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The best of Bob Sofaly: 2016

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Photo above: Beaufort Water Festival bed racers get a face full of water from an unidentified assailant during the annual Water Festival Bed Races.

Photographs are often called the window to the soul. Being able to capture a range of emotions, environments and events takes patience and timing and knowledge about the community — skills longtime photojournalist Bob Sofaly has perfected.

After graduating from the University of South Carolina College of Journalism in 1980, Sofaly went to work at The Beaufort Gazette until his retirement as photo editor in 2011.

Sofaly has received local, state and regional awards in photography during his 36-plus years as a photojournalist in Beaufort.

“I didn’t think there was that much news to cover in Beaufort,” Sofaly said of the early days. “The first year I took second and third place and an honorable mention in the ‘spot news’ category from the S.C. Press Association.”

Shortly after leaving the Gazette he began working for The Island News as a contract photographer and won three more awards with the SCPA.

Sofaly’s more notable awards include Photo of the Year in 1999 from the SCPA and three separate Mark Twain awards for spot news coverage from the Associated Press.

Since those early days, Sofaly has won nearly 30 awards for his news, sports and feature photography.

Sofaly and his wife of 40 years, Sheila, have lived in Shell Point for more than 33 years.

“I don’t see us leaving anytime soon,” he said.

Here is a look at some of Sofaly’s best photos for The Island News from 2016.

An unidentified boy pushes his toy truck near one of the groins along the beach at Hunting Island State Park. The park suffered major damage recently from Hurricane Matthew.
An unidentified boy pushes his toy truck near one of the groins along the beach at Hunting Island State Park. The park suffered major damage recently from Hurricane Matthew.
Three boys have some fun with a ball during the summer in the pool of Charles “Lynd” Brown Community Activity Center.
Three boys have some fun with a ball during the summer in the pool of Charles “Lynd” Brown Community Activity Center.
A Toyota truck slugs its way through the mud pit during the Yemassee Mud Run in May.
A Toyota truck slugs its way through the mud pit during the Yemassee Mud Run in May.
Johanna Roberts holds her 19-month-old daughter Marleigh Beam during the Wreaths Across America at Beaufort National Cemetery.
Johanna Roberts holds her 19-month-old daughter Marleigh Beam during the Wreaths Across America at Beaufort National Cemetery.
Battery Creek and Bishop England girl’s soccer players battle for control of the ball.
Battery Creek and Bishop England girl’s soccer players battle for control of the ball.

Oh, the places paddling can take you

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Photo above: Maureen Conroy is a breast cancer survivor and will be competing in DragonBoat Beaufort races on Saturday, Sept. 3. Here, she is surrounded by her family, from bottom left, grandchildren, Ellie, Addy, Margaret, James, Devon and Eimile, husband Dennis, Maureen, and children Meghan, AJ, Moira and Rick.

By Kat Walsh

In January of 2014, Maureen Conroy was sifting through her mail when South Carolina Living, a free monthly magazine from Palmetto Electric Cooperative that usually got a passing glance, caught her attention.

“On the cover was this goofy looking boat with people around it saying ‘paddles up!’ And I had no idea what I was looking at,” said Conroy, who was born and raised Syracuse, N.Y., and moved to the Bluffton area with her husband, Dennis, in 2003.

As she read the article about the goofy boat – a dragonboat – and the team, DragonBoat Beaufort, Conroy knew exactly what she was looking at: herself.

“I realized that DragonBoat Beaufort is a cancer survivor support team and as a cancer survivor myself, I thought, ‘I have to check this out.’ ”

Maureen Conroy is second row right with her fellow DragonBoat team members.
Maureen Conroy is second row right with her fellow DragonBoat team members.

The power of a paddle

“The belief once was that if a woman had breast cancer, you do no upper body stuff, no, no, no,” said Conroy.

She cited a Canadian study from the 1990s in which researchers found the exact opposite to be true: that gaining upper body strength helps patients.

But Conroy, 68, doesn’t need a study to confirm what she discovered for herself as a paddler.

“When we get in the boat, our head is in the boat,” she said. “We don’t think about cancer, we just think about paddling.”

