Review Category : Profile

Ex Libris: Beaufort’s longest running book club celebrates 20 years

By Lanier Laney

Ex Libris, Beaufort’s longest running book club, was started in 1994 and is now celebrating 20 years of good friends getting together to discuss literature.

After developing a reading list at the beginning of the year, the women meet once a month to discuss the book — and maybe drink a little wine. They try to include a variety of genres from fiction to biographies to self-help and historical fiction. They have developed a reputation as the serious book club.

Members of the Ex Libris book club. Front, from left: Gwen Sanders and Sandra Myrick. Second row: Nancy Brown, Valerie Fisher, Vicki Mix, Rosemary Cuppia and Audrey Montgomery. Third row: Cindy Newman, Mary Sanders, Mary Segars, Priscilla Coleman, Fleetwood Bradshaw. Back row: Kathy Kilgore, Sally Post and Frances Cherry.

Members of the Ex Libris book club. Front, from left: Gwen Sanders and Sandra Myrick. Second row: Nancy Brown, Valerie Fisher, Vicki Mix, Rosemary Cuppia and Audrey Montgomery. Third row: Cindy Newman, Mary Sanders, Mary Segars, Priscilla Coleman, Fleetwood Bradshaw. Back row: Kathy Kilgore, Sally Post and Frances Cherry.

There are roughly 25 members; 16 of them have been with the club since the beginning. Some of the original members include Rosemary Cuppia, Gwen Sanders, Frances Cherry, Cindy Newman, Fleetwood Bradshaw, Vicki Mix, Kathy Kilgore, Sally Post, Mary Sanders, Priscilla Coleman, Fran Sanders, Mary Tatum, Sally Shepard, Laura Dukes, Sarah Kern, Robin Koppernaes and Liz Malinowski.

They have seen a lot of changes over the years — babies born, high school and college graduations, marriages, and now even grandchildren.

The group first came together at Kathy Kilgore’s house after several members had heard about book clubs being formed elsewhere. Those original members have now read and discussed 240 books (one a month for 20 years). Their first book was “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape” and one of their most recent books “The Fault in Our Stars” is also being made into a movie.

Kathy says, “I think our club is dynamic because many of us don’t socialize together any other time except book club. We come together and get one another’s perspective on a whole range of subjects. There are always a few disagreements, but we respect each other’s opinions.”

They take turns having the meetings at each other’s homes and each person brings appetizers to go with the wine.

Even with 25 members, between prior commitments, family events, and other distractions, they usually end up with 12 to 15 people at a meeting, which, as one member said, is the perfect number to be able to discuss the book. That’s why current membership is limited to 25, and there is a waiting list.

Member Vicki Mix admits that they particularly enjoyed reading the young adult books. “It lets us know what our kids are reading,” she said.

Fleetwood Bradshaw said, “Over the last 20 years, the lives of our members have been interwoven creating a tapestry of friendship. We have gooed over babies and wept over graves. We have cheered each other’s accomplishments and supported each other during times of illness, disappointments and sorrow.  We raised babies, built houses, attended school and church events. We’ve taken our children to college and our parents to nursing homes. We watched our children marry  and now watch as our babies have babies. Who knows what books and what events will take us through the next 20 years. We met over the love of words and we stay for words of love.”

She adds, “A wise friend once told me, you will never be lonely as long as you have a book to read.”

Says Kathy Kilgore, “Personally, this club has encouraged me to read books I may otherwise have not picked up. It provides me with a new perspective on many subjects and it has been a wonderful journey with a fabulous group of women.”

As a group they have contributed more than $3,000 to a variety of causes including Literacy Volunteers of the Lowcountry, DSS Adopt a Family, Born to Read, National Wildlife Foundation and Friends of Caroline Hospice.  They pick a deserving organization to give to every year. And every December they invite spouses and guests to an annual Christmas Party.

They have also hosted many visiting authors such as Mary Kay Andrews, Lois Battle, Cassandra King and Tommy Hayes. A favorite highlight was hosting Matthew Bruccoli, a professor of English at the University of South Carolina and the preeminent expert on F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Kathy said, “Many people don’t realize that The Matthew J. & Arlyn Bruccoli Collection of F. Scott Fitzgerald constitutes the most comprehensive research collection for the study and teaching of Fitzgerald and is housed at the University of South Carolina in Columbia.”

The club’s current “leader” is Sandra Myrick. She says, “I would like to thank the founding members for all their efforts throughout the years in motivating the group to continue for the past 20 years!  What an accomplishment. I would also like to thank all of our members past and present for giving of their time and talents to keep this fine organization of lovely ladies meeting to discuss an open-minded collection of reading and contributing to the many nonprofits over the years. I hope that we will be celebrating our organization many, many more years to come. The past 20 have proven very successful so I am hoping in the next decades to have the same success.”

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Refined Design: Meet Maleia Everidge, Grayco’s in-store home designer

By Lanier Laney

Over the past few years, Grayco Hardware has been undergoing a dramatic transformation into Grayco Home and Hardware with the addition of beautiful decorative objects for home, garden and entertaining.

Maleia Everidge is seen in The Lowcountry Living Showroom at Grayco on Lady’s Island.

Maleia Everidge is seen in The Lowcountry Living Showroom at Grayco on Lady’s Island.

The creation of this transformation has been a result of the hard work of Marjorie Gray and Maleia Everidge, Grayco’s in-house designer. Maleia, a North Carolina native, says, “Thanks to Marjorie, Grayco is a family owned local hardware store that has taken on a new image — not only as a place where you can find the tools to build or repair a home but beautifully decorate it as well.”

The now-gorgeous home department that was started by Marjorie as a few humble shelves in the middle of the store four years ago has expanded to an entire furniture and lamp department in the back of the store. Maleia currently oversees and buys for this “Lowcountry Living Showroom.”

Marjorie hired Maleia as her co-buyer and in-house designer two years ago.

”Maleia has been a very successful designer in Beaufort for years; I saw her work and loved it and what a wonderful fit it has been for us,” Marjorie said.

Maleia got her design experience early, working in some of the best designer showrooms at the famous North Carolina furniture market in High Point during college.

She started her first design business in the early 2000’s, a few years after graduating from the University of North Carolina.  She also gained experience building and renovating numerous homes of her own and for friends and clients over the years. She’s a former associate of Beaufort’s prestigious M Home and Garden store on Bay Street, where she further refined her craft.

Maleia “discovered” Beaufort through her good friends Francis and David Cherry. She and her husband moved here and raised three wonderful children. Zach, 21, is now at the College of Charleston; Addie, 19, attends Clemson University; and Emma, 17, goes to Beaufort Academy.

