (June 20, 1916 – September 13, 1999), was a farmer from Dillon County in eastern South Carolina who served as a Democrat state legislator from 1961 to 1966. In 1970, he left his party to run unsuccessfully as the gubernatorial nominee of George Wallace's former American Independent Party.


A son of Fitzhugh Lee Bethea (1889–1971)[1] and the former Bonnie Keen (1888-1938), Bethea received a Bachelor of Science degree in 1938 from Clemson University in Clemson in northwestern South Carolina. He served as a Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Army Air Corps in the North African and European theaters of operations during World War II. He earned a Master of Science degree from Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado, then known as Colorado A&M. Bethea was an active member the Veterans of Foreign Wars. From 1959 to 1960, he was a member of the United States Chamber of Commerce. He served as well on the Dillon County Farm Bureau. He was a lifetime member of the booster group called IPTAY ("I Pay Ten a Year") to support Clemson athletics. He was a member of Rotary International and the Main Street and Dothan United Methodist Church at 401 E Main St. in Dillon.[2]

Bethea and his wife, the former JoAnne Dellinger (1928-2008), daughter of Lester E. and Saidee Blanchard Dellinger, had six children, Kitty, Buddy, Shannon, Lesa, Cammie, and Fitzhugh Bethea.[1]

Gubernatorial race

In 1968, Bethea supported former Governor George Wallace for U.S. President in the three-way campaign against Republican Richard M. Nixon and Democrat Hubert Humphrey, the outgoing vice president, who sought to succeed President Lyndon B. Johnson. Whereas Wallace returned to the Democratic Party to run against Albert Preston Brewer (1928-2017) for governor in 1970, Bethea became the standard-bearer of Wallace's former American Independent Party in his own run for governor against the Democrat John C. West, the departing lieutenant governor, and the Republican choice, outgoing U.S. Representative Albert William Watson (1922-1994) of South Carolina's 2nd congressional district. Bethea claimed that Wallace was sympathetic to Bethea's campaign, but with his own race in Alabama Wallace took no part in the South Carolina campaign.[3]

Frank B. Best, Sr., of Orangeburg, the 1968 Wallace campaign manager in South Carolina, endorsed Watson, on the basis of the congressman's conservative record, rather than the victorious West, who had backed Humphrey in the previous presidential race. West had called Humphrey "a real friend of the South though he has had no credit for it."[4] Other Wallace leaders backed the Democrat West, who led in ten of the twelve counties that Wallace had carried in 1968.[5] Bethea finished the race with 9,758 (2 percent), a margin too small to have denied victory to Watson. West prevailed with 251,151 (52.1 percent); Watson trailed with 221,236 (45.9 percent).[6]

Bethea died at the age of eighty-three. He is interred with other family members at the Dothan Methodist Church Cemetery in Dillon County.[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Dothan Methodist Church Cemetery. Retrieved on May 2, 2014.
  2. Alfred W. "Red" Bethea (information taken from gravestone). Retrieved on August 31, 2021.
  3. Billy Hathorn, "The Changing Politics of Race: Congressman Albert William Watson and the South Carolina Republican Party, 1965-1970," South Carolina Historical Magazine Vol. 89 (October 1988), p. 233.
  4. Florence Morning News and Charlotte Observer, October 12, 1970; The State of Columbia, April 1, 1968, October 10, 1970; Columbia Record, October 13, 1970.
  5. South Carolina Election Commission, 1968 and 1970 election returns; Columbia State, November 11, 1970.
  6. South Carolina Election Commission, 1970 general election returns