Greg Rawls, past president and marketing director of DragonBoat Beaufort, said Conroy is more than a dedicated paddler and an essential member of the organization, she is someone to be admired.

“Paddling to win is hard, especially when you consider what our cancer survivors have been through,” he said. “I love when they race – raw determination, guts and perseverance. Sometimes they win and sometimes they lose, but regardless, I am so proud that they have the guts to leave cancer on the dock and paddle.”

Those are the gifts of dragonboat paddling (in dragonboating, one paddles, never rows): physical strength, psychological healing and camaraderie.

The camaraderie and community Conroy discovered while paddling has led to opportunities on and off the water.

Two years ago, the International Breast Cancer Survivor DragonBoat races were held in Sarasota, Fla.

“With only four survivors, we didn’t have enough paddlers to make a whole team,” said Conroy. “But we were lucky. DBB sent the four of us to Sarasota anyway.”

There, Conroy and her teammates joined another group short on paddlers – the Perth, Australia, survivor team. Together, Beaufort and Perth, Australia, were one of 105 dragonboat teams from around the world.

It’s an example of how dragonboat teams pull together to support each other.

Conroy attends practice three times a week with her Beaufort team, but said weather prevents them from paddling year round.

“We stop when the water gets a certain temperature,” she said. “After all, you don’t want 22 people falling into the cold water.”

Add it all up – the practices, the races, the traveling back and forth – and that’s a lot of time for any group of adults to spend together.

Race Day 2016

As a member of DBB’s competitive team, Conroy and her fellow paddlers travel around the Southeast to compete and will be competing Saturday, Sept. 3, in the annual DragonBoat Beaufort races.

Armed with their paddles, lifejackets, and happy camaraderie, the team has already traveled to races in Charleston, Lake Lure, N.C., and Oriental, N.C., this year, with future competitions in Atlanta, Charleston and Jacksonville.

“When DragonBoat Beaufort races, you cannot miss us. We wear bright, bright, bright pink shirts,” she said.

On Race Day this year, however, Conroy will be wearing many shirts, literally.

She will don the shirt the Swamp Dragons, the team she is racing for, and then switch to her DBB volunteer shirt.

And there’s one more significant event for Maureen Conroy on Race Day – it marks the day she will be in remission from breast cancer for five years. Paddles up indeed.

Screen Shot 2016-09-01 at 11.20.26 AM

Running office or running marathons, Stone stays focused

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duffie stone

By Kat Walsh

Duffie Stone was elected to his third full term as Fourteenth Judicial Circuit solicitor on June 14.

But what exactly is a solicitor?

“No one knows what a solicitor is,” said Stone. “It’s not unusual for me to step up in front of a group of people to speak, and no one knows what I do.”

A solicitor – also known as a district attorney – is the county’s chief prosecuting agency. For Stone and the Fourteenth Circuit, which covers Allendale, Beaufort, Colleton, Hampton and Jasper counties, that means prosecuting about 5,000 cases every year.

Stone, who grew up in Myrtle Beach, said, “I can’t remember a time when I didn’t know who the solicitor was or what he did. Our solicitor, Jim Dunn, famously wore three-piece black suits and his lapel always matched his tie.

“My mother would go over to the Orry County courthouse to watch the criminal trials. Inside, there was theater seating. That’s where people went to see what was really going on. It was a combination of civic knowledge and entertainment.”

Stone knew he wanted to be a lawyer and to do trial work.

“I went to law school to be a prosecutor. After the first year of law school I worked as a summer clerk at the Solicitor’s Office in Columbia for $4.25 an hour,” he said. “That was the greatest job ever. … It helped me afford to pay for my apartment over Revco.”

But before law school was Wofford College, where, in the School of Liberal Arts, Stone was required to study broadly. What seemed interesting but irrelevant to an English major – chemistry, philosophy, psychology – is what Stone says he now uses in his work.

“My exposure to all the disciplines, you put it all together, and it is what I do on a daily basis – listening to witnesses, analyzing what they say, explaining DNA results to a jury, even just preparing the case for trial.”

And all those disciplines in college also seem to have taught Stone discipline in life, personally as a runner and professionally as a leader.

