• Beaufort Lifestyle Magazine



Photography by JOHN WOLLWERTH

Beaufort born and raised, Martha “Jodi” Joye, has competed in hundreds of marathons and triathlons since 1998. What is amazing is that she didn’t start until she was 40. Of those, 20 have been Ironman events, including the most coveted in Kona, Hawaii.
Jodi started swimming on the team at Parris Island when she was 6.  Colonel Smunk was the team coach for military and civilian children alike, and practice was at 6 a.m. and every evening. Jodi remembers that “There was lots of discipline! Mom was a devoted momma, driving me everywhere. There were lots of competitions and I had walls of medals and trophies. There were lots of local families on the swim team. I stayed on the team til momma got tired of driving me, although her story is that I wanted to quit, when I was thirteen. Then I played basketball, tennis and softball. Momma thought ball was boyish so I concentrated on the tennis where I was always in the top ten.”
Having received her B.A. in home economics and interior design from Georgia Southern University, Jodi started working with decorators on Hilton Head. “Interior design proved not to be my passion, so working with my mother in various businesses seemed to be the easier, softer way.” Learning from the bottom up, she remembers “I was instructed to bring my own lunch and I got in the van and worked right alongside the group that cleaned houses, even though my mother owned the company. It was not an executive desk and office position.” Over the years, her multitude of experiences eventually led her to open her own real estate firm, Charles Street Realty.
Consistently in good physical shape, Jodi started riding bikes in 1989, but she had no idea then that it would become her avocation. Rather, her training for Ironman in 1998 started out as therapy after a heartbreak. “I needed a focus and a good friend was in Ironman, he was persuasive. Terry Butts was a pro Ironman and one day he advised me to get on his program. Well, I did. A friend, Kate B., had completed an Ironman and her photo was in the newspaper, which I found inspirational.”
“My first competition was in Panama City, FL in 2001 where I did the half Ironman.  The half Ironman means that you swim 1.5 miles, bike 56 miles and run 13.2 miles. Jodi recalls, “It was a tahoe full of 3 friends heading into the unknown. This race started it all for me! I competed in Panama City for ten years in a row, doing two to three other Ironman a year, plus other races. I placed second in 2003 and finally first in 2006 in Brazil. The first place athlete didn’t take her Kona slot so it rolled down to me… Yeah! Tears of Joy! These victories allowed me to qualify and compete in the World Championships in Kona, Hawaii in 2003 and 2006. Talk about some athlete! Other great Ironman experiences were in New Zealand, Austria, and Arizona.”
The Ironman competition began in 1978 in Hawaii when three endurance events were combined: the Honolulu Marathon, the Waikiki Rough Water Swim, and the Around-Oahu Bike Ride; the winner was to be named “Ironman.” The Kona Ironman is the Ironman World Champion and the most coveted competition as the entrants have to qualify in another sanctioned Ironman event or by a lottery system. It’s very difficult to qualify for Kona as approximately 70,000 people try and only 1700 of those do qualify, plus the lottery winners. This is considered the most challenging one day sporting event in the world!
Ironman competitions are triathlons comprised of three components: swimming, biking and running. They start out with a 2.4 mile swim, then a 112 mile bike race, followed by a 26.2 mile run. The competitors have 17 hours to finish; statistically men can finish in 8 1/2 hours and women closer to 9 hours. “When the swim begins, 2500 to 3000 people hit the water at the same time!” Jodi says, “I get in front; my coach said ‘People are your friends.’ He wanted me to remember not to stress out, to remember that I would find my own spot. It’s difficult not to feel anxious when people are kicking you as they swim but you can’t panic, you have to let your body go, because the stress will make your legs cramp.” For Jodi, the running is the most difficult part because it’s such a long distance.
Although there is lots of support all along the way, the athlete is physically on their own. Preparations are made days in advance with bags packed and strategically left in transition areas, bikes are checked, racked and locked. After the swim, the competitors go to the transition area where they get out of their wet suits, shower, get into dry clothing, helmets on, get their bikes, a drink and they’re off on their bikes. After the bike ride, it’s transition again and another bag for the running clothes, shoes, food, suntan lotion or whatever is required for that leg. It’s necessary to get into and out of the transition area as quickly as possible; the race is not won in transition. Of the three legs, Jodi says “Swimming is my favorite, biking next, but the race is won in the run.” It is not inexpensive to compete; it costs $600 just to sign up for an Ironman. Then there are the travel expenses for transportation, hotel, meals, bike transportation, clothing and equipment. A bike can cost anywhere from $2,000 to $16,000.
Although Jodi has not participated in a full Ironman since 2011, she did a half last year in Augusta, GA. She says “ It’s a spiritual thing for me, it’s not like any other race.  I miss it, I don’t know if I’ll do a full again, but I’ll definitely do a half. I don’t race to finish; I race to win.” Another aspect she enjoyed was the travel; she went to most of the competitions by herself. “Brazil was special for me because that was one of the places where I qualified for Kona. I was so excited to win that I remember chanting as I was coming in, ‘Pain is temporary, Glory is forever.’ When I went to New Zealand, it was a ten day trip, of course it takes about a day to just get there. It was wonderful to get to experience all the different cultures.”
One of Jodi’s current endeavors is her new business, Charles Street Realty which she started in March of this year, “I had to reinvent myself. I was running the office where I worked before with my mother and brother, so I had to learn to sell again. I needed to get out and see what I’m made of – I had always worked with my family. I’m so proud of myself, I’m doing really well. I specialize in working with buyers; I’ve been in this business since 1989, I’m a broker/owner.”
When not working or training, Jodi just likes being at home. “I love being at my house, it overlooks the marsh and feels like I’m in a tree house listening to the birds and thinking of all the yard work that I need to do. I enjoy fishing and catching crab off my dock while getting to know my new family when they visit. I am a step-mother of three, Cameron, Zacharey and Paige. I also have a grandchild, Riley, who brings her own fishing rod to sport her independence. When they are not here, and my husband is still trying to finish up loose ends in Summerville, I work, workout, eat, watch tv and movies. I’m an animal lover. I’ve always had chocolate labs but my husband and I will eventually add a Boykin Spaniel to our family, and we’ll name her Penny Lynn. All my pets have had double names, it’s a Southern tradition since I grew up as Martha Jo.”
Jodi is a poster woman for happy endings. She got married for the first time in June to Lynn Mcpherson; they met on match.com three years ago.  “I feel like I’m just starting my life, I have a husband, a company and a new relationship with my dad, Carl Wilbur Joye. I’m building many relationships and it’s an encouraging future for me. Changes are difficult and scary but with a leap of faith, one will succeed. I am going to see for myself what I am made of. Love, business, and personal changes have led me astray. Ironman has been my savior and I want to get back into it. People compete between the ages of 18 and 80 so it’s never too late! I don’t know what old means.”


