Greenville Mayor Knox White announced a $500,000 donation by Sharon Carlton and Heather Carlton-McInnis for the Unity Park Honor Tower in honor of late community businessman and philanthropist Philip J. Carlton. The Philip J. Carlton Memorial Plaza will serve as a memorial for first responders and military veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice, and as a place of honor for all who serve.
“Phil was a larger-than-life figure in our family and in our community with a passion for supporting law enforcement,” said Heather’s husband, Dr. David McInnis, who spoke on behalf of the Carlton family during the event. “The Carlton family is honored that a lasting part of our community will keep that legacy and memory alive.”
The Philip J. Carlton Memorial Plaza was revealed on Tuesday, March 21, at an event attended by city, state and county officials, Unity Park donors, local law enforcement, first responders and veterans.
“Phil Carlton was an extraordinarily generous man who strongly supported the law enforcement community, felt compelled to ensure they had the equipment they needed to safely do their job, and provided for their families when they didn’t make it home at their end of watch,” said Greenville Police Chief J.H. Thompson.
Born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1920, Carlton was a man with a commitment to succeed and compassion to help others. After serving in the military during World War II, he began a variety of successful business ventures, including a Ford dealership in New York. He later purchased a Mercedes-Benz dealership in Florida in 1974 before moving to Greenville and opening Carlton Motorcars in 1996.
Following the 1996 death of Greenville Police Officer Russ Sorrow while attempting to arrest a suspect, Carlton established the 100 Club of Greater Greenville dedicated to supporting police and firefighters in Greenville, Greer, Mauldin, Simpsonville, Fountain Inn and Travelers Rest and their families.
The Philip J. Carlton Memorial Plaza will be located in front of the Thomas and Vivian A. Wong Honor Tower, scheduled to begin construction this year on the south of the Reedy River, in Unity Park. Like Honor Tower, the Memorial Plaza is entirely funded by private donations and accommodations tax paid by hotel visitors.
“It’s critically important for our first responders to know there are people in the community who care about what they do,” Mayor White said. “For so many years, Phil Carlton was an incredible inspiration to the law enforcement and firefighter community of greater Greenville, and I want to thank the Carlton family for continuing that legacy.”