For most people, running means getting in a few miles a few times a week. But for Stone, running reflects responsibility. As his professional obligations increased, so did his weekly mileage.

“I started running when I became a prosecutor,” he said. “On my runs, I spent time thinking about my case, about my opening and closing. As my cases got bigger and the things I needed to think about got longer and longer, so did my runs. I went from 5Ks to 10Ks to the marathon.”

Stone has now successfully completed three marathons, including the Boston Marathon, and says the benefits are as much mental as they are physical.

“You train your body for the first 20 miles, you train your brain for the last six.”

As the head of the solicitor’s office, Stone believes the integrity and credibility of his role is crucial.

“Half the time I make a decision, I make half the room happy and half the room angry,” he said. “So you may not agree with every decision, but I want you to understand that I make those decisions for the right reason.”

Stone’s passion for his job is clear – he says he can’t imagine doing anything else – and he wants those who work for him to feel the same.

“I tell my new hires, ‘I want you finding your passion,’ ” he said. “If you enjoy what you’re doing, you will do very well and, on your own, get better.”

Top photo: Duffie Stone became solicitor of the Fourteenth Judicial Circuit in January 2006, succeeding Randolph Murdaugh, whose family had run the office for 86 years. Photo by Bob Sofaly.

Holly Bounds Jackson dishes about family, reporting and returning to the Lowcountry

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Holly Bounds and family

By Pamela Brownstein

Holly Bounds Jackson has been reporting the news and bringing Lowcountry residents memorable stories about interesting people and places for nearly 10 years.

After two years away, this hard-working broadcast journalist, wife and mother of two young girls recently returned to Beaufort County and is currently the weekend morning anchor at WSAV-TV.

Born and raised in the small town of Bishopville, Bounds Jackson, 32, developed a passion for journalism at a young age. In seventh grade, she had a high school journalism teacher who doubled as the local newspaper’s editor.

“She really encouraged me with my writing and gave me opportunities to work for the paper early on,” she said. “Writing is therapeutic to me, and I love the thrill of working breaking news and telling people what’s happening.”

Bishopville is also the hometown of her husband, Brian Jackson, 35.

“We grew up together and went on our first date when I was just 14,” Bounds Jackson said.

The two have been married for nine years, and before having kids they could be spotted at Harold’s Country Club in Yemassee or wearing clever costumes at their friends’ annual Halloween party.

Bounds Jackson’s first job out of college was at WJWJ-TV in Beaufort, which was a regional station of SCETV. She worked there for a year and then became the Lowcountry reporter for WSAV-TV in Savannah, and then the anchor for the 5 p.m. news; she was at WSAV for more than seven years.

After the birth of their first child, Sofie Beth, “I thought I needed a schedule change so I spent a brief time in public relations, but I found myself still itching to cover news whenever it broke,” she said.

So she jumped on the opportunity to report for WFLA-TV in Tampa. For two years, she worked as the Polk County reporter and the family lived in Lakeland, Fla., which they enjoyed because it was very family-oriented and a short drive from Disney World.

But during their second summer in Florida, they vacationed on Fripp Island for a week during the Beaufort Water Festival.

“Brian and I were sitting on the deck of Saltus, watching Deas Guyz perform from a distance,” Bounds Jackson recalled. “He looked at me and said, ‘We’ve gotta get back here.’ Three weeks later he was interviewing for the business banker role with Bank of America on Hilton Head.”

Once Brian was locking in his job, Bounds Jackson called her former news director at WSAV to see if there was a chance at coming back.

“I’ll never forget the warmth I felt when he said, ‘You can start tomorrow.’ People ask if it felt like I never left and that’s certainly the case. My mailbox was still in the newsroom and my curling iron was still in the makeup room. I guess they knew I’d be back.”

The family moved to Moss Creek in December 2015, and recently celebrated the birth of a new baby girl, Glory, who is 2 months old.

Juggling schedules as a working mom with two young children is extremely hard, Bounds Jackson admitted, and she is thankful that Brian is a great dad.