Photography by SUSAN DELOACH

Beaufort’s own pro golfer Mark Anderson made the news in May with his first professional golf tour title win, which took place in Greenville, South Carolina.
Anderson had joined the Web.com Tour (formerly known as the Nationwide Tour) in 2010 and in his first year he had three Top 10 finishes. The next year he had four Top 10 finishes and made the cut on the Money List to qualify for a PGA Tour card. On the PGA Tour in 2012, he made 13 out of 25 cuts and one Top 10 finish but returned to the Web.com Tour for the 2013 season. The BMW Charity Pro-AM was his 60th start on the Web.com Tour.
“Former South Carolina University player Mark Anderson won the BMW Charity Pro-Am on Sunday May 19 for his first Web.com Tour title, closing with a 6-under 65 at the Thornblade Club for a five-stroke victory. The 27-year-old Anderson had a tournament-record 27-under 259 total, the third-lowest score in relation to par in tour history. He opened with a 63 at The Reserve at Lake Keowee, added a 67 at Greenville Country Club and took a one-stroke lead Saturday with a 64 at Thornblade.” From www.espngolf.com:
Beaufort Lifestyle caught up with Mark and asked him about his first win on tour. He said, “It was nice! It was a huge weight off my shoulders to get this first win. And it was nice to get it at my home state.” He said “I had played two of the courses before so I knew them well.” As to going into the final holes with a sizable lead, he said, “I felt like I was playing well and it felt good to have that lead.”
Anderson now ranks seventh  in Money Leaders on the Web.com Tour, the Top 25 at the end of the season automatically get their PGA Card, which means they will move up to the PGA Tour next year. Anderson says “It feels nice to be in a good position and I am excited to play in the last tournaments of the year.”
After the season ends,  Mark will get a little downtime and he says he likes to stay active in the off season. As befitting a Beaufortonian, he says he loves being on the water, and notes “I have been paddle boarding for three years and now everyone has one so it has really caught on.” A new venture is to combine fishing and paddle boarding so you may see him reeling one in while on the board! Recently married, he says, “My wife and I like to bike.” And they enjoy all the great bike paths and routes throughout the local area. And because this is the Sporting Issue, Beaufort Lifestyle just had to ask what pro teams Mark roots for, and he replied “I am a Panthers fan and an Orioles fan because I grew up in Maryland. The Orioles make it hard sometimes but I still root for them!”
All of Beaufort is rooting for Mark Anderson as he completes the last tournaments on his tour and aims to regain his place on next year’s PGA Tour. Good luck Mark!

Photography by SUSAN DELOACH

Hundreds of people turned out to meet and greet former USC Gamecock star and now NFL Detroit Lion rookie, Devin Taylor, recently on a sunny June afternoon. Picked as a defensive end by the Detroit Lions in Round Four of the NFL draft, Taylor will soon be leaving the lowcountry and making his home in Detroit. About the new phase of his football career he said “The biggest change is transitioning from college to pro coaching style, but once you get used to it, it is very simple.” He said he hadn’t had much chance to explore the Motor City but he had toured Ford Field, where the Lions play when they are at home, and said it was “very impressive.”
Taylor and his family were there to show their appreciation to the community for all the support Beaufort has shown to Taylor over the course of his college football career. His mother Sylvia Cuyler said, “We are really grateful to have the opportunity to thank all the people who supported Devin while he was at USC.” His sister Demeka Taylor said, “Devin has always wanted to give back to the community and we wanted to have a fun day, especially for the kids.”
Everyone had the opportunity to tell Taylor how much they have enjoyed following his career and he shyly thanked everyone for all their support. Unassuming and gracious, Taylor posed for photos, signed autographs and spoke to all his friends and fans. Little ones in Gamecock regalia barely reached the six foot seven inch athletes’ knees but they gazed up in awe at a true Beaufort superstar.
During a break from posing for photos Devin said he enjoyed being in Beaufort and having the chance to give back in any way he could. Onlookers were impressed by Taylor’s effort to show his appreciation. Roland Gardener said, “It’s great for Beaufort that he came back and said ‘thank you.’ That says a lot about his character.”
Nikki Williams said, “We are all so proud of Beaufort’s finest, Candice and Devin, and I think Devin is a very remarkable young man who represents hard work and great parenting.”  Imani Miller said, “I think it’s good for the community, and seeing everyone come together is wonderful.”
When asked if she was looking forward to going to Michigan to see her son play, Sylvia Cuyler laughed and said, “I am gearing myself up for that! But we are really up for the season and taking it as it comes.”
All afternoon Taylor was busy signing autographs, saying hello to old friends, and obliging all requests for photos. Gracious and unhurried, he had time for everyone, even posing with a tiny baby girl in his arms, to the delight of her parents. Poised on the brink of his professional sports career, but grounded in the principles of hard work and humility, Devin Taylor made it his business to truly show his appreciation to the people of his hometown.  That’s what “Devin Taylor Appreciation Day” was all about.