Says Maleia about Beaufort, “I just love the sense of community we all have here and our beautiful setting on the coast.”

Maleia has volunteered for more than 10 years with Historic Beaufort Foundation and has been an active contributor to many of the beautiful decorations at the organization’s annual soiree and other events. She is also very involved with St. Peter’s Catholic Church’s “Homes for the Holidays,” where she has decorated five acclaimed show houses.

When it comes to her style, Maleia says, “Some people call it ‘Coastal Chic’, to me it’s more of a ‘Refined Rustic.’ For example, I’d put an elegant, modern, white lamp on a table with a driftwood finish. I love clean, modern, simple, sophisticated, and to me, the rustic part makes it approachable, warm and inviting, by using lots of natural materials and finishes and more casual and easy living for our seaside lifestyle. I like to make people feel good in a room and that it shows a part of their personality.”

With so many people redoing their beach rentals this time of the year, Maleia specializes in the “quick refresher.” She keeps up with the trends in home design and says you can do it easily (without spending a fortune) with some new graphic pillows, a pair of modern lamps and maybe a mirror.

In the Lowcountry Living Showroom, Maleia has worked hard to give customers a high-end chic look, at a great price. She points to a mirror and says, “That mirror on the wall looks exactly like a Mitchell Gold which retails for almost $1,000. Our version is $299.”

The showroom also exclusively carries one of Maleia’s favorite High Point furniture collections called Braxton and Culler, made in the USA. (It’s proved to be so popular they can barely keep it in the store!) She brought modern graphic wallpaper and fabric to the store and several new lamp lines, to name just a few. She also loves the new Benjamin Moore paint line that Grayco owner Herb Gray has added “because of their beautiful coastal colors.”

If a customer brings a picture of a room or a paint swatch to the store, Maleia will gladly give advice there. For larger jobs, she has a successful interior design business called ME Design where she does large and small residential and commercial projects.  She recently did a very beautiful re-do of Dr. Karen Eller’s office in Port Royal.   She’s been a great resource too for other top interior designers in the Lowcountry who visit her often for suggestions and help.

It’s rare to find a place like Grayco that can meet all your decorating needs — from nails to designer sofas — under one roof. And with Maleia Everidge on the team as the in-store designer, the store has hit a “home run.”

CONTACT MALEIA: Call her interior design business ME Design at 843-812-1814, visit her at Grayco Hardware and Home, 136 Sea Island Parkway, Lady’s Island, SC, 843-521-8060, or email

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Coordinating Care: Friends of Caroline Hospice hires new director of clinical operations

By Lanier Laney

Lindsay Roberg, BSN, RN, was recently hired as the new director of clinical operations for Friends of Caroline Hospice, a local nonprofit that provides quality care and support for those living with life-threatening illnesses and their families.

Lindsay Roberg is the director of clinical operations for Friends of Caroline Hospice.

Lindsay Roberg is the director of clinical operations for Friends of Caroline Hospice.

Lindsay oversees the daily operations of the clinical staff at Friends of Caroline Hospice and is a  part of the clinical team. Her job consists of hiring, scheduling, education and coordinating care to ensure the best patient and family holistic care possible.

“My job is full of puzzles and everyday is different!” she said. “I love it because it allows problem solving that positively impacts people’s lives. I always say I love the difference that Friends of Caroline Hospice can make in an hour. It’s amazing.”

Lindsay, who was born in Carbondale, Illinois, in southern Illinois, said she was raised all over the U.S. as a military brat. “My family moved every three years so I’ve lived in all types of places including Fargo, North Dakota, and Yuma, Arizona. I’ve spent the majority of my life in Beaufort though — I guess I can officially call myself a local? I’ve been here 19 years.”

She “discovered” Beaufort because her father was stationed here twice. After he retired from the Marine Corps after 20 years, the family settled here.

Lindsay met her husband, Jim Spratling, at the Habersham Farmers Market. He was running a French bistro there and Lindsay and her mom were selling goat milk soap at the market. They have been very happily married for four years.

Jim, formerly a chef at Saltus, has been working at the Callawassee Island Club as the executive chef for the past two years.

Lindsay is very proud of the children of her blended family: her daughter, Madisen, 8, attends Riverview Charter School, while her stepson Jaxon, 14, attends Beaufort Middle School, and Miles, 10, attends Bridges Preparatory School.

Her favorite thing about Beaufort is being outdoors — whether it’s boating, fishing, kayaking or scuba diving. “There is always someway to enjoy the beauty of where we live,” she said.

When it comes to her job, Lindsay said she has always known she wanted to work in the medical field. “My road has been a long tangled one that I believe led me to this career for my purpose,” she says. “After working for South Carolina Department of Natural Resources for 10 years as a biologist, I bit the bullet and went back to school for nursing. I couldn’t be happier about my choice. It was difficult, but so worth it.”

Lindsay describes the critical role that nurses play when it comes to hospice care: “Nurses have the ability to connect with mankind on a very personal level, one that is both the beginning and end of life. The impact that a nurse can have on this journey is one that was intriguing to me. Hospice care is a field of nursing that is misunderstood and continues to carry stigmas. It is important for nurses to advocate for hospice care in end-of-life. The support that a patient and their support system can experience can change the dynamics of end-of-life care.  Once I had the experience of hospice, I knew it was the field for me.  We are able to help people at a time in life that is very important for the human experience.”

She said she hopes to change people’s misconceptions about hospice care.  “Generally when people think of hospice care, they immediately think of the bad.  There are a lot of good, happy moments in hospice. It is very rewarding.”

Her dedication toward her chosen career and her work ethic she learned from her family. Lindsay says, “My parents always taught me that our most important work is to have a purpose.  Whether it is something you are drawn to or a purpose you create, put 110 percent into whatever you are doing.  My dad always said ‘you may not be able to change the world, but you can change your corner.’ That is my mission.  I want to educate this community about hospice care and the importance of taking care of one another.”

Friends of Caroline Hospice started out as a group of individuals who saw a need for hospice care in Beaufort and wanted to make a difference in the community, and 33 years later the organization continues to full fill that mission. Says Lindsay, “People helping people — that’s what it’s all about.”

• If interested in volunteering or donating or finding out more about this local nonprofit, contact Friends of Caroline Hospice by calling 843-525-6257 or visiting the office at 1110 13th Street, Port Royal, SC, 29935, or online at

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Rick and Deborah Stone of the Beaufort Bread Company: Baking up goodness

By Lanier Laney

Rick and Deborah Stone operate the Beaufort Bread Company where they oversee every aspect of the operation from the making of the breads, pastries, sausages and meals to the service and catering.