When Sofie Beth, 3, started at Cross Schools in Bluffton, Brian accidentally became a lunchbox sandwich artist and his creations have been a hit with not only her but her teachers and all of Bounds Jackson’s friends on social media. She said she made a New Year’s resolution to pack an awesome lunch once a week. She did OK for about three weeks, but one night she was too tired so Brian said he’d pack Sofie Beth’s lunch.

“I woke up the next morning and discovered a masterpiece of a sandwich! I couldn’t believe it,” said Bounds Jackson with a smile. “It’s really pretty hilarious and he’d be embarrassed if I told how much time he’s spent on a PB&J before.”

Bounds Jackson said she feels fortunate to be back in Beaufort County and working at a job she enjoys and raising her family in such a special place.

“There’s something about the Lowcountry that I haven’t been able to find anywhere else,” she said. “The people are so thoughtful and down-to-earth. They genuinely care about those around them and I want to always surround myself with those kind of folks, if I can.”

Top photo: Holly Bounds Jackson and her husband, Brian, take a family photo with their daughters Sofie Beth, 3, and Glory, 2 months.

One of Sofie Beth's colorful lunch creations

When Sofie Beth, 3, started at Cross Schools in Bluffton, Holly Bounds Jackson’s husband, Brian, accidentally became a lunchbox sandwich artist and his creations have been a hit not only with his daughter, but also with her teachers and their friends on social media. All photos provided.
When Sofie Beth, 3, started at Cross Schools in Bluffton, Holly Bounds Jackson’s husband, Brian, accidentally became a lunchbox sandwich artist and his creations have been a hit not only with his daughter, but also with her teachers and their friends on social media. All photos provided.

100 years strong

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By Molly Ingram

David Brophy was born and raised in New York and was part of the famous 7th Regiment Militia (similar to today’s National Guard) in New York. They were called into Federal Service with the approach of World War II and David headed to Camp Stewart in Georgia, his first introduction to living in the south.

As the war heated up, David enlisted in the Air Force where he became a navigator on B-17’s. During his training in Sacramento he met a young Marjorie Kohl who he then corresponded with throughout his overseas duty and promptly married three weeks after his return from the war. Together they had two children, Peter Brophy of Denver and Janice Brophy Billingsley of New York City.

During the war, David flew 25 daylight bombing missions over Germany before fighter escorts became the norm. He was based in Ridgewell, England and remembered this story: “I particularly remember one mission where we had the tires shot out of our plane so we had to do a crash landing in Ridgewell. Somehow we made it and the base Chaplain came out and blessed us since everyone on the ground was sure we would die in the crash. But we made it.”

After the war had ended, David, like everyone else, had to find a job. He ended up with a lifelong career in the textile business and with his typical wit David describes himself as a “string peddler.” I am pretty sure with his engaging humor, storytelling, and infectious grin, David was a tremendously successful salesman and a lot more than just a “string peddler.”

So how did David transition from Rye, NY where he and his family were living to a retired life here in Beaufort? “Well that’s another interesting story,” he says. “I had a friend named Charlie Granville and one year I was crewing on his boat bringing it north for the summer. We pulled into Beaufort and I was out of money so I went looking for someplace where I could cash a check. Couldn’t find any place and was getting somewhat desperate when up stepped the Beaufort Harbor Master who proceeded to cash my check for me. I never forgot him.”

Years later, David and his 2nd wife Irene (known as “Reenie”), were in Savannah visiting her daughters when they took a trip up to Beaufort. And when they came back to Savannah they had somehow managed to buy a house on New Street on the Point. This is where David and Irene moved to when retirement finally came. And that was about 30 years ago.

Known as the original definition of a “party guy”, David found lots to do in Beaufort to keep busy between social engagements. There was world travelling of course, volunteering at the Library, being involved with lots of Rotary projects, and being a part of the strong parishioner base at St. Peter’s.

His two children, Peter and Jan threw a luncheon for David’s milestone birthday this past weekend for about 35 of his closest cohorts. Jan said, “Having Dad still alive and able to still participate provides a wonderful way to keep family connected in this day and age. And what better way to do it than with a party for family and friends. Besides immediate family, Dad has eight grandchildren and four great-grandchildren and a ton of cousins who will be able to remember him for years to come. That is indeed a gift.”