Photography by PAUL NURNBERG








Dick Geier, President of Friends of Hunting Island State Park, is a man with a vision and a take no prisoners attitude; if there is a job to be done, he will get it done. Like past presidents before him, and the 800 families that comprise the Friends of Hunting Island, he is working tirelessly not only to save Hunting Island from being reclaimed by the sea, but also to make sure it is maintained and preserved for future generations.
Developed as a State Park in 1935, Hunting Island is a treasure in the South Carolina State Park system, and a gem in the treasure chest of Beaufort County. Of the 47 state parks in South Carolina, Hunting Island is the single most popular of them all with more than a million visitors a year.  Hunting Island State Park faces a myriad of issues, both as a barrier island, and a park in a system that doesn’t have funding to preserve it. That’s where the Friends of Hunting Island step in.
Dick Geier explains, “The Parks, Recreation and Tourism Service has been given the requirement that the parks be self-sufficient; the entrance fees should sustain operations. South Carolina has 47 state parks but only 10 of them generate more income than the cost to maintain them. As such, revenue from Hunting Island State Park contributes significantly to the operations and maintenance of the other parks that don’t have adequate visitor admission fees to support themselves.
“Hunting Island is the only undeveloped public barrier island in South Carolina. Erosion and shifting sand is a huge problem. In 2006 the beach was re-nourished; in 2007 groins were put in to slow the erosion progress. The beach needed 9 groins but there was only money for 6; the Corps of Engineers predicted the re-nourishment would last for nine years, but that was based on nine groins. Due to the constant erosion, the turtle nests are threatened, the rental cabins have all been washed away except for one by the lighthouse, and the loss of the cabins equals loss of revenue for the Park. People come to the campground to walk on the beach and beach comb but they can’t walk the 4 mile length of the beach due to the uprooted trees that block it at high tides. If we keep our hands off the beach completely and let nature take its course, in 75 years, Hunting Island may not exist at all.”
“Friends of Hunting Island (FOHI) started in 1993 by a group living on Dataw Island when they volunteered to help the park staff with the turtle program. There’s no staff  assistance any more, it’s all volunteers, 110 of them. They go out every day at 6 a.m.  from May until September to take inventory, DNA samples, and mark and protect the nests from predators. Last year those volunteers put in 5000 hours!”
Other programs that FOHI supports are maintenance of the 8-mile trail system; the donation of half of the money for the classroom at the Nature Center; protection of the campground and picnic areas with dune building which is stabilizing the sand hills with native plantings for reinforcement; twice yearly beach sweeps and daily picking up trash left behind by visitors and campers. In association with other volunteer groups, FOHI has been building oyster habitats on Hunting Island for seven years; in 2012 the group effort put out 530 20-lb. mesh bags of oyster shells to form a reef.
Volunteers teach at the Nature Center, and each month the calendar is full of wonderful programs that include walking tours, kayaking, pier fishing, lighthouse climbs, cast net throwing, and informative talks about alligators, owls, woodland birds, and secrets of the salt marsh. Arts and crafts projects are ongoing for all ages.
Dick is quite enthused also about the “Discover Carolina program that brings 3rd, 5th, and 7th graders to state parks to educate them about the natural environment. To date, hundreds of students have visited Hunting Island, and some of them have never been to a park, or seen a maritime forest before. The park system charges children for the entrance fee, so FOHI pays that for them. Now we’re keeping an eye on whether the school system may want to be reimbursed the money for transportation.”
Some of the issues that are on FOHI’s agenda and/or wish list are rebuilding the light keepers cottage, which was destroyed by fire in 1938, and make it into the visitor center. The roads always need repair, as does the fishing pier. Dick would like to raise local awareness of all the programs and opportunities the park has to offer and part of that is through a city A-tax grant to give park passes to all the local tourist establishments for their guests.
Dick brings broad experiences to his position as FOHI President. Retired from the Army, he worked in higher education in the Pacific Northwest. He and his wife Denise, came to Beaufort in 2008; their son, Chris, is an attorney here. His affiliations include: Clemson Senior Leader Program, Master Naturalist, member of the American Legion Post 9, Association Board of Directors at Battery Point, Board of Directors of Help of Beaufort, Day Leader – Turtle Program at Hunting Island; sport fishing and kayaking are among his hobbies.
Park Manager Daniel Gambrell came to Hunting Island in January of this year from his position as Park Manager at Sesquicentennial State Park in Columbia, SC. He’s thrilled to be here, and on the beach, with his wife, Jana, and new baby, June. “I’ve worked from the mountains to the sea! As a kid we did a lot of camping in state parks; that’s where I got my passion.”
The Park Managers job is complex and multifaceted. The SC Parks, Recreation and Tourism description is, “The Park Service is entrusted with the care, preservation and interpretation of more than 80,000 acres of South Carolinas most valuable natural, cultural and recreational resources. Many people are not aware of the investment and care required to manage these properties. The men and women who protect and manage state parks are as valued and important as any natural, cultural or recreational asset of the Park Service. They are charged with the awesome responsibility of upholding the Park Service philosophies of Stewardship and Service. The task of being a better steward of our resources is a tremendous challenge when you consider the invitation to millions of park users each year to enjoy our parks. Park Manager is the highest-ranking position at the park level.”
“As a barrier island, Hunting Island is constantly changing, so we’re always trying to adapt to those changes. It’s important to protect the resources in the park while allowing visitors to utilize them.” It’s a bit of a catch-22 as Daniel explains, “The park exists for visitors to enjoy, but at the same time we must balance the level of use to protect the resources.”
Daniel explains that he would like to see “People come back to the campground for their yearly vacations. Many campers never leave the campground and go to the pier, the lighthouse, or the nature center, so it would be nice to initiate new and exciting programs at the campground as well as at the nature center, and maybe move some of the programs from the nature center to the campground. One big success we have at the campground now is game night.” Daniel encourages people that have never been to Hunting Island to come and explore the recreational and educational opportunities that await you.
Daniel’s stewardship of the 5,000 acre park is more footprint by footprint, making sure it is carefully tended and protected on a daily basis, while Dick Geier’s and FOHI’s goals complement that with broader resources to make the joint visions cohesive. “What an amazing group of volunteers we have here. Without FOHI we would not be able to maintain the park in the way we do.”
With a Degree in Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management from Clemson University, for the past thirteen years Daniel has worked in the South Carolina Park Service at Edisto Beach, Dreher Island, Santee, Devil’s Fork and Sesquicentennial State Parks. He is an avid outdoorsman and enjoys fishing and hunting during his spare time.
There are all sorts of special events going on at the park in addition to those on the Nature Center monthly calendar. Daniel’s stewardship extends over the park programs and he thinks that these are some of the highlights:
The first of January is  the Pelican Plunge, where the brave and hardy go running into the cold Atlantic Ocean.
In the spring, there is a Women’s Coastal Skills Clinic where women participate in twelve educational, hands-on programs and experience an oyster roast and a sunrise lighthouse climb.
An annual Easter Egg Hunt has about 250 families that join in that much beloved children’s event.
Summer brings a highly creative Sand Sculpture Contest in July.
At the Nature Center, Mark Adams, Amanda Wood and Mitchell Helms can tell you all about what goes on island-wide. They will introduce you to Buddy, a diamond back terrapin which is the only reptile that lives in the salt marsh. Buddy is about twenty years old and lives in the nature center because ghost crabs chewed her toes off so she can’t live in the wild.
They also possess a wealth of information about the pier such as: there is an artificial reef under the last 300 feet of the 1120 foot long pier, and red drum in particular like to school up there. It is a great place for catching all sorts of fish including sharks: hammerhead, bonnet head, black tip and sharp nose. There are also southern flounder, sheepshead and sea trout waiting to be someone’s dinner. A benefit to fishing from the pier is you don’t need a fishing license! Your park pass or entrance fee takes care of that and you can borrow tackle at the nature center so all you need is bait.
Ask Mark about fishing stories and “the one that got away” and he’ll tell you about the yellow fin tuna that was caught once from the pier but had to be released. He is also fond of telling visitors, “You’re standing on 400 million old dissolved mountains,” because the sand at Hunting Island was once part of the Appalachian Mountain chain.
Some of Amanda’s favorite annual events are Pirate Day, Dr. Seuss’ Birthday and Halloween. She is also quite pleased that there are 4 penny machines in the park – at the pier, visitors center, lighthouse and campground.
Mark your Calendars for the Sand Sculpture Contest on July 20th starting at 10:00 a.m. at the Lighthouse Beach.
Also note the Volksmarch on October 26, 9:00 – 3:00. This year instead of the annual 5k run, will be a different sort of event – a Volksmarch which is a German term for “Peoples Walk.” It will begin at Johnson Creek Tavern, enter the Park at the campground and follow the trails to the lighthouse, the beach and back to Johnson Creek for refreshments. Bring children, neighbors, pets , receive a medallion and have a great day!

