Frank Tourville leaves legacy of philanthropy and service

March 24, 2021
Frank and Pearl Tourville. He has his arm around her shoulder.
Frank Tourville and his wife, Pearl. Photo by Anne Thompson

South Carolina has lost an astute business leader, generous philanthropist and beloved family man. Zeus Industrial Products founder Frank Paul Tourville Sr. died peacefully on March 16 in his adopted hometown of Orangeburg, South Carolina, surrounded by loved ones. He was 87. His funeral was held on March 20.

Longtime friend and supporter of MUSC, Mr. Tourville was well-known to and respected by the MUSC family. After nearly 20 years of support and a prominent building that carries not only the Tourville name but a history of compassion and caring, his legacy lives on at MUSC through the many pioneering projects with which he was involved. An early leader in the MUSC campaign to build a new state-of-the-art children’s and women’s hospital, he named the Pearl Tourville Women’s Pavilion in honor of his wife, to whom he was married for 63 years.

President David J. Cole, M.D., FACS, and first lady, Kathy Cole, were extremely saddened to receive the news of Frank Tourville’s passing. They had built a special friendship over the years, and the Coles felt particularly fortunate to have visited with him just days before his death.

"Frank was one of the most inspirational individuals that I've had the privilege of knowing personally; he was dedicated to his family, his community, and South Carolina in ways that many only aspire to during their lifetimes," Dr. Cole said. "Frank and his family have made a significant positive impact for thousands of patients because of their generous philanthropy to MUSC through the years, which wouldn't surprise those who knew him well. In fact, the last time I saw Frank and asked him what I could do for him, his only thought was for the support and help of others. He's the kind of man who comes along once in a generation, and his loss is felt deeply by me, Kathy and the entire MUSC family."

Frank and Pearl Tourville stand holding shovels with other people, including MUSC President David Cole and Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg, at a groundbreaking ceremony for the MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children's Hospital and Pearl Tourville Women's Pavilion. 
Frank Tourville, standing between his wife Pearl and Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg, holds a symbolic shovel at a groundbreaking ceremony for the MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children's Hospital and Pearl Tourville Women's Pavilion. Photo by Anne Thompson

During his leadership at the helm of MUSC, the late President and former S.C. Gov. James B. Edwards, D.M.D., also shared a warm friendship with Frank Tourville through the decades, holding him in the highest esteem. Dr. Edwards was delighted, on behalf of then-Gov. Mark Sanford, to have presented him with the Order of the Palmetto, the state's highest civilian honor awarded to a South Carolina citizen for extraordinary lifetime service and achievements of national or statewide significance. Dr. Edwards later shared Mr. Tourville’s many noteworthy accomplishments with the MUSC Board of Trustees.

“I would like very much to recognize Mr. Tourville’s service and support of MUSC, his professional achievements and his lifetime of service toward the betterment of his community, state, nation and mankind in general. He has been an especially generous supporter of better health through science. As an example, he provided the Medical University of South Carolina with the financial resources needed to endow a distinguished chair in clinical cardiology and establish an entire center devoted to discovering the causes and therapies for cardiac arrhythmias. Throughout all of these endeavors, and many more, Frank Tourville has demonstrated a spirit of leadership, service and humility that we strive to instill in each of our students here.”

A formidable visionary until his final days, Mr. Tourville continued to demonstrate his keen understanding of health care priorities, donating half a million dollars to fund the research and development of serologic testing for COVID-19. In their nearly 20 years of support, Frank and Pearl Tourville donated almost $15 million to important MUSC programs. In addition to the serologic testing and Women’s Pavilion, they created the Frank P. Tourville Sr. Arrhythmia Center of Excellence and the Frank P. Tourville Sr. Endowed Chair of Clinical Cardiology and were generous supporters of the Ben Marino Heart Award, the LOWVELO bike ride to fund cancer research and the Dr. James B. Edwards Nursing Scholarship.

Nationally, Frank Tourville was highly regarded for his vision and ingenuity in the polymer extrusion industry, having developed many revolutionary solutions that would benefit many sectors. His leadership and these contributions were respected from the South Carolina Statehouse to the U.S. Capitol.

“Peggy and I are saddened to learn of Mr. Tourville's passing," said Gov. Henry McMaster. “His impact on South Carolina and her people – through his selfless service to his community and his entrepreneurial spirit – will be felt for generations.”

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham knew well the profound impact that Frank Tourville had on South Carolina. “I was very sad to hear of the passing of my good friend Frank Tourville. Mr. Tourville made a huge positive impact on the Orangeburg community and South Carolina as a whole,” he said. “He was an absolute delight to be around and one of the most generous people I have ever known. Mr. Tourville worked incredibly hard to bring his local community together, and his holiday parties were always a highlight of the year.” 

The senator added, “I know his legacy will carry on through the many great works he was involved with, as well as his company, Zeus Industrial Products. My thoughts and prayers are with his wonderful family and legion of friends. He touched so many lives and will be greatly missed.”

Mr. Tourville, according to the late Dr. James B. Edwards, demonstrated an uncommon commitment to his community and higher education in South Carolina, giving generously of his time, leadership and financial resources to help Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College, Claflin University and South Carolina State University to create more opportunities for the students and communities they serve. For these efforts, he received special recognition for outstanding community service at a Martin Luther King Unity event held at Claflin.

But of all his accomplishments, friends will tell you that nothing was as important to him as his family, whom he treasured. He and Pearl had four sons, 12 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren. A devout member of Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Orangeburg, faith was an important pillar in his life.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be made to MUSC and the American Heart Association.

About the Author

Mikie Hayes