Says Rick, “We pride ourselves on being a local neighborhood business for the benefit of our neighbors on Lady’s Island and Beaufort. Deborah runs a personal fitness training business as well. She proves that you can eat our breads and pastries and remain fit!”

Rick and Deborah Stone in Paris where they go for food inspiration. They are in their pajamas in front of the Eiffel Tower on Christmas morning. Rick said, “We love to travel and our favorite place in the world is Paris where I simply let Deborah, who is fluent in French, do the talking and I just nod and follow along. My one attempt at ordering in French I ordered a battleship of wine rather than a bottle. I have been silent in that language ever since.”

Rick and Deborah Stone in Paris where they go for food inspiration. They are in their pajamas in front of the Eiffel Tower on Christmas morning. Rick said, “We love to travel and our favorite place in the world is Paris where I simply let Deborah, who is fluent in French, do the talking and I just nod and follow along. My one attempt at ordering in French I ordered a battleship of wine rather than a bottle. I have been silent in that language ever since.”

Rick, a native of Wilmette, Illinois, retired from a large global contract food service company three years ago. He says with a smile, “After six months, Deborah asked me if I was going to be home every day. I realized that was not simply a question. She was studying hard to get her certification as a personal physical fitness trainer and was used to me traveling. I had always loved baking in my career as a chef and saw a niche in Beaufort for an artisan bakery.”

He said the idea took off from there. “We spent two years developing the concept. We began by selling breads at the Port Royal Farmers Market and developed a following. Next, we worked on the site. It was quite a ride and probably deserves a book on the topic of starting a small business in a difficult financial time. Once we truly recognized that banks would not be a part of the equation and we would have to leverage our children’s inheritance, everything began to fall in place. (Our children, by the way, are hoping for a huge success!),” Rick said.

“We live on Lady’s Island and love it. Picking a site on the island was a no-brainer. Our first year has been full of ups and downs as we found our stride. We have evolved in ways we didn’t anticipate but have always kept our focus on the goal of being a successful local business.”

Rick adds, “We have been truly overwhelmed by the support of our community. We have a staff that we believe is the best in the area at providing a welcoming environment and taking care of each customer as if he or she were the only customer in the place”

Deborah, who was born and raised in Montreal, Quebec (the child of English and American parents) met Rick at the Stowehoff Inn in Stowe, Vt. (It was the inn featured in the movie “The Four Seasons” with Alan Alda, if you are old enough to remember). Rick was a newly hired chef and Deborah was the assistant general manager in charge of catering when they fell in love and got married.

Rick said, “We are happily celebrating our 25th anniversary next month thanks to her incredible patience and forgiving nature!”

They adore their three grown children who live in Vermont; Boston, Mass.; and Ghana, Africa; with three delightful grandchildren in Vermont.

Rick describes how he became a chef: “I started as a dishwasher while attending Georgetown University and moved up to an Omelette Chef, which was very trendy in the 70’s. I graduated with a Liberal Arts degree in Psychology and had learned to cook. It is easy to figure out which skill led to a job. As I worked my way though many kitchens in Chicago and Vermont, I realized this was my life’s work. When I finally won an American Culinary Federation Competition, I figured I better stick with this.

“Over the years as a chef, the baking and pastries often fell to me because there was no one else to do the work. I enjoyed the challenge. I have trained in pastries at the Ritz-Carlton in Paris, taken courses at the CIA in Hyde Park, N.Y., and competed in American Culinary Federation Competitions.”

When Deborah and  Rick married, they knew they wanted to do something together. They looked for the “right” place to open a restaurant. Their search took them throughout New England and then, on a whim, to Hilton Head where they fell in love with the place and opened their first restaurant, Rick’s Place. Eventually, they expanded to operating not only the restaurant but all the food service in The Sea Pines Resort, including the catering at the Heritage Golf Tournament and Family Circle Tennis Cup.

Says Rick, “Like so many people who have moved to Hilton Head, we were sure it was the guy who moved there right after us that ruined the character of the island. We had close friends who moved to Beaufort and insisted it was a place for us. After selling the restaurants and living in Mexico and Belize for a year we came back and eventually did settle in Beaufort. We love the size and the feel of the community. We have met so many interesting people since opening the bakery that our only regret is that we didn’t move here sooner.”

Adds Deborah, “We love the spirit of Beaufort. It is a community of caring people and a terrific mix of people from all over the world.”

She said, “We both love the outdoors and take advantage of all that Beaufort offers. Whether it be kayaking out our back door, hitting the links (and I use that term loosely), road biking or simply enjoying the amazing sunsets from our porch, cocktails in hand (I am sure that is a sport somewhere!), we take advantage of every spare moment to enjoy our amazing environment.”

As far as their restaurant and bakery is concerned,  Rick said, “We wanted to create a spot where people can come and relax while enjoying quality food served by people who are grateful you have come to see us. We believe in creating a work environment that allows are employees to live ‘normal’ lives. It is why we are open five days and not at night. Our employees have families and many are single parents and we want them to have balance in their challenging lives. Kristen, Laura and Loretta are extremely talented individuals who put our guests first. We couldn’t ask for a better trio out front serving our goods. James, our chef; Brandy and Inna, our bakers; and Xavier and David, our dishwashers, all give 100 percent to make things happen.”

Says Deborah, “Food is just another outlet for Rick’s creative endeavors. He is truly the quintessential Renaissance man. In fact, he personally made and designed the lighting fixtures, tables, countertops, and stained glass leading into the eclectic bathroom at the BBC.”

Deborah is a skilled personal fitness trainer, and Rick jokingly calls her “Jackie Lalane” after the legendary Jack Lalane, the first fitness guru in the 50s.  Says Rick with a laugh, “I would not be surprised to see her swimming in the Beaufort River, pulling a boat from a rope she is holding in her teeth.”

Deborah fulfilled a lifelong dream when she received her certification as a personal fitness trainer. Having received a teaching degree from McGill University, she always wanted to help people feel better about themselves, both mentally and physically. She is now able to accomplish that with her training business. Her motto remains “70 is the new 40” as she pursues yet another degree in physical therapy.  She is also an avid gardener, having been instrumental in initiating the very successful Rent a Master Gardener Program comprised of volunteer Master Gardeners.

The Stones have enjoyed volunteering for the local arts council and Historic Beaufort Foundation, both great organizations that they feel are very important to the well-being of Beaufort.