Story by CINDY REID  Photography by JOHN WOLLWERTH


While we swim or boat on the beautiful Beaufort waterways, we are typically enthralled with all the gorgeous nature around us. We notice the soft lights and muted colors of the marshes and the long legged birds that navigate more gracefully then we ever could with our kayaks, canoes and outboard motors. It is a pleasure to the eye to be on these waters. We are so occupied observing what is on the surface that we usually ignore what lies beneath us, below the water, under the muck and mud.
Diver and artifact hunter Lauren DeLoach has been looking below for many years. And not just looking- he has been finding historical artifacts since he was 12 years old. He still has his first find, an amber John Ryan cider bottle that sits among the many other antique bottles he has brought up from below. Growing up in Port Royal, Lauren says when he was a young boy he would “walk on the banks of the marsh and find a lot of bottles. Trash had been dumped on the riverbanks back then and you could poke around and find these bottles easily. That’s how I got interested in collecting them.” He says, “My mother would drop us off in front of ‘The Castle’ on The Point and we would drop a rod into the mud. Sure enough, we always found something down there.”
He says, “The old guys that fished along the shore line had them in their houses, and even rolling around in the bottom of their boats. You could always find something where all the old docks pilings were.”
A natural water man, Lauren also tried his hand at finding food below the surface.  “When I was 15, I had fifty crab traps during the summer. Edward Caesar, who made crab traps, gave me a little job and so I learned how to make them. I made mine myself, and I crabbed for three years.” Lauren thinks about for a minute and says, “It is a hard way to make a living.”

It is also hard, if not impossible, to accumulate the kind of collection Lauren has assembled from his underwater finds over the last forty years. Collectors may spend years purchasing what they desire but Lauren has spent decades finding his artifacts underwater. He has bottles that date from the early 1700’s on past the Civil war, some predating the rice plantation era, some predate America.  He has Dutch glass bottles, mallet and English onion bottles, (which refer to the bottle shape), big bottles and little bottles. In Lauren’s collection are some of the rarest of these bottles, ones that have the initials of the owner stamped on them. Lauren says, “The initial markings were to circumvent the King’s tax.” (They are called sealed bottles because they have an applied glass seal, a molten glob of glass that has been stamped with words, initials or symbols, on side of the bottle.)
Not just aesthetically fantastic, his antique bottle collection offers the viewer a way to grasp a bit of our past. “History” is such a dry word but when we can hold an everyday item that was made and used hundreds of years ago we have the opportunity to make a physical connection, to get a real sense of the people who were before us,before they became our “history”.

Lauren says “I started looking for fossils around 15 years ago, after old bottles became scarce. I was in the Morgan river and found two teeth on my first dive and that’s how it started.” He is too modest to add that he has since become one of the more successful fossil divers in the area.
The Megalodon shark was the largest of the prehistoric sharks; in fact it was the biggest predatory marine creature in the history of the planet. It’s body could reach lengths of 65 feet and its teeth could reach over seven inches. Lauren says, “Just think, when these big sharks were here, Beaufort was under 400 feet of water”.
Megalodon shark teeth are the prize to find, and for various reasons, the lowcountry is one of the very few places in the world where these massive 7-20 million years old teeth can still be found. As Lauren says, “The bigger teeth come from this area, they are out there in the deeper holes.”
Diving for Megalodon teeth in the lowcountry means you are blackwater diving, which is pretty much what it sounds like, which is diving without any light.  In addition, the diver has to contend with strong currents, tricky tides and the ever present alligators. This kind of diving is not for the amateur, and even the most expert diver may not make it back to the surface. In 2004 Lauren’s dive partner Vito Bertucci, one of the best known shark tooth divers in the world, died while on a dive with Lauren. This cannot be stated strongly enough- this is dangerous diving and not for the novice.
Megalodon teeth are not the only ancient finds Lauren has brought up from below. His fossil collection includes teeth from ancient giant sloths, wooly mammoths, petrified tree roots and many other amazing items. Something as simple as an oyster shell is incredible for its twelve inch size.
When asked if he was able to summon the memory of where he obtained everything, Lauren said, “Oh yes, I almost always remember where I found something.” From the care taken with his astounding collection, it’s easy to see that he would indeed remember. Lauren says at some point he and his wife Robbie plan to donate some of their more important pieces to museums so all will have a chance to  enjoy them as they have.

