Larry William Abernathy was a 1969 graduate of Clemson University, and a visiting assistant professor in Clemson's Eugene T. Moore School of Education, who served as Mayor of Clemson, South Carolina, from 1984 until his death at age 64, on February 11, 2012.
"After a stint as executive director of the Oconee Alcohol and Drug Abuse Commission, he served for 23 years as the treatment director of a newly combined Anderson-Oconee Alcohol and Drug Abuse Commission (now Behavioral Health Services). With 30 years in the state system — and tired of the paperwork that too often pulled him away from direct treatment — he retired in 2001." (Reference: Beck, Evelyn, "Trauma made him stronger: Clemson mayor Larry Abernathy recounts difficult year", Anderson Independent-Mail, 5 August 2007.)
His university profile lists the following as his research interests: Addictions, Family Systems, Assessment, Diagnostics, Communication Skills, Hypnotherapy, and Psychopathology and the DSM-IV.
Abernathy first won election as the Mayor of Clemson in 1982, a post he would maintain until his death. " During his tenure, the mayor has overseen the tripling of the city/university population to 30,000, yet he boasts that Clemson still retains its village atmosphere," stated an August 2007 article in the Anderson (S.C.) Independent-Mail. He saw the establishment of the CAT Bus system during his tenure on the Clemson city government, which, once referred to as "Abernathy's Folly", has grown into the largest fare-free bus line in the United States.
He also oversaw the beautification program in the City of Clemson, which is still underway, to unify the local community with that of the campus of Clemson University, a town-gown relationship with roots in the fact that Abernathy and current Clemson President Jim Barker were freshmen together. In a joint proclamation, they stated that "NOW, THEREFORE, WE, James F. Barker, President of Clemson University, and Larry W. Abernathy, Mayor of the City of Clemson, do hereby proclaim on this date of August 21, 2006 that Clemson University and the City of Clemson will be a litter-free campus and community."
Abernathy actively fought to keep Wal-Mart out of the city, citing the detriment of big-box superstores on local merchants. Ultimately, that commercial chain established a location on the edge of Central, South Carolina, instead.
 Personal life
Mayor Abernathy suffered health issues in later life, first losing a lower leg to amputation in order arrest a life-threatening infection caused by a foot blister, and he later endured the complications of diabetes. He bore it in stride, saying in an article, "The surgery made me a better person. In the middle of the night in intensive care, there’s a lot of time to think, to sort out who are you are and what you’ve done. I liked what I learned." (Beck, 2007.)
Abernathy was married to his college sweetheart, Jo, and they have a daughter, Dana.
Due to complications from diabetes, Abernathy went to Greenville Memorial Hospital, for care in February 2012. He had fallen on Monday and broken his arm. Before he could receive the planned course of treatment, his condition worsened and he died in early afternoon on February 11, 2012.
The Clemson Joint City/University Advisory Board presents the Abernathy/Cox One Clemson Awards, given annually to an organization or individual whose accomplishments have served both Clemson University and the city of Clemson and have had a significant influence on both in a single year. It is named for Mayor Abernathy and long-time Clemson Dean and President Emeritus Walter T. Cox.
Honorary Brother of Alpha Sigma Phi Fraternity
- This is the Clemson Wiki project's 1,677th article.
- Beck, Evelyn, "Trauma made him stronger: Clemson mayor Larry Abernathy recounts difficult year", Anderson Independent-Mail, Anderson, South Carolina, 5 August 2007. http://www.independentmail.com/news/2007/aug/05/trauma-made-him-stronger-clemson-mayor-larry-abern/
- Clemson Alumni Association, "Clemson Alumni: Today 2008", Harris Connect, Inc., Chesapeake, Virginia, 2007, no ISBN , page 255.
- Faculty profile, Eugene T. Moore School of Education, Clemson University. http://www.clemson.edu/hehd/departments/education/faculty-staff/profile.html?userid=alarry
- Solid Green Proclamation. http://www.clemson.edu/administration/public-affairs/solidgreen/proclamation.html