As for the future? Rick says, “We certainly expect to develop this business to be a fixture of the community. Retiring again for me would simply be sleeping past 3 a.m.! We hope some day our employees will own the business. They make a great team and it would be a fitting way for us to fade into the sunset.”

IF YOU GO: The Beaufort Bread Company is located at 102 Sea Island Parkway, Beaufort, SC 29907 (near the bike shop on Lady’s Island) and is open Tuesday through Saturday, 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Call 843-522-0213.

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Second Helpings: This hard-working local nonprofit distributes food and assists those unable to put food on the table across Beaufort County

Since 1992, Second Helpings — a nonprofit charitable food distribution project — has been committed to fighting hunger in Beaufort County.

Second Helpings Executive Director Maureen Korzik stands with Beaufort Coordinator Cesar Garcia in front of one their delivery trucks.

Second Helpings Executive Director Maureen Korzik stands with Beaufort Coordinator Cesar Garcia in front of one their delivery trucks.

The recognizable trucks are on the roads seven days a week, rescuing food that would have been discarded from area grocery stores and redistributing it to area agencies and churches that serves the disadvantaged countywide.

Last year, Second Helpings was designated a “Charity Angel” by the SC Secretary of State. The group dedicates at least 80 percent of the money raised toward their core mission of rescuing food; very few charities can say that.

In December, Maureen Korzik became the executive director of Second Helpings, and she is working hard to continue the great work already accomplished by the organization, in addition to updating their technology and getting the word out about the important role the group plays in the community.

A self-described “Jersey girl,” Maureen said, “I oversee the day to day operations of Second Helping. That means I do whatever needs being done — manager, fundraiser,  agency relations, marketing and chief bottle washer.”

Maureen loves the ever-changing challenges of the job. “My first week of work, we got a call from Walmart telling us they needed us to pick up five pallets of bananas by the next day!,” she recalled. “Or this past December, Publix called on a Thursday at 5 p.m. and said they had a tractor trailer worth of food from their Christmas food drive (about 16,000 pounds) we needed to pick up by the next day. Our volunteers did it!”

Maureen has been happily married for 28 years to her husband Tom, who worked for Bank of America for 21 years in Charlotte and is now a CPA. She’s the proud mom of Andy, 27, and Pete, 22.

Says Maureen, “We moved here from Charlotte because we wanted to be near the ocean. We grew up going to the Jersey shore every summer. Beaufort is a wonderful town with its waterfront views, friendly people and history.  It reminds me of the town I grew up in.”

Before coming to Beaufort, Maureen worked as an executive director of Matthews Free Health Clinic in Matthews, N.C., in its formative years. She  served on other nonprofit boards, volunteered at her church as a faith formation teacher, did PTA, was a class mom, Cub Scout leader and started a woman’s group called Common Cents that focused on financial literacy for women.

Maureen says, “I have always been very fortunate in all my endeavors. At the end of the day, it’s not about what you get but what you give that makes a fulfilling life.”

She adds, “Second Helpings is a great organization and I’m proud to be a part of it. We are so grateful to have Cesar Garcia, our Beaufort coordinator, and his army of volunteers. They go out seven days a week rescuing food so that others will have something to eat. They rescued over 1.3 million pounds of food last year in Beaufort. They are a dedicated bunch and we love them.”

Beaufort Coordinator Cesar Garcia has been involved with Second Helpings for 10 years. He said, “We rescue unwanted food and serve the community. We believe that no person in our community should have to worry about whether or not they will have enough food to eat today. We fight hunger in a big way. We rescue good, unwanted food, and give it to groups closest in touch with those who need it most. To date, we have rescued over 25 million pounds of food since 1992 and delivered it to over 65 agencies.”

Cesar said the greatest help comes from the supermarkets they deal with such as Bi-Lo,  Food-Lion,  Publix,  Walmart, and other food vendors. “Because of their generous food donations, we are able to provide food to thousands of people in Northern Beaufort County,” he said.

There are 83 big-hearted volunteers who come from Beaufort, Dataw, Cat Island, Lady’s Island and Brays Island.

Adds Cesar, “Most of our volunteers, after working hard all their lives, are now retired. They want to give back to the community by helping in this project. It’s a great feeling to see so much food being distributed, that if not for Second Helpings would have been thrown out. Just knowing you are helping those in need is rewarding enough, and many of our volunteers are comforted by this act of kindness”.

As for the future, Cesar says, “We would like to generate more support and funding from the community. Awareness is the key, and our goals are to heighten public awareness of the needs of the hungry here in Beaufort, and the significant role Second Helpings plays in food distribution and feeding the hungry. We are always in need of new volunteers, and welcome anyone willing to donate their time and be part of the team.”

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With a focus on spending time together and having fun, Bunny and Dennis Mindermann represent Beaufort’s Modern Family

By Pamela Brownstein

Last Friday, adults, teenagers and young children gathered at the Mindermann house to celebrate Bunny Mindermann’s birthday. They all enjoyed grilled steaks, roasted vegetables and Bunny’s favorite salad that features hearts of palm and artichoke hearts.

But more than the food and drink, everyone enjoyed each others’ company — the children played outside, the teenagers told jokes and hung out in the large garage while the adults talked and laughed on the back deck as the tiki torches danced and late afternoon turned into night.

Dennis, center, and Bunny, at right, with kids, (from left) Holt, Ryan and Frank.

Dennis, center, and Bunny, at right, with kids, (from left) Holt, Ryan and Frank.

It’s a typical scene that plays out often at their house, where the emphasis on spending time with friends and loved ones makes this family tight-knit and creates a welcoming environment for others around them.

As the mother of three kids ranging in age from 15 to 4, Bunny stays busy keeping the household running. She grew up in Myrtle Beach and moved to Beaufort in 1996. Most recently she worked full time at Ali’s Attic, but is now enjoying time at home since the store closed last month.

Bunny and Dennis first met when they worked at the same company in Beaufort. But they were both married to other people at the time, so they were just friends. When she stopped working there, the two lost touch. Then, as fate would have it, they ran into each other at a gas station, and that was the spark that reignited their relationship, although this time on a more intimate level.

They have been married for six years, and they are playful and sweet and fun to be around.

Dennis is a laid-back, hard-working guy with a good sense of humor. He likes to work in the yard, and he likes the Blue Angels, he has pictures of the jets hung up all around their garage, which also doubles as a bit of a man cave. He also likes going to the grocery store — he’s well known at the BiLo on Boundary Street because he shops there almost everyday, and their family has saved up some major Fuel Perks.

And it’s a good thing too because they recently added a third car to their fleet in anticipation of Bunny’s oldest daughter, Holt Emeline Winkler, getting her license when she turns 16 at the end of May.