Creative Life
Lauren met his wife Robbie in Columbia, SC at an antique auction, and they have been married 21 years. They raised two children, now grown, Matt and Anna. They moved to the Lowcountry in 1991  and opened Bellavista, an antique shop, in downtown Beaufort in 1993. Their second store, What’s In Store, opened in 2000 on St.Helena Island.
They moved Bellavista to St Helena Island in 2006 and opened a third store, Octopuses, on St. Helena in 2006.
In 2006, Lauren and his wife were badly injured in a motor vehicle  accident on their property in North Carolina. His neck was broken extensively and he went through numerous medical procedures and surgeries. After being told by his doctors he would definitely never again dive, in fact he would be lucky to even walk, he said, “Give me a year and I will be back in the water.” Fourteen months later he was diving.
Lauren says his passions are diving and painting. “I like to stay busy. I don’t feel right unless I’m being creative.” He says, “I also love painting, I draw inspiration exclusively from Beaufort waterways, sounds and beaches. I like to paint people on the beach and water birds from photographs taken by my wife, especially the ones taken down at the Rookery in Port Royal.”
He adds, “When I head out in the boat early in the morning I am always reminded how fortunate I was growing up in such a beautiful place. I think it is like God gave us this giant buffet of beauty and nature in the lowcountry. And all we have to do is reach out and take part in it.”


Story by CINDY REID  Photography by SUSAN DELOACH

Beaufort Lifestyle caught up with Commodore Dan Thompson and First Lady Bonnie Thompson at the Henry Chambers Waterfront Park on a perfect Beaufort afternoon. Under a beautiful blue sky we settled down for a chat about the upcoming 58th annual Beaufort Water Festival. The team of Commodore, Coordinators, Directors and over 400 additional volunteers  puts on one of South Carolina’s premier festival events right here in Beaufort.
The events start with the co-ed softball tournament held in May and continues with various sporting events such as golf, horseshoe, bocce and youth soccer tournaments, sailing regattas, and a Family Fishing Tournament. The week of the Water Festival kicks off with the Opening Ceremony on Friday July 19 and runs through Sunday July 28 when it ends with the traditional Blessing of the Fleet.
Traditions play an important role in the events but the Water Festival stays current by adding new and exciting events from time to time.

What is new or different at this year’s Beaufort Water Festival (BWF)?
This year we are partnering with Dragon Boat Beaufort, which helps raise money for cancer survivors, with their dragon boat races, which will be on Saturday July 20 from noon to five o’clock. We will also be holding our Non-Profit Expo on Saturday July 27 from 12 – 4 in the park.

One of the Commodore’s many tasks is to design the popular annual tee shirt. Tell us about this year’s tee shirt design.
We wanted the tee shirt design to depict the festival and its events. Local artist Mary Thibault created and painted the design for us and she incorporated the raft race, the air show and even the Whistlers! Mary “collaged” the design elements and really captured our vision.

How long have you been involved with the BWF?
The First Lady Bonnie and I have been volunteers with the Water Festival for thirteen years.

How did you first get involved?
I first got involved when I was Reserve Police Officer with Port Royal and I was asked to help out with security for the Street Dance in 2000. (Dan has been a Reserve Police Officer for the City of Beaufort, also a volunteer position, since 2000)

Why did you continue as a volunteer with the BWF?
Our daughter was getting older and we felt this would be something good for us to get involved in as a family, which it certainly has been.

What is your BWF favorite memory?
Last year at Kids Day I brought our 50 pound Sulcata Tortoise Elvis to the park. All the kids were drawn to Elvis! They just wanted to touch him and have their picture taken with him.

What is your favorite event ?
I actually have two favorite events, Kids Day and the Toad Fishing contest, and both for the same reason. There is nothing better than to see the wonder and excitement on a child’s face when they win a prize or catch their first toad fish. But all of our events are great, we really have something for everybody. Our goal is to have a quality event for a reasonable price.

What entertainment do you lined up for this year?
The Parris Island Marine Band will be playing on Friday July 19. Local musician Chris Jones is coming back and country music artist Chris Cagle is our featured artist for the Concert in the Park on Saturday July 20.

Tell our readers something they may not know about the BWF.
Most people don’t know how much tourism the Water Festival brings to Beaufort. Folks come from all over and plan their vacation around the Water Festival! Also people may not know that part of our charter is to assist other festivals, and our equipment has been used at the Port Royal Softshell Crab Festival, Lt Dan Weekend and the Gullah Festival.

Where were you born and raised ?
I am from Detroit, Michigan. I joined the Marine Corps right after high school in 1983.

Tell us about your family.
I met my wonderful wife, Bonnie, who was also a Marine, while we were both stationed 29 Palms, California. We have been married for twenty eight years. Our daughter Amanda was born at Beaufort Naval Hospital in 1989.

How did you come to live in Beaufort?
Our last duty station was Parris Island in 1987. I received an Honorable Discharge from the Marine Corps in 1991 and went to work for Hargray Communications where I have been employed for the past twenty two years. First Lady Bonnie is a massage therapist at Island Wellness Shoppe on Lady’s Island.

Anything else you would like to add?
I would like to thank our many volunteers, civic groups and non-profit organizations who are very important to the production of the Water Festival. Equally important are our sponsors because without them the Water Festival would not be possible. Thank you!

For further information: http://bftwaterfestival.com/

Story by Barbara Kelly  Photography by Richard Darby


The ancient Chinese tradition of dragon boat racing has become  the world’s fastest growing water sport. International racing clubs exist in more than sixty countries and it is estimated that over 50 million enthusiasts participate in the sport each year. It should therefore come as no surprise to learn that Coastal Living’s Happiest Seaside Town, 2013 also boasts its own winning team, DragonBoat Beaufort (DBB). And that this summer, DBB will host Race Day, an exciting new event, during the 58th annual Beaufort Water Festival.