David seems to have a personal philosophy about life that can be boiled down to just two words. “Why not?” And I think it is what has kept him going all these 100+ years. David has a sense of adventure, coupled with a sense of humor which seems to keep him young. He is very funny and has a real twinkle in his eye and I can’t think of anything nicer I could say about this charming gentleman. Why not indeed!

The officers and enlisted men of Brophy's B-17 Bomber.
The officers and enlisted men of Brophy’s B-17 Bomber.

From Hilton Head to Beaufort, the President of Alpha Janitorial Services shares her passion for keeping the Lowcountry clean

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Photo above: Debra with her two rescued Greyhounds.

Debra Dabney puts only one thing before her love of Beaufort and that’s her husband, Tom. Although she was born in Washington, DC, her affection for the area knows no bounds.

“I love, love, love the Lowcountry,” she exclaims. “The smell of the marsh grasses and watching the marsh grasses change color through the seasons and the calming effect of being on the water is heaven on earth!”

Debra is the owner and president of Alpha Janitorial Services, Inc., which she opened in 1986. What started as a Fripp and Harbor Island condo cleaning company expanded to include commercial cleaning. Today she employs over 50 staff and concentrates on commercial businesses like schools, professional offices and other multi-office businesses. Her business services include floor stripping and waxing and carpet cleaning in addition to general cleaning.

Before opening Alpha, Debra was the business manager of a Hilton Head electrical supply company. She credits her mother as the catalyst that led her to start her own business.

“She was constantly coaxing me to open a business of my own,” Debra says. “I’ve been told I’m somewhat of a neat freak.”

One of Debra’s most interesting work-related stories has a happy ending, but probably ranks in the top five of “Guess what happened at work today” anecdotes.

“While performing a move out clean at Parris Island, an employee accidentally vacuumed up a pet hamster. To our delight, the hamster was unharmed and was kept at our office as a pet until it could be retrieved by the previous tenant.”

After meeting on a blind date, Debra and Tom married in 1992. The couple has two grandchildren and two rescued greyhounds.

“Prior to our wedding, Tom was diagnosed with stage IV renal cell carcinoma with a life expectancy of 4-6 months,” Debra explains. “As my luck, or as I sometimes jokingly say, no luck would have it, he came home as the only survivor from an experimental treatment at Duke. He has been cancer free ever since. We are truly blessed!”

An avid boater and self-identified river rat, Debra also plays tennis at least twice a week and has served in several different capacities with the Beaufort Tennis Association.

She does plan to retire some day, but Debra currently enjoys working with her Alpha team.

“When I started my business I felt there was a need for more professionalism in the local cleaning business and I decided to act on that need. Our hard working employees put their hearts into what they do. I have been fortunate to work with a dedicated team and it is a pleasure to work with several schools and businesses in Beaufort County that appreciate the importance of a clean, sterile environment.”

Meet Beaufort Academy’s in-house dynamo

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PROFILE - Schools

Photo above: BA Headmaster, Stephen Schools, looks to the future.

By Molly Ingram

When you meet Stephen Schools, Headmaster of Beaufort Academy, you realize right away that he is a man with a vision. He has worked this past two years with the Board of Trustees and the parents groups to re-focus the 5 Year Strategic Plan towards big changes.

Unlike many strategic plans, BA’s has yearly benchmarks and evaluations. This allows you to know where you are relative to your ultimate goals at any point in time. And those goals are lofty at BA. Their biggest goal is to move from a student body of approximately 245 students to a much larger body of 300-325 students. That means more teachers and better and bigger facilities, all being accounted for in a new capital campaign about to be announced.

Stephen brings an interesting history to the job of headmaster at BA. He began his career as a math teacher at Porter-Gaud in Charleston. He loves math and technology related topics. He is currently keeping his hand in by teaching 9th grade computer coding.

The classroom experience brings an insightful twist to the various administrative jobs Stephen has held since Porter-Gaud. Education, morals, and character development are the platform on which everything they do at BA is situated. “Our students are known by most of the teachers and administrators, cared for, and are safe to be themselves. Plus, 100% of our graduating seniors are admitted into 4-year colleges.”