Holt attends Battery Creek High School where she is a stellar student and is also involved with band. She is section leader for the drumline, and she plays the bass drum in marching band and timpani in concert band. She started playing the drums, bells and keyboard in elementary school, and now she’s also a member of the Beaufort Symphony Youth Orchestra.

Even though Holt’s technically a sophomore, after taking her first college credit course this year in English, she realized she learned more in that class than any other, and — because her grades are so good — decided she wanted to graduate a year early.

Bunny said this was hard for her to accept at first, she was planning for the family to have two more years all together, but now she fully supports Holt’s decision because she knows her daughter is smart and driven.

Bunny jokes that one of the biggest challenges of being a parent is “knowing if you are doing the right thing and not messing them up for life!” But she must be doing something right because in addition to being beautiful and talented, both of her daughters are nice, smart and respectful.

As a seventh grader at Beaufort Middle School, Ryan Marie Winkler, is an energetic 13-year-old. With her big blue eyes and long blond hair, this outgoing teen recently landed the lead role in Beaufort Middle School’s production of the musical “Fame.” The public is invited to support the students and see the show on stage at Beaufort High School auditorium on Friday, April 11 at 6 p.m.

Like her sister, Ryan also performs with the Beaufort Symphony Youth Orchestra, but she prefers strings and is the second chair violist.

Frank, 4, is a sweet little guy who keeps everyone on his toes. He likes to play the drums, just like his big sister Holt, and he is fast on his bike, even with training wheels. He turns 5 this year and will start Kindergarten in the fall.

He likes to play with his cousin, Tucker, the son of Bunny’s sister, Anna, who also lives in Beaufort and works at a local daycare facility. The two boys enjoy spending time with their grandma, Frances Siler, who was a third grade teacher at Laurel Bay for 20 years.

With beach season fast approaching, the family is getting ready for their favorite time of the year. Every weekend during the summer, they pack up all their gear — including canopies, coolers and corn hole — and spend the whole day at Hunting Island State Park. Dennis has already purchased and assembled a new grill in anticipation for cooking out at the beach.

Ryan says, “I enjoy spending time as a family and all the activities that we do together, especially our days on the beach at Hunting Island.”

The Mindermanns are also generous people who are always willing to help their friends and neighbors

According to friend Cindy Trainum, “I was introduced to Bunny and Dennis about a year ago by my daughter, Phoebe, who is ‘besties’ with Ryan.  They are such a down-to-earth couple with whom my boyfriend, Pat, and I quickly became fast friends. They are always there when you need them — and always fun to be around!”

The whole family appreciates all that Beaufort has to offer — from the small town charm to the festivals to the natural beauty and outdoor opportunities — and they all make our community a better place to live.

Bunny said, “Our plans for the future include raising our kids and having fun enjoying our town.”

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Meet the McCaffrees

By Lanier Laney

If you haven’t met Brian and Melanie McCaffree yet, then you absolutely must. They win my vote as one of Beaufort’s 2014 most captivatingly fun young couples.

Melanie and Brian McCafree at the Kentucky Derby.

Melanie and Brian McCaffree at the Kentucky Derby.

Kentucky native Melanie grew up on a horse farm outside of Louisville — the Thoroughbred Capital of the World. As Melanie says, “Horses and Bourbon run in my veins.”

Her father was a renowned trainer and breeder of Tennessee Walking Horses and her grandfather was a legendary Louisville “horse whisperer” long before it became a popular term in today’s world.

Melanie is a successful horse trainer and teacher here now in the Lowcountry having opened Short Stirrup Stables for Children just outside of Habersham in a beautiful historic barn.

Says Melanie, “Horses are so healing for children and adults. There’s an old saying, ‘the outside of a horse is good for the inside of a man’. I can be having a terrible day that turns around with a quick nuzzle from my horse.”

Her husband of eight years, Brian McCaffree, from a distinguished Montana family, also has a horse filled past, having grown up raised by cowboys on a ranch in Billings, Montana.

Melanie says, “Brian grew  up ranching in Montana’s big sky country, with snowy winters and trout streams — a boy’s idea of heaven. He was fly fishing by the age 7 and was just as ‘hooked’ as the trout he caught.”

Brian and his parents’ love of the ocean brought him to Spring Island from land-locked Montana, where he got a Captains license and started a charter fishing business called Holden On Charters (see all the big fish they catch on their Facebook page).

Melanie teaches the children of the Lowcountry elite to ride horses for the first time; lessons are for beginner to intermediate. She says, “Safety, safety, safety is our motto! Both Marianne (her fellow teacher) and I are safety nuts when riding or being around horses.”

Then she adds, “Secondly, it has to be fun! Recently, one of our students turned 10 and had a huge birthday party at the barn. Pony rides, games and lots of cake. Probably the best birthday party ever. All the kids were completely enthralled with not only the horses but the barn life itself.”

The party gave children who wouldn’t normally ride a chance to have a pony ride and build a confidence that was instant the minute they were in the saddle.

In describing her fellow teacher Marianne, Melanie said, “If ever I had a mentor it was Marianne Murphy. As luck would have it, Marianne has moved to Beaufort and is training children at Short Stirrup. If my family gave me ‘horse sense,’ Marianne gave me style.”

Melanie, who used to run the equestrian program at Spring Island, met her future husband Brian there.

“We met during a trail ride on mules, of all things. Brian, fresh from Montana, wore skin tight Wranglers and a tall black cowboy hat — something he would never be caught in now, which is a shame because it’s a smoking HOT look,” Melanie recalled with a smile. “In an attempt to impress me, he fell off his mule on his butt. That was it. I fell in love and we got married — that was eight happy years ago!”

Brian now works for Gulfstream and loves it. He said, “It’s a great company and I’m proud to be a part of its growth.”

In his spare time, Brian’s still on the river, running fishing charters.

Melanie and Brian also love Jack Russell Terriors. Even though early in their marriage Brian pronounced, “We are not small dog owners!,” he now adores them.

And Melanie claims the dogs have given her a life mission saying, “Live life like a Jack Russell — fearless, intuitive, energetic, devoted, and above all comical!”

When it comes to Beaufort, they said, “Beaufort has everything we love. The land is beautiful, the water is beautiful and the people are beautiful!”

Melanie and Brian have also both worked hard this year on Historic Beaufort Foundation’s Lafayette Soiree to be held at Alison and Mark Guilloud’s beautiful home this Saturday, April 5. Melanie is head of the decorations committee and Brian helped Mark build the 18th century French village for the theme “April in Paris.”

