In 1972, one of the heaviest travelled corridors in West Ashley, Highway 7 between US 17 and the North Bridge, was named Sam Rittenberg Boulevard. The bill, passed unanimously by the South Carolina House and Senate, was crafted “as a Memorial to this dedicated Public Servant.” Born in Lithuania in 1867, Rittenberg emigrated to America in 1881. Ten years later he was working in real estate, insurance, and advertising in Charleston. Elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives in 1912, he served two years, then didn’t run again until 1924, when he won the first of four consecutive terms, ending up as chairman of the Charleston County Legislative Delegation and vice-chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. He co-authored the bill establishing the Charleston County Library, and, through the Rittenberg School Act, set the standards for education in the county for decades.
Very much ahead of his time, he worked to abolish capital punishment, introduced legislation to teach the public “kindness and justice to, and humane treatment and protection of birds and animals,” and championed bills to protect our shores. A leader in the Jewish community as well, Rittenberg died in 1932. Fifty years later, a stone memorial on the highway was dedicated in his honor, with descendants and grateful members of the public in attendance.