James B. Edwards, 87, South Carolina's first Republican governor since Reconstruction and later energy secretary for two years in the Reagan administration, died Friday, his son-in-law, Ken Wingate, confirmed.

The oral surgeon served in the state Senate and helped build the modern Republican Party in South Carolina before becoming governor in 1974.

Mr. Edwards was limited to one term under state law at the time. After leaving the governor's mansion, he headed to Washington as President Ronald Reagan's energy secretary.

Mr. Edwards returned to his home state in 1982 to become president of the Medical University of South Carolina, a position he held for 17 years before retiring.

"God has blessed me with the ability to pick good people," Mr. Edwards said. "I choose good people, and then I'm smart enough to stay out of the way and let them do their jobs well." - AP