Adds Melanie, “Most recently, I’ve had the pleasure of working with an incredibly smart team for a great cause, The Lafayette Soirée for Historic Beaufort Foundation.”

Melanie has done such a superb job as committee head this year  that she has been asked to be next year’s chairperson for the 45th annual Lafayette Soiree to be held at the spectacular Marsha Williams and Scott Sonic home in the historic Point neighborhood.  Something to look forward to!

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Her heart belongs to Tabby

Jessica Weiss has devoted her life to helping Beaufort’s unloved cats

By Lanier Laney

California native Jessica Weiss is the director of operations at the Beaufort County Tabby House, located in the corner of Beaufort Town Center next to the Beaufort Book Store. If you go by there you can look in the window and see the “show” — 40 happy, well cared for cats walking around the floor of the building waiting to be adopted.

Jessica Weiss and Patches, her one-eyed cat.

Jessica Weiss and Patches, her one-eyed cat.

Says Jess, “We have an open floor cat adoption facility. This means cages are only used for medical isolation. Our cats roam free, like being in a home, everything is there for them.”

Jess handles day-to-day operations of the Tabby House adoption center. This includes a myriad of jobs from administrative duties to managing the Facebook page with volunteer help; keeping in constant contact with the Beaufort County Animal Shelter and many vets; assessing new cats to be brought in for adoption; overseeing all medical care of cats in their care (under vet instruction); establishing healthy protocols for the cats; and a lot of networking with local businesses, animal care facilities and other rescue groups. Not to mention being in charge of fundraising, too.

Says Jess, “No matter how long my days are, I go to bed happy and proud of the furry lives I helped that day. I know I can’t save them all but I can look back and be proud of the ones I did. This is the most satisfying, rewarding and emotional job I’ve ever had.”

Jessica has been taking care of special needs animals for the last few years through the Beaufort County Animal Shelter and with their help and assistance she’s fostered almost 200 since 2012, before Tabby House opened.  Many of these cats were injured or born with issues, feral, abused, or too young to survive on their own.  Says Jess, “My passion lies with cats and kittens that need extra assistance to get on with their lives. These include one-eyed cats (which I’ve had five), one no-eyed kitten who acts as if he can see, days old bottle fed, three-legged cats, cats in casts, ones with heart murmurs, cats that require subcutaneous fluids and medicine multiple times a day, post-op recovery, and feral kittens who just need the “hiss kissed out of them” to become wonderful companions.”

Jessica’s love of animals came early. She admits, “I can’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t have pets. My mother worked for a vet when I was in high school and I grew up with amazing animal stories. The things animals have endured and not only lived through but thrived afterwards has always been amazing to me. I’ve learned many things from animals in my life, they still teach me daily, and their unconditional love and desire to be loved makes my life worthwhile.”

As busy as she is with her animals, she also makes time to be a loving mother. She has four great children: Zach Weiss and Megen Charboneau, who both attend Lady’s Island Middle School, and her eldest, Gene Weiss, who is a Marine, and eldest daughter Ashley Charboneau is her right hand at Tabby House and will be heading into the Army.

Jess came to Beaufort originally with her first husband, who was in the military. After they were divorced, she met her new husband, George Weiss, through a mutual friend online.

Says Jess, “After a year of communicating electronically, we finally met in person and haven’t been apart since. We just celebrated our seventh happy year of marriage.” George is an engineer under government contract at the air station.

Jessica loves Beaufort because of the history of the area and the big-hearted people here.

Says Jess, “The history that permeates this area is amazing. There isn’t any place that doesn’t have a story, or two. And there are wonderful people here that will take the time to tell you everything you want to know, even where some of the skeletons are buried. Most recently I’ve been amazed by the community spirit and outpouring when someone is in need.”

What’s her philosophy behind her work at Tabby House? “You get what you give,” she says. “This not only applies to the cats I work with but also to all the volunteers who make Tabby House work. I don’t like to be called the boss, I won’t ask anyone to do anything that I haven’t or won’t do myself. Listening to people and observing the cats and doing what is best for everyone is how I try to work.”

She adds, “I’m thankful for the existence of Tabby House, which would never have happened without so many wonderful people advocating and donating.  And the families that have opened their hearts and homes to the nearly 300 cats that have been adopted from here since Tabby House opened its doors 15 months ago, they are extremely important to us!”

She encourages everyone to visit the Tabby House Facebook page. “Pictures say so much more than words. You can see these on The Tabby House Facebook page. Every cat has their story and some are heartbreaking while still inspiring. The most impacting ones have been those that I lost but I know they had the best few months of their lives and I take comfort in knowing I did everything I could for them.”

The ongoing success of Tabby House is dependent totally on donations and volunteer help. Jess says, “Right now, Tabby House is looking for help with a couple of large projects that we are in serious need of completing. We need to raise more than $2,000 to have a washer and dryer hook up installed in our building (we already have the washer and dryer) and we need a 6×12 or 10×10 storage shed as we have no room to store extra supplies on site. We are open to suggestions from the community and ask that if anyone knows of local businesses that participate in community giveback programs or outreach, please let use know via Facebook messaging. It is only with the help and support of you that we can continue to find loving homes for these fabulous loving felines.”

As for the future, her dream is to create a feline “Safe Haven.”

Says Jess, “I have this dream where unwanted feral cats can have a home and where cats with disabilities will be safe and spoiled, as well as a special building just for FIV/FIP positive cats to live out their natural lives. This will be a multi-layered facility and I’m already connecting with like-minded people on the eastern seaboard who want to do the same in their states. This won’t be any time soon, but it will happen. If you are interested in helping that dream grow and become a reality, please contact me.”


If you would like to visit and adopt a wonderful cat, Tabby House is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. At Tabby House they also sell T-shirts as well as artwork and crafts made by local artisans. Please call 843-255-5030 or 843-255-5031.

People can donate directly at Tabby House or ask their personal vet if they take donations. Another option is going to the Low Country Community Foundation’s website and clicking on Tabby House, those donations go into a fund to pay the building bills (rent, water, electrical). Money donated directly at Tabby House goes for food, littler, and medical needs.

Or you can mail donations to Tabby House, Suite 13, 2127 Boundary Street, Beaufort, SC, 29902.