Over 500 competitors, many from out-of-town, and their cheering fans will join hundreds of spectators on Saturday, July 20th from noon to 5pm at Waterfront Park. As the dragon boats race on the Beaufort River close to the sea wall, everyone will have a great view of the action. Local and out-of-town 21-person teams can look forward to a fabulous event with formidable competition, a terrific party and a celebration of cancer survivors, all benefiting The Water Festival and the cancer survivor programs of DragonBoat Beaufort.
DragonBoat Beaufort a mixed cancer survivor/supporter team is constantly recruiting new team members and supporters.
Dragon boaters come in all ages, shapes and sizes.
Anything but a maudlin group of people commiserating over their challenges, this team is an amazing group of high-energy,
high-spirited individuals who are determined to fulfill DBB’s two-fold mission: To heal and regain physical and psychological strength and wellness through teamwork, camaraderie and competition and to raise funds to assist local cancer patients with needs they are unable to meet.
On May 4th , DragonBoat Beaufort raced in the Charleston Dragon Boat Festival and jumped from last year’s  participant class G to  class C. The enthusiastic team brought home gold and silver medals, beating their cousins, mentors and rival – Dragon Boat Charleston (DBC). DBC was the subject of the 2012 Beaufort International Film Festival’s award-winning documentary film, “Awaken the Dragon” that inspired the creation of Beaufort’s amazing team a year and a half ago.
I recently spoke with two members of the team who are cancer survivors. For ten years, Mary Ann Thomas battled a devastating form of breast cancer with all manner of treatments, beginning when her son was a small child.  She spoke frankly about how difficult and frightening those years were for her as a single working mom.
An unintended side effect of her treatment was damage to her heart and dragon boating has become a big part of her physical and mental conditioning. As a cancer survivor, Mary Ann feels an obligation to help others fighting this disease.
While vacationing in Paris after her recovery, she fell in love with her husband Jeff, who went on to purchase the Cuthbert House (Bed and Breakfast) as a retirement project. They were later married in the courtyard and continue to live happily ever after post-cancer.
Mary Ann’s journey is an inspiration to all of us, especially to Jeannie Wells, one of our newer team members. Diagnosed with lymphoma before Christmas, Jeannie began paddling while still in treatment. Although weak from her final round of chemo, she reports being ready to return to practice and plans to help with Race Day. Jeannie loves being out on the river and finds it healing to be among people who have undergone similar experiences themselves or with loved ones. Many team members have posted their stories on our website http://www.dragonboatbeaufort.org/team.html
The carnation ceremony, a tradition at dragon boat festivals with mixed survivor/supporter teams, will be held  at 2:30 on Race Day in memory of fellow paddlers who have lost their battle and in celebration of friends and family members who are still struggling with cancer. The positive response from the crowds observing the carnation ceremony last year at the Blessing of the Fleet was so overwhelming that this year, carnations will be available for the public to toss into the river as a tribute to loved ones.
If you enjoy fierce competition, crazy costumes, music, food, and the energy of hundreds of dragon boaters and wish to support a poignant community outreach effort please consider joining us as a sponsor, or as a corporate, neighborhood or friends’ team.  Each team should consist of 20 paddlers, one drummer with three alternates. As hosts, DBB will provide the boats, a steersperson, life jackets, and paddles on Race Day and during team training prior to the Festival.
All team members must be at least 14 years of age.
This year will be all about fun as we train the newbies to the beat of the dragon drums. Next year the serious competition begins.
To become a part of the first DragonBoat Beaufort Race Day, click the link on our website to let us know if you’re interested. Your office, department, company or friends will have a BLAST!
To donate, sponsor, organize teams, or to volunteer at Race Day, please call (843) 575-5542 or visit our Race Day website at www.raceday@dragonboatbeaufort.org.
Membership applications are available at our website: www.dragonboatbeaufort.org.
Come ride the dragon – whatever your role. Be there when the dragons invade Beaufort on Race Day!


Photography by JOHN WOLLWERTH

In so many fields we, the consumer, see the sum of the parts but have no idea whatsoever, how they all came together to create something that pleases us; just think of all the individual flavors that constitute a bottle of wine, or a delicious summer salad, or mouthwatering barbecue sauce. Beaufort is a hot spot for creativity, both traditional and non-traditional. We probably have more artists, musicians, and creative people here than regular folk. With all the natural beauty that abounds, it’s no wonder inspiration strikes those so inclined to ply their craft.
Terry Brennan is a master of creating something out of practically nothing, or nothing that most people would recognize as an artistic component. He makes three dimensional animals, wildlife, and sea creatures out of driftwood and all sorts of recycled materials. It may be easy for some to see that a rake makes a pretty good rooster’s comb, or a mop as a horses tail, but that’s only when we can see the sculpture as a finished product. As a child, Terry liked to solve the puzzles in Highlights Magazine where you find the hidden elements in the picture – like the shovel disguised in the bark of the tree. In his sculptures, the elements are hidden in plain sight and challenge the viewer’s visual acuity because some of them are just so unexpected, such as a stiletto heel as the center of a fish, or spots on an animal that are actually poker chips.






