John Belding turned 70 in February. Just a few months before, during Clarendon County Habitat for Humanity’s groundbreaking for its 23rd house off Huggins Street, he handed the reins of the organization to Judge James Dingle.
“I’ve been doing this now for more than a decade,” Belding said. “And it’s time to retire. I believe we have a good board and good leadership.”
Belding has still been helping with the construction of the home, his 13th overall, spending at least one to two Saturdays monthly on the project. Born in Syracuse, New York, Belding was raised in Lockhern, Maryland, just outside of Baltimore, his wife, Leigh Belding, said.
“We knew someone in Clarendon County when we retired,” said Leigh Belding. “We were looking at places in Florida, and on our way back, we stopped to see some people we knew here, and ended up looking at houses and bought one.”
Belding said her husband is a “jester, a shriner and a mason.”
“He was in Summerton Rotary for years and just got finished with being president of the Chamber of Commerce,” she said. “He’s stayed busy the entire time since we moved down here.”
She said that her husband has been “that way” since she’s known him. The couple has been married for 35 years.
“He’s always been like this, constantly doing for others, constantly being involved,” she said. “After we got married, we were both involved where we lived. That’s your home. You want to see great things happen where you live, and you have to make it happen. If you live somewhere, it’s the right thing to help and do things, we’ve always thought. I know a lot of people don’t do it, but if more people did, it would make the world a better place.”
She said the couple has a daughter, Joy, and two grandchildren, Savannah and Chase, all of whom live in Florida.
“We really want to spend more time with them,” Belding said.
Before moving to Clarendon County, John Belding was in law enforcement and was a volunteer fire chief.
“I think he was just ready to get out of that,” said Leigh Belding. “He was a sergeant in Howard County, and he had a lot of guys under his leadership. He had 26 years in, and it was time to get out.”
She said her husband always had a dream of owning a pub or a liquor store.
“He went into a full-partnership with a friend for a liquor store,” Leigh Belding said. “He was in that for two years and had a massive heart attack.”
Still, she said her husband is “in relatively good shape, and hardly ever gets sick.”
“If anybody calls him, he’s over there helping,” she said. “That’s the way he’s always been, just helping people.”