The “safe to be themselves” concept is new to this generation of current students. Safety in school has become both a physical issue with the number of school shootings that have taken place recently, but also a personal issue. “If a child doesn’t feel safe, it becomes very hard for them to learn.” Safety has also become a big issue with parents. “Parents want a strong environment for their child that is both enriching and welcoming and above all safe.”

Stephen’s two children, Caroline (9) and Sam (8) who both attend BA were quick to point out the difference in acceptance when they moved here two years ago from Baltimore. Both children agreed that Beaufort Academy was much more welcoming than other schools they had attended. Students and teachers were “friendlier” and “easier to get along with here than where we were before.”

So how do you raise your student population by about 30% over the next couple of years? According to Stephen, it is not an easy task. “It’s certainly going to be a challenge. BA is open to every student in Beaufort County regardless of their income or socio-economic status. We have a very generous and healthy financial aid program and we are more than happy to give it out to students who want to learn and who are willing to work hard. BA is for those students that want to experience the range of extracurricular activities we offer and to those who will benefit from the individual attention they can and will get from teachers.” He continues,”We need parents and students to visit the school, see what we do in person and how we do it. They should talk to current students and teachers. If the child is right for BA, then somehow we will make everything else work out.”

Stephen is up for the challenge of these next couple of years. The capital campaign will add funds to expand the gym, add classrooms, upgrade the dining facilities and re-do the gym. That will hopefully convince parents of students not currently enrolled in BA to go see what all the excitement is about. Those parents with student athletes will find a successful competitive atmosphere where their child will be able to play varsity sports while learning about fine arts, history, English, technological topics and much, much more.

Then there is the BA’s boys’ soccer team who will be trying to make it a three-peat this year if they can win the state championships for a third consecutive time. Whether they win or lose this year, you will find a team that is totally dedicated to their sport and to their studies and most importantly, to their school.

I believe BA is positioned in the right spot to achieve their 5-year plan. If you have students that need a nurturing environment to excel or smaller classrooms where they can ask questions without fear of repercussions or bullying, then Beaufort Academy is a school to consider. Take the time to schedule a visit. If nothing else you will meet some of the great team that makes BA unique in the Beaufort education market. Their mascot is an eagle, similar to Beaufort High School, but that is where the similarities end. These eagles are in a class by themselves.

NOC project manager dedicated to improving young lives

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Photo above: John Leadem, NOC project manager, impacts so many in Beaufort.

The Neighborhood Outreach Connection’s mission is “to help all individuals in the community achieve…economic independence and personal fulfillment.” At the same time, John Leadem, project manager of the Beaufort NOC, is finding his own personal fulfillment helping the local branch of the program grow and become sustainable.

While working with AT&T, John was responsible for community outreach and it soon became the favorite part of his job. When he moved to Beaufort, he was eager to do his part to enrich the community and focused his efforts on getting an NOC started.

“I really want to see the NOC become an integral part of the community,” says John. “My goal is to see the NOC kids make it to college and be successful in life.”

NOC connects with community members through a strong presence in low-income neighborhoods. They establish program centers that provide educational, health service and workforce development support by bringing resources, services and technology into the neighborhood.

John is enthusiastic about the work that’s being done in Beaufort. “The team at Beaufort Elementary School is especially supportive and very engaged,” he says. “My NOC teachers are exceptional; they are the lifeblood of the program. They come every day with passion and a true love for the kids. The kids themselves are full of energy.”

With funding from the state of South Carolina, NOC opened two new learning centers – one at Marsh Pointe Community Center and a second at Parkview Apartments – in May of this year. The initiatives also received support from the Beaufort County School District, teachers and administrators from Beaufort Elementary School and the Beaufort community.

“Children from low-income families face a significant achievement gap in school and receive limited learning support outside the school,” John says. “More than 1,000 learning activities were completed in NOC’s Summer Virtual Learning Program and nearly 300 hours were spent on lessons. Almost across the board, students saw an improvement in their aptitude scores for all subjects.”