Raised in New Jersey, Terry always liked to draw when he was a small child. “I’ve saved a drawing I did when I was three. My mom taught me the alphabet by drawing the letters to look like animals – ‘D’ was a turtle. I thought everyone could draw, I didn’t realize it was any special talent. When I was in seventh grade, I briefly considered mechanical drawing as a career because it seemed that I should do something that used my skills. When I was in tenth grade, my family moved to Dillon, SC and at that time murals on walls were very popular. I had a teacher who got me involved in painting murals in school hallways and cafeterias, which I really enjoyed. After high school I moved to Myrtle Beach where I worked in a sign shop and waited tables. It was there at Hooters, that I met my wife Wendy.
“I was trying to find a career that would suit my interests and my talents so I did a stint at Horry Georgetown Technical College, where I studied golf course management. Being a student had never been one of my strong suits and the introductory class there had nothing to do with golf course management, it was boring math. Once I realized the teacher took attendance at the end of class, I would go shoot pool, gamble for money, and slip into class during the last ten minutes so I could be counted.”
With that career option out of the way, Terry, Wendy and her two little boys moved to Savannah so that Terry could go to the Savannah College of Art and Design. “When we got there, I found out that the tuition was huge! Wendy, who makes friends with everyone she meets, met an antique dealer in Savannah who wanted someone to paint furniture for him; so I learned to paint furniture with different finishes. At the same time I got a job at the Savannah Mill Works where I learned more about woodworking; I was the radius guy! Both of those jobs really helped my creative side. But when we went back to Myrtle Beach for Christmas, our house in Savannah was robbed. I just couldn’t get over the feeling that the robbers knew just who we were, they’d seen photos of our family and since we had called the police I was concerned that they might try to keep us from finding out who they were. I just wasn’t sure that the family was safe so we moved back to Dillon. I had enjoyed the job at the Mill Works so I went to work in a cabinet shop in Florence where I became a master cabinet maker. I still wasn’t making enough money to support our family the way I wanted to so I went back to painting murals. People could understand the dollars per square foot they would spend for a mural better than they could understand the price of a painting.”
There were only so many murals that needed painting in Dillon at that time so Wendy and Terry opened a coffee shop; after a go at that, then they put the skills he had acquired as a cabinet maker and furniture painter together with his innate artistic sense and opened an antique store. “The antique store was exciting, we would buy pieces at an auction and put a little love into them and make some money. But then 9/11 happened and that was the end of that.” Meanwhile, Terry was painting. “I always did small paintings, they had pictures inside of pictures, parts inside of a part; I liked the discovery inside of a drawing. All humans love discovery; simple games are built on that premise, and my art is also.”
Terry’s work experiences took him to all sorts of places with a great deal of variety. He drove a potato chip route for a bit, moved back to Myrtle Beach where he waited tables and worked in another sign shop where he sandblasted signs – all of these pieces of his life added dimension to his creativity as an artist. After the death of his mother, Terry’s father and sister moved to Myrtle Beach and as a family they started their own business, the Artist Tree Studio, where they made signs, painted furniture and murals and sold art. About this time, Terry branched out into making sculptures, “I’ve always liked sculpture so I made a fish out of pieces of left over stuff. I let the random shape mimic the shape of the fish and then I painted it with bright colors. I wanted to power through the instinct of an object. I started to realize how fun and diverse the sculpture creatures were to make, how everyone is different. In the beginning I made fish, because all people connect with sea life. There’s not a place where fish don’t find their way in. So for that reason I’ll always make sea life, there are so many species. You wouldn’t think that something made out of coat hangers and broken toys would resemble a fish!” Terry explains how his pieces take form: “It begins with an instinctive shape. The pieces have to have a relationship to each other in each object; they must tell a story rather than just be a random assemblage.”
The Gallery on Bay Street in Beaufort showcases Terry’s art, and gallery owner Deanna Bowdish is one of Terry’s greatest fans. He has also done installations for the past three years at Art Prize in Grand Rapids, MI, shown at One Spark in Jacksonville, FL; he has demonstrated his technique at Artworks in Beaufort, and on Spring Island where people brought items and Terry fashioned them into sculpture while they watched. Recently Mayor Billy Keyserling gave American Idol winner Candice Glover a key to the city. Billy asked Jery Taylor, a local basket weaver, to make the structure of a key out of native bullrush; she affixed the bullrush to cardboard to stabilize it. Billy gave the key to Deanna, who gave it to Terry to paint a marsh scene in the center. Fox News captured the moment when Billy presented that basket to Candice and Terry’s art was there for everyone to see.
Just as he found the hidden objects in the puzzles he liked as a child, Terry sees the form, creativity and potential in every object he comes across. He can envision it in it’s natural form, or deconstructed and reworked to become something all together new and different. Connect with him on facebook at Artist Tree Studio and see where his vision takes him next.

Photography by SUSAN DELOACH

Joel "The Kid" Garrett

If you listen closely these days you can hear the sound of a youthful current running through town, a vitality that is keeping Beaufort from becoming just another sleepy Southern beauty. It runs on energy and fresh ideas, which Joel Garrett, a local radio broadcaster and station owner, has in abundance.
Actually, Joel  has enough energy to power his own station. He is a high voltage kind of guy, one who talks in exclamation points accompanied by big grins. And his drive and entrepreneurial spirit, fueled by a love of his profession, are a perfect fit for
Joel Garrett is affectionately called “The Kid.”  He got this nickname early in his career.  Joel  was only 15 years old when he started in the  business.  He has been bringing music to folks ever since.

Radio Man

When asked why he chose radio, Joel says, “I can’t do anything else!” At 27 years old, he has over a decade of experience in his field.  And, while he may not be able to do anything else, he has proven that he can do radio exceptionally well.
Originally from Austin, Texas, Joel got interested in radio while still a teenager.  He says, “I was 15 years old and I walked into a place to get a haircut.  While I was waiting, a girl said ‘do you know so and so.’  But I was new to town and didn’t know anyone so she introduced us. The guy worked at the local radio station and I was invited to come and hang out. I was there! I would go along to remotes, help out at the station, all unpaid. They had a staff meeting and someone complained about how the tee shirts were being folded. Someone else spoke up and said ‘oh, that’s this kid, he is just hanging around, we’ll send him home, ‘and the station manager said, ‘When you have a kid who has been willing to work for free, you don’t send him home, you offer him a job!’ So that was my first job in radio. ”
He continues, “When I was seventeen, I paid my own way to a radio conference in Los Angeles.  I met a guy there who had a station in El Paso, Texas. We talked and the next thing I knew I was hired. I was always looking for the next good thing.”
Little did Joel know at the time, but that travel expense was probably the best investment he ever made.
After moving to El Paso, Joel  was hosting  a morning show in a Top 100 market. The ratings for the local station began to soar. This was the beginning of something big.  With ratings on the rise, other stations in the area began to take notice of this energetic  young  man.
One of those stations, owned by Clear Channel Radio, called and offered him a job as a Program Director.  They moved him to Midland-Odessa, Texas and he began working at KRMK(FM). “At 18 years old, I was the youngest Program Director in the company, “ Joel says, adding with a laugh “Of course, who else would want to go to Odessa, Texas except a kid eager for the job!”
Joel continued to work his magic.  Upon his arrival, KRMK was ranked eighth in the market.  In less than a year, the station was ranked number one.
Again, Joel found himself being sought out by other stations.  Three years later, Cumulus Radio hired him.  He was quickly deemed their “Fix-It Man.”  Cumulus would send him to markets where their stations needed some attention. He would usually spend 6 months to a year to rejuvenate the station and then move to another location.  Joel says, “This gave me an opportunity to see new places.  I was never made to go, I was just given the opportunity.  I liked the challenge.  It is a lot more fun to raise the Titanic than it is to keep it afloat.”
From the age of 15 to 23, Joel had worked in stations spanning 5 states: Texas, New Mexico, Louisiana, Arkansas and Arizona.  Next stop, South Carolina.


