Columbia recently lost a well-known local figure when Joseph “Joe” Azar passed away in September after a battle with cancer. A native of the Capital City, he was widely known for his long-running and successful store, Upstairs Audio and Video, and for his interest in improving his community. He was a supporter of the development and growth of the Five Points area, where his store has been located for many years. Drawn to public service, he also ran for mayor multiple times, and was in the race for city council in several different election years. He campaigned on such ideas as consolidating city and county services, supporting local businesses and attracting new industry, and developing Columbia’s “cultural, artistic, recreational and educational assets”.
In addition to his political involvement, Azar worked to establish the Rolling Readers of the Midlands, a program for children’s literacy, volunteered in the community, and was active in fraternal and service organizations such as the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA) and the Sertoma Club. It was fitting that, after word of his passing spread, the Columbia City Council observed a moment of silence in his memory at one of their meetings.
Shortly following Mr. Azar’s memorial service, SCPC connected with friends of his who had put together a small collection of campaign materials, memorabilia, and photographs which had been displayed at the service. These items are now here in our holdings. Many thanks to those who made it possible for us to have some materials documenting Mr. Azar’s life and service as a local activist and an advocate of bettering his community.