Johns says that each day at NOC brings a new adventure. He enjoys building support for the programs and seeing the impact they have on the children. NOC will soon introduce an after school learning program for middle school students in the community and they also plan to expand their preschool program.

The father of four adult children – Timothy, Caitlin, Evan and Charlotte – John enjoys speed walking five miles per day, rain or shine. If you’re ever in a conversation with him, be sure to ask him how he defended himself against an irate, but romantic, Parisian mime.

As he looks to the future, John is eager to continue his work with NOC and “make a difference in the lives of these kids and contribute to the quality of life in Beaufort.”

A fitness and nutritional trainer for all ages

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Photo above: LifeFit Wellness Coach motivates others to keep trying.

By Molly Ingram

As many of you know, I decided to try the Body Makeover program that is provided by LifeFit and Beaufort Memorial in an attempt to begin to live a healthier lifestyle. And so far, so good. The program participants are divided into groups that have a set three days where they meet at the same time. My group is led by a stellar trainer and team captain named Amy Mulnix who is just an amazing young woman and mother of two youngsters.

Amy with her pup, Toby.
Amy with her pup, Toby.

Amy is originally from Wilkesboro, NC and graduated with a degree in Exercise Science from UNC Wilmington. Her formative years were very sports centric with a family who supported her involvement in basketball (Division I), swimming, soccer and track. By now you have figured out Amy is an excellent athlete.

Tall and lanky, she has the physique of a swimmer but her long red hair gives you a hint about the competitiveness that simmers just below her surface. So how do you take all that competitiveness and channel it into encouraging, mentoring, coaching and pushing a bunch of little old ladies, of which I am one, to become better and healthier individuals? That, my friends, is where the real talent lies.

As I look back on all of the failed times I have attempted to make the transition to “healthier” I can finally see why those times didn’t work and this time I think it will. It is simply a matter of getting the right person in the right job at the right time.

“I have always had a passion for the health and wellness world and enjoy sharing that passion with others through coaching, mentoring and training. Once I moved to Beaufort, an opportunity to work at LifeFit came up and I was greatly blessed to get the job. I’ve always been geared more towards working with children in a sport related sense, so this opportunity was a huge challenge for me but one I was very excited to accept. I grew up with coaches and personal trainers all my life, went to school to learn the science of it all, and really wanted to give back to others in the same way I had been rewarded. The game of sports taught me incredible life lessons; the value of a hard work ethic, team work, time management, loyalty, integrity, commitment, perseverance and compassion. With the Body Makeover Program, these were areas in which I could use my strengths and passion to share with and motivate others in hopes to impress upon them the importance and advantages of leading a healthy lifestyle.”

Amy created a “team” of us old ladies that provided multiple benefits for each of us. We became friends besides teammates. We shared each other’s successes and when we fell off of the “healthy eating” wagon (which was more often than Amy probably hoped for) we encouraged each other to “get back on track”, and we all got bitten by the fitness bug.

Amy’s ability to encourage each of us in different ways is amazing to watch. It shows her ability to lead, and we all followed with a smile on our faces except between 12-1 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday’s when we might have been seen calling her every name we could think of until our hour of class was over.

Amy was selected to participate in Leadership Beaufort which she is enjoying immensely. “I decided to take the ultimate step and apply for the program when I realized I wanted more from living in Beaufort. I have always had a passion for serving and volunteering, but how was I going to do this when all I did was work all day and then come home to take care of my little ones? I’m not the most out-going individual in new environments, so seeking these opportunities and getting involved wasn’t going to be easy for me. So I took the leap and was accepted into the program.”

“Growing up a mountain girl, I never really saw myself living on the coast. Even though I graduated college from a coastal community, it was always my dream to live in a cabin in the mountains and have true winters every year. Coming to Beaufort, I think everyone’s first reaction is to see how beautiful the community truly is from an aesthetic sense. Water, everywhere! Boats, sailboats, sunsets and sunrises as vivid as the eye could imagine, a natural, commercial-less coast line, the best local seafood around, beautiful plantations, and a diverse ecosystem unlike any other. But what I love most about Beaufort is not just the visual presentation. It’s the diversity in the people who live here. The ancient cultures that still thrive here and the influence they bring to the community. The history of Beaufort and how it came to be. And lastly, how we truly seek to be one united community that provides a framework to make Beaufort like no other place in the world. There is love here amongst individuals and a shared respect for our beautiful surroundings. We are truly in God’s country here and you can feel everyone embrace that responsibility.”