They are always in need of volunteers. They  currently need people who can help on Sundays, Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. On Facebook it’s “Tabby House” under places

At Tabby House they fully support the TNR (trap-neuter-return) program here in Beaufort County and will take information to pass along to local trapping groups. Although Tabby House cannot take your cat(s) directly (and they ask that you please not leave cats in front of the building) they will do everything possible to arrange to get your feline taken care of.  Just call and leave a message, or ask them on Facebook. Tabby House reminds you to please microchip your cats, even if they are intended to be inside, as they do sneak out and can get lost.  Please call Beaufort County Animal Shelter Office at 843-255-5010 about getting your cat chipped at a great price, it only takes a few minutes and there is no down time for your pet(s). The county shelter is at 23 Shelter Church Road (Between the Marine Corps Air Station and the Drive-In Movie Theater) off U.S. 21.

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Steve Mix: Beaufort’s ‘Mr. Nice Guy’

By Lanier Laney

I was fortunate to have firsthand experience of Steve Mix’s kind heart by watching him in an emergency medical situation. He’s truly a Good Samaritan, and he and his wife Vicki have been great contributors to what is “Best about Beaufort.” It was an honor for me to do this interview.


What do you do in Beaufort?

Steve and Vicki Mix

Steve and Vicki Mix

Steve Mix works part time at Beaufort Memorial Hospital in the Rehabilitation Services Department, and also manages several real estate properties downtown.

Where were you born and raised?

“I was born in Chicago, but raised in Beverly, Mass.; Charlotte, NC; and even the small town of Bethune, SC. My wife and I lived in Rocky Mount, NC, before moving to Beaufort 21 years ago.”

Who are your parents?

“My parents are Joe and Lin Mix.  Many people know my dad as he owned and worked at Island Outfitters on Lady’s Island. Many locals enjoyed coming to the store to buy hunting and fishing supplies, or just stopping in to talk about such. My mom could be found playing tennis down on the city courts while dad operated the store!”

Where did you go to school?

“I went to Duke University (Go Devils!) and graduated in 1980. My wife, Vicki, is a graduate of UNC-Wilmington.”

Where did you meet your wife?

“I have been very happily  married since 1983 to the former Vicki Landing of Rocky Mount, NC. We met at an apartment complex, two doors from each other,  when she was teaching school and I was working for Planters National Bank.

My wife is currently not teaching, but is a teacher and media specialist and has taught Pre-K though the eighth grades.”

What made you decide to move to Beaufort?

“My parents moved here in 1976. I was entering college, so I never officially lived here until my wife and I moved here in 1993.”

Do you have any children?

“We have three children. Our oldest, Caroline, is married and practices law in Washington, DC. Our middle daughter, Gracyn, lives in NYC and is an actress.  Our youngest is Austin Mix, a senior at Beaufort High School. All the children enjoyed growing up here in Beaufort and the two oldest come back as often as they can to visit.”


What other businesses have you worked for?

Steve ran the Beaufort Butterfly Shop downtown for more than 17 years. He said, “I enjoyed all the locals and tourists who would stop by the shop.  I have collected butterflies and moths since I was a young child, and although I don’t collect much anymore, I still speak to garden clubs and school groups on occasion about my hobby, and I remain a member of the Southern Lepidopterists Society.”

What led to your current occupation?

“Several years ago I decided it was time to close the Butterfly Shop. I have always enjoyed working with people and helping people out when I could. I decided to try out something new. I got my EMT license and found I enjoyed working with people with medical needs. I was fortunate enough that this has lead me to be currently working with the rehab department at Beaufort Memorial Hospital.”

What do you like about your job and area of work?  

“I have always enjoyed working with people. I like making people laugh and feel good about life.

Beaufort Memorial Hospital provides quality health care with a heavy dose of smiles. Many of our patients come back just to visit and some even bring food!”

How would you describe your spouse? 

“Vicki is the rock of our family. She makes sure the kids work to their potential and has tried to teach them to think about people other than themselves. She is very involved with family and friends, and is quick with a laugh or a sympathetic ear. Vicki is a leader too, and very good with children in the classroom. Students remember her teachings and personality through the years, often stopping her around town to catch her up on their lives.”

How would your spouse describe you? 

Says his wife Vicki, “Steve is a wonderful person and lots of fun! He is well known in the community due to his fun-loving nature and his ability to wash dishes! He had a job in college as a dining hall dishwasher, and ever since then, he has washed the dishes at home and many a dinner party, too. We always laugh that we get invited to dinner parties due to his expertise at dish washing!

He is also a great father and has been very involved in the children’s lives. When the girls were young, he started the father/daughter club “The Indian Princess’” through the YMCA. Steve’s Indian name was Chief Royal Walnut (after the Royal Walnut moth) but all the club members just called him ‘Chief Nut’ — he always liked that! If you need a smile or a favor, Steve is there to help you out. He is a great husband, father and friend.”

What do you like most about Beaufortonians?

“I think Beaufort is a very friendly place. I find that people living here are very accepting of newcomers.”

What is one of your favorite hobbies?

“Butterfly collecting! In the warmer months our house has Tupperware containers full of caterpillars munching on leaves.” (Now that is a new use for old Tupperware!)

What charities or nonprofit organizations are you involved with?

“I have been involved in leadership roles in the Boys & Girls Club, the YMCA, the Sea Island Rotary Club, AMIkids Beaufort, and First Presbyterian Church.  My wife is a past board member with the Beaufort Memorial Hospital Foundation, and we have been actively involved with the Beaufort Memorial Hospital Valentine Ball, co-chairing and hosting dinner parties, and well as dancing on the dance floor each year!”

What are your favorite sports?

“I enjoy watching all sports, especially Duke basketball, and, as of this year, Duke football, too!”

Vicki and Steve Mix are honorary chairs of this year’s Duke Symphony Orchestra Fundraiser, which will be held Saturday, March 22 at 7 p.m. at USCB Center for the Arts. Proceeds will support BMH’s Healing Arts Program at the Keyserling Cancer Center and the main hospital. General admission tickets are $35. To purchase tickets, visit or call 843-522-5774.

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The Fordham behind Fordham Market

By Lanier Laney

I interviewed Angus Duncan Fordham and here are his answers, in his own words.

My name is Angus Duncan Fordham.  To most I am called Duncan, as my Dad was also Angus. Now that I have been blessed with the senior reaches of adulthood, I am equally known by Angus. Angus and Duncan reflect my Scottish heritage. My mother was a McLeod so I am very pleased with my bloodline and having three tartans to fashion someday in the next millennium.  The Fordham linage heralds from England and I am equally proud of another European heritage.

Angus Fordham and his wife Sally with their two grandchildren, Ada, 5, and Mariah, 7.

Angus Fordham and his wife Sally with their two grandchildren, Ada, 5, and Mariah, 7.

