The History of the PLTA
In early 1965, Don B. Nichols, then Vice President of ALTA, came to the Carolinas calling on Title Insurance Companies trying to generate interest in a trade organization. The challenge was taken by a group of attorneys that included Bruce Boney, Dave Mellichamp, Jack Donnell, Archie Walker, Jack Martin and Joseph Roof who met at Pinehurst, NC in April of 1966 and because of their insight to realize there is strength in numbers the Carolinas Land Title Association was born.
The first president of the CLTA was Bruce Boney. There were a total of eleven more presidents, two being from South Carolina, David S. Mellichamp 1967-1968 and Joseph Roof 1971-1972. But just like in 1861 the North and South had different ways of doing business and could not see eye to eye. At the CLTA convention held in Wrightsville Beach in 1977, South Carolina petitioned for secession from the CLTA. On September 26, 1977 both sides sat down and drew up a resolution to split their union into separate states. On November 28, 1977 the South Carolina Secretary of State, O. Frank Thornton, signed the necessary papers and the PALMETTO LAND TITLE ASSOCIATION was born.
The significance of this split was major, as Ernest "Chip" Stanley put it in his secession letter "Because the CTLA has been generally more concerned with the problems in North Carolina, a local land title association has been planned for South Carolina". The original "need to split" idea was the brain work of King Holmes, Roger Dinnin and Chip Stanley who met at the Wade Hampton Hotel in Columbia to get things started. Mike Britt joined the group before the concept was approved and before the By-Laws were drafted Jack Martin and Jerry Hemphill were consulted. Lawyers Title, Chicago Title, and South Carolina Title were the original sponsors joined by Minnesota Title and Pioneer Title before inception. The original name, which was endorsed by Mr. Chuck Davis then current president of the CLTA, was South Carolina Land Title Association but Roger Dinnin recommended shortening it to the present Palmetto Land Title Association.. This was definitely a local association as all the charter members were from Columbia.
Messrs. Britt, Stanley, and Martin were joined by Larnville Mengedoht as the charter officers and served until the first annual convention held October 27, 1978 at Palmetto Dunes Hyatt on Hilton Head. At the inaugural convention attended by 84 members and spouses, Carroll Pitts, King Holmes, and Henry Fishburne joined Chip Stanley as the first elected slate of PLTA officers. Pitts from Rock Hill and Fishburne from Charleston added to the Columbians gave the PLTA a statewide flavor. From 1978 thru 1984 the annual convention was held at a beach site in the fall. In 1986 it was moved to the spring due mainly to the difficulty in finding suitable sites for the event. In 1997, the Spring Convention was held in Savannah, Georgia. This marked the first "out of State convention for the association.
In 1980 an annual award was established honoring the late J. Lee McDonald. This award recognizes an individual for their exemplary contribution of service to the association.
Since its inception the PLTA has been a champion of education for its members and in April 1989 the David S. Mellichamp Furman Scholarship Fund was established honoring the late Mr. Mellichamp. The scholarship is awarded annually to a full time Furman University student, of high standing, preferably majoring in political science or economic business. At the same time, the David S. Mellichamp Fund was established to award scholarships to students from other educational institutions in South Carolina. In March 1997, this scholarship was renamed the Palmetto Land Title Association Scholarship.