- The Washington Times - Friday, October 5, 2007

Harry S. Dent, a former White House aide who helped devise the “Southern strategy” that was crucial to President Nixon winning the White House, died Sept. 28 in his native South Carolina after a long struggle with Alzheimer’s disease. He was 77.

Mr. Dent was born in St. Matthews, S.C. He was a graduate of St. Matthews High School, Presbyterian College, George Washington University School of Law, Georgetown University School of Law and Columbia International University. He held honorary doctorates from Charleston Southern University and Presbyterian College.

Mr. Dent served as an infantry officer during the Korean War. He then went to work in Washington as an aide to Sen. Strom Thurmond, South Carolina Republican, for 11 years before serving as an aide to Presidents Nixon, Ford and George H.W. Bush. Mr. Dent started the first White House Prayer Breakfast in 1969.

“Harry Dent set the gold standard for Republicans with his work ethic and his knowledge of politics,” Katon Dawson, chairman of the South Carolina Republican Party, told the State newspaper in Columbia. “He had a vision of where we were going. He was there when it wasn”t popular to be a Republican, when you were ridiculed for being a Republican.”

He was a former chairman of the Republican Party in South Carolina, as well as a practicing lawyer. He was the founder of Laity: Alive and Serving, a ministry that took him across the United States and to many foreign countries.

He was awarded an honorary citizenship from Romania for his work in Cluj, Romania; the Order of the Palmetto from South Carolina Govs. James B. Edwards and David M. Beasley; the Good Shepherd Award from the Boy Scouts of America; and the Salt and Light Award from the Southern Baptist Convention.

He wrote several books, including “The Prodigal South Returns to Power,” “Coverup: The Watergate in All of Us,” “Right Versus Wrong; A Layman Looks Through the Bible for God”s Will” and “Teaching Jack and Jill: Right Versus Wrong in the Homes and Schools.”

Mr. Dent was the first director of the Billy Graham Lay Center in Asheville, N.C., and was chairman of Mr. Graham’s crusades in Columbia, S.C., and Charlotte, N.C. He also served as a trustee of Southern Seminary, Charleston Southern University and as a member of the executive committee of the Southern Baptist Convention. A room in the Manor House at Southeastern Seminary was named for him because of his work in lay ministry. He was a member of First Baptist Church of Columbia.

Mr. Dent was married for 56 years to his high school sweetheart, Betty Francis Dent. Survivors also include two sons, Harry S. Dent Jr. of Tampa, Fla., and Jack Dent of Alpharetta, Ga.; two daughters, Dolly Montgomery of Chapin, S.C., and Ginny Brant of Seneca, S.C.; and nine grandchildren. Two of his brothers, H.N. Dent and Jack Dent, were killed in World War II; two other brothers, Bobby Dent and Billy Dent, also are deceased.

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