A lightning bolt

The concept seemed so simple, recalls Noble, who once played football at Presbyterian College.

It struck him like “a thunder clap.” He was at the office of his political consulting firm in Washington.

Why not mix the creative geniuses of South Carolinians who, by their drives to excel, had risen to the top? The creme de la creme. The, hey-I’ve-got-this-great-idea kind of people.

Folks like William Webster IV of Greenville, owner of 30-plus Bojangles franchises in the state. Virgil Summer of Columbia, chairman of the board emeritus of South Carolina Electric & Gas. Bishop F.C. James of Columbia, presiding bishop of the AME Church. Gen. James A. Grimsley, president of The Citadel. Esther Ferguson of Secessionville, founder and chairman of the National Dropout Prevention Fund. And dozens of other leaders willing to be “entrepreneurs in community service.”

Democrats and Republics. Blacks and whites.

“I’m convinced,” Noble says, “that there’s not a single problem not being solved by somebody somewhere successfully. I simply serve as a catalyst for the catalysts. I get them together and let them run loose with their ideas. They’re people with the clout and resources to get things done.”