Amy has an old nursery rhyme that she grew up by and it certainly provides the mantra that she lives by:

Good. Better. Best.
Never let it Rest.
Until your Good is your Better
And your Better is your Best!

This little ditty now lives on my refrigerator as a reminder that life really is a journey and not a competition. It’s not something you win or lose, but how much you enjoyed life as you move through it. Amy has become a friend, coach, tormentor, slave driver, therapist, and sometimes masseuse. She has pointed me in the right direction and continues to nudge me forward. Thanks Amy for all you do for me and for all of us lucky enough to know and work with you.

A military life makes a big “Flash”

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Photo above: Paying tribute to a longtime Army Veteran, “Flash.”

By Molly Ingram

Meet Howard Born, known as “Flash” to his friends and cohorts. And Flash seems to be the best single word to describe him. Soon to be 76, Flash has spent almost his entire career in the military or in military related private industry. Born into a military family that seemed split between the army and the navy with an occasional flyer thrown in for good measure, Flash could salute and sing “Anchors Aweigh” — his Father’s college fight song — long before he could do most other things.

Flash was born in the Naval Hospital on the US Navy Submarine Base, in Coco Solo, Canal Zone, Panama where his Dad was stationed. Anne, his lovely wife, reminds him that he was shipped stateside on a “banana boat” to settle at a Florida base where his Father had been transferred. As a youngster, Flash remembers “getting a ride to school in 1st grade in the Navy mail truck” which was going into town to pick up the days delivery of packages etc. So more than once, Flash seemed to be involved with alternative methods of delivery at the hands of the military in his formative years.

Flash attended Penn State and there was a member of the army ROTC and a Marine reservist at the same time. He accepted a regular Army commission after graduation and began a stellar and challenging career in the Army for the next 26 years. Flash began as an Artillery Officer but moved to flight school becoming both a fixed wing and rotary wing (helicopter) aviator. After two tours in Vietnam, Flash served his country in various capacities in both the US and overseas. His last Army position was at the Pentagon as the Director for US Army International Development Programs, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Research and Development. Phew. It’s a good thing he wrote that down for me because there is no way I would have gotten it right otherwise.

When his 1st wife was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, Flash made the decision to retire as a Colonel from the Army and move to the private sector. Spending time working at General Dynamics on business development in the area of “unmanned aerial vehicle systems,” Flash kept his hand in the military world. I think “unmanned aerial vehicle systems” is what we now call drones and for me it harkened back to his early days of alternative delivery methods, like Banana Boats and the mail truck. And as I sit here writing this, I’m wondering if Flash is currently working in secret with Amazon on their new drone delivery system? Wouldn’t surprise me in the least.

Flash is the proud Dad of three great boys — Allen 48, John 46, and Robert 41 — all successful in their own right. His eldest son is an investment banker in Pennsylvania, the next is an Armored Calvary Commander based in Nevada and the youngest one is an entrepreneur in alternative energy sources in Hawaii. And then there is one very important granddaughter.

What struck me the most when talking with Flash was that he is a living, breathing, example of what I expect to see when someone says that “there is nothing more important than service to one’s country.” It is very much in his blood and his beliefs are strong and intransigent. Living in Beaufort, we are lucky to see this type of dedication and commitment around us with the new Marines graduating on Parris Island, fighter pilots based at MCAS, and so many military retirees who have decided to stay in our little part of paradise.

On November 14th, we owe all of these men and women more than just a heartfelt “thank you.” We owe them for all that we hold dear and that we value — our freedoms, the safety of our family and loved ones, and our opportunity for prosperity. Howard Born is a huge credit to his family, his friends (of which I now include myself), his community, the soldiers he has served proudly with, and to the United States of America. Flash, you make me damn proud to be an American!

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