My mother was a McLeod-Chandler, the Chandler clan being from Boston.  The Chandlers were  maritime sailmakers from way back and outfitted many of the sea going vessels of the time.  In a factory in New York City and later Savannah, Ga., canvas products were fabricated not only for the maritime trade but also for the military during the Civil War, and World Wars I and II.  (One great-grandfather was making tents for the Union Army and the sheiks in Saudi Arabia while my other great-grandfather wore the uniform of the Confederate militia.) The first canvas bases in major league baseball were fabricated in this factory.

My McLeod grandparents lived on the farm in Seabrook where granddad was a second generation farmer. He was a vegetable farmer and grew many varieties and shipped his fresh crops up and down the entire Eastern seaboard. He was followed by three more generations of family farmers. Today, many of the old barns and buildings still stand in disrepair, but they are a reminder of the glory days of Lowcountry truck farming.  My mother was born in the wonderful home that my cousin still lives in and he and his family completely renovated a few years back.

My father, Angus Fordham, Sr., was born in Alamo, Ga., and settled in Beaufort in the 1920’s. Angus was the first in his family to attend college after a friend lured him to Clemson A&M to play football and baseball. As jobs were scarce at the time during The Great Depression, he first worked in North Carolina. Wanting to return to Beaufort, he ran for the Superintendent of Education position and was pretty surprised when he was elected, but now indeed had a job. As an Army reservist, he was called for WWII and left for the Pacific Theater and ended his Army career in 1945.

He returned to Beaufort and in 1946 opened Fordhams hardware store  downtown.  He and his brother Mark operated this enterprise for more than 40 years. That same year, dad was talked  into running for the office of mayor of Beaufort, a position he held for 17 years.

I was raised in Beaufort along with ‘the best sister in the world’, Marjorie Fordham Trask. She still lives in and takes loving care of the family home on Bay Street. Grandfather McLeod purchased this home in 1910 because Grandmother Hope wanted to leave the farm and move to “the city” and live on Bay Street where she could watch the occasional horse carriages pass by.

The Beaufort river was our playground where we spent our time bogging, sailing and swimming from the dock in front of the house across Bay Street.

I attended all 12 years of grammar and high school in this town. I always had a job at the hardware store.  One summer, my main duty was to sit in the front window on Bay Street and operate the big display of Lionel trains.  There were fun occasions when I would work on the Seabrook farm with some of my cousins. (The farm pay was also much better!) A good memory was at lunch time when all of us “hands” assembled in the country store across the railroad tracks and dined straight from the wood box on salted smoke herring along with oversize no taste soda crackers. The fine dining was complete when we reached into the big glass jars and were treated to a Johnny Cake.

My first loves were the river and hunting in the plentiful fields and woods.  I was gifted my first 13 ft. bateau powered by a 7 ½ hp Scott-Atwater on my 10th birthday.  I kept this boat down on the river shore on Bay Street.  There were usually about a half dozen small boats tied up here belonging to local crabbers. My boat was the easiest to spot because it was the only painted one in the group.  Back in that time, even as a little guy, when I got home after school, I would load my motor and gear and head down the river, never telling a sole where I was or headed. That is the way it was. The culture then would bring gasps today. I owned my first shotgun and .22 rifle before 10 years of age and a 9 shot .22 cal. handgun probably before 15 years, and my own automobile at 16.

I graduated from The Citadel in 1962.  My major accomplishments there were, one, survival and graduate with my class; and two, a member of the undefeated Citadel rifle team NRA Intercollegiate, SC and Southern Conference championships.

Soon after graduation, I had my first real job, a platoon leader in the U.S. Army. I am proud to have served two years in West Germany with the U.S. Army’s Fifth Corps and in the Army’s  Ready Reserve for a total of six years.

In the mid-1960s, I joined my family in the hardware business. In 1969 we opened a second location when my brother in law, Paul Trask Sr., built the Beaufort Plaza Shopping Center. We had a good run here for over 20 years, our store located next door to the Winn-Dixie.

During this era, I met a beautiful young lady, a dairy farmer’s daughter from Anderson, SC.  Sally was teaching  third grade in Beaufort and I am still blessed with her presence after 45 years of marriage.  We are further blessed with two wonderful daughters — Amy, who is Curator of Visual Resources in the Fine Arts Department at the University of Louisville, and Amanda, who has our two magnificent little granddaughters Mariah, 7, and Ada, 5. Our son-in-law Liam is a career Naval Officer. They live in Virginia.

Sally and I attend the church I was reared in, Carteret Street United Methodist Church, where Sally sings in the choir.

When I returned to Beaufort as a young man, I was typically “tagged” into a multitude of civic activities. Notably to me, I am a past president and a Rotarian for 49 years, and also was delighted to be a past commodore of the Beaufort Water festival.

In 2003 a local realtor brought me an unsolicited sales contract to sell the hardware store property at 701 Bay Street. I was pleased with the offer and the thought of exiting the business world and at least semi-retire was extra pleasing. With mixed emotions,  I closed the doors of the family business after 57 years only to find out later that there was not going to be a sale after all and I had a 16,000-square-foot empty building.

At the suggestion of a business friend and with assistance from a business consultant, I reopened the building in 2004 in the name of Fordham Market.  My business plan was to lease space to medium to upscale retail business, local artists and artisans. We have been in operation for 10 years now and our slogan says it all, “A World of Shopping Under one Historic Roof.” We now operate with a fine coterie of tenants and staff.

Downtown Beaufort is a great place to do business. It has a dynamic pulse of retail business, restaurants, art and professional people.

There have been some slow times over the years but nothing like what some writer penned recently,  that Downtown Beaufort was once “almost a ghost town with boarded-up store fronts.”  This is not accurate.  I know because I have been here. One reason we have weathered the likes of recessions is our pristine location. Downtown is completely surrounded on one side by magnificent antebellum homes and on the other side by the Intracoastal Waterway.

I have retreated to my second story office and hope that our community leaders will continue to make the right decisions for this pearl of a town.

I will end with this thought: Until the day that this town finally bites the bullet and removes the parking meters downtown, we will never reach our final destination and goal as a totally unique experience in shopping, dining and visiting in a beautiful historic waterfront town. Parking does need to be monitored and that can be done here because it is simple and done all over the world.

And, as for a proposed building (or plural) near the downtown marina, I know council will consider, “why build just because there is a place to build?” This area is part of the “pristine” I just mentioned. In fairness, I look forward to seeing the plans being proposed.  The good reputation of these planners precede them and they could be convincing.

As I near my fourth quarter and my joints need more assistance, I have thoroughly enjoyed this experience. I am now ready to pass my keys on to the next generation — or maybe to someone who will have some fresh new ideas for this Queen of the Sea Islands!

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