Joel had aspirations of owning his own station one day.  He and two coworkers hired a broker, and the search to buy a station was underway. The broker found a station for sale in the Lowcountry, an the trio traveled to South Carolina to take a look.
He says, “I had never been to South Carolina before three and a half years ago when I went to Hilton Head.” Joel and two partners bought a Hilton Head radio station in 2010.
National recognition came to Joel while he was at Hilton Head. He was named one of the “30 Under 30” by Edison Research, a major media research company, in the broadcasting field. “The honorees included on-air talent, programmers, Chief Engineers, station owners, syndicators and sales managers.”www.edisonresearch.com .  Joel says, “Top 30 under 30 is a contest Edison Research did to find the Top 30 Radio people under 30 years old in the country. Nick Cannon from “America’s Got Talent” was in the same group of 30 that I was in that year.  We were honored at one of the largest radio conferences in the country in Baltimore.”
Joel says, “Hilton Head was fun for a couple of years but I found myself gravitating to Beaufort. Everything I really liked was in Beaufort.  My first experience in Beaufort was fantastic.  I had been asked to come over from Hilton Head to help judge a talent show put on by J.W Rone at ArtWorks.  I was highly impressed with the local talent and the professionalism by the folks over at ArtWorks.”
After that, Joel was hooked. He began spending more time in Beaufort, coming over and hanging out with the locals.  He became determined to find a way to break into the Beaufort market on a more permanent basis.
As luck would have it, an opportunity arose.  “The Galloway’s owned a local AM station here.  We started talking with them and they had recently gotten approval from the FCC to have an FM signal, which was 94.5 and would be the only local station in Beaufort,” says Joel.  The partners saw this as a perfect opportunity and purchased the station.
Joel’s love for radio began to shine even more.  He fell in love with Beaufort, and with this new station. He began to see this station as a permanent situation for him in what he had found to be his new home.  So, he made a deal with his partners and sold his shares of the Hilton Head station to become the sole owner of 94.5.


Joel "The Kid" Garrett







Beach, Soul and Rock-n-Roll

From their website……. “Beach, Soul and Rock-n-Roll. Beaufort, SC has a new radio station that is sure to make you sing along in the car and take a walk down memory lane. Hits from the 60′s 70′s 80′s. Get the most from the Coast! Dust off the shag shoes. Stroll down memory lane. Move to the Motown Music and Rock to the classics. We are playing what you want to hear most at 94.5 The Coast! Playing the hits from the 60′s 70′s and 80′s.” www.945thecoast.com
Joel says “I did a lot of research and what I found was that Beaufort is completely different than other small markets. Beaufort wanted more beach music, not less, and a lot of Motown, and familiar feel good music.” He programs all the music himself and, when asked if he personally prefers more contemporary music, he shakes his head no and says, “I grew up listening to this music with my parents while we were boating- I love the music we play. Some of my favorite artists are Van Morrison, Willie Nelson,
Jimmy Buffet, Robert Earl Keen and Kenny Chesney.”
One of the pleasures in having a local station is tuning in and hearing your friends and neighbors doing their own radio spots.  Always keeping it local, Joel likes to use new voices for his spots, sometimes even pulling in folks who have stopped to say hello and check out the station. ”If someone has an interesting voice, I love using them here at the station.” he says.

The station is located at Habersham, at street level in the market area. Passerby’s can look right in the big picture window and watch the on air people at work. Joel says, “I looked around and Habersham had a good, fun but peaceful feel and great people.”
Joel is located at Habersham as well, as he has an apartment directly above the station. He says, “I love it here. It is a community within a community. And it’s only ten minutes to downtown Beaufort.”

Beautiful Beaufort

Being part of the community is important to Joel, as he says “We are happy to do anything that helps out, and we get to be involved with all the charities, fundraisers and festivals. The great thing here is that 90% of the money raised goes directly to those who need it.” Being a sociable guy, he laughs and says, “A lot of the things we do for the Coast I would be participating in anyway.”
“It is easy to make good relationships here, Beaufort has culture, it has history and it has beauty. I love Beaufort, I have fallen in love with Beaufort and I am really happy here. I love being on the water- I’m a boater- I try to take one weekend day a week to golf or boat.” He pauses and thinks for a minute.
“You can be yourself here in Beaufort, and people have treated me great. Good people, good karma”.

Photography by JOHN WOLLWERTH

"Big Frank" Waddell






Standing at a height of 6’6” “Big Frank” Waddell commands attention as well as space. With a certain astute thoughtfulness, Frank reveals himself piece by piece, often with an oblique sense of humor. When he sings the songs he has written, you can watch the feelings play across his face as he reminisces about his travels and life experiences. As he says, “A big part of playing is the emotion that goes into the music. I have songs that will bring a tear to your eye, they bring a tear to my own eye.
“I love story songs; one of my favorites is Stand on God’s Word. I met  a woman sitting in a rocking chair and she told me about her life: Her mama died giving birth to her and her daddy held it against her. Her daddy got drunk a lot and was mean to her. She spent time in church to escape him. One day she got a Bible and hid it under the floorboards in the house. When her daddy yelled at her she would stand on that part of the floor over where the Bible was hidden because, in church, the preacher had told the congregation to ‘Stand on God’s word,’ and she took that literally.”
Frank grew up in Greer SC. After high school he joined the Air Force where he was in aircraft maintenance until his retirement in 2004. Since then “Big Frank” has been traveling the world writing songs, telling stories and bringing joy to all who listen. It didn’t start out that way; “I grew up singing lots of gospel music in church choirs. But when I was a little boy I didn’t want to sing, I wanted to play ball. My mother was reading the paper one day and she saw an announcement for the Kiwanis Boys Choir.  ‘I’m going to sign you up,’ she told me and my brother. My brother went into the auditions, I hid in the bathroom. He went outside afterwards and I followed him; my mother came to pick us up and he told her I had hidden in the bathroom. She grabbed me by the ear and took me back inside. The choirmaster played a note on the piano and had me sing the note, one after another. My brother and I both got into the choir. There I was – not wanting to sing, my mom made me go, and a month later I was singing on the local kiddie
television show!”
Obviously something about the music appealed to him because he bought his first guitar when he was sixteen. “I was in high school and working in the textile mill when I heard about this moonshiner who had an old guitar for sale. I drove up the dirt road of Glassy Mountain, and found him next  to a box of empty paint cans, spray painting a truck turquoise. I told him that I’d heard he had a guitar for sale, he went inside and brought it out. I asked him to play it then asked him the price. He wanted $27, which I had in my wallet. I gave him the money and he told me ‘This guitar has been on this mountain for a long time. I’ve owned it three times, the last time I traded a washing machine for it.’ Now that area is a gated community of millionaires.
“I taught myself to play, and I wrote my first song, Daddy’s Got Soul, for and about my daddy, in 1972. There were a lot of things about soul at that time; if you looked at soul as integrity and character, then my daddy had soul. I dedicated Mothers Day Song to my mother. The Christmas Miracle is a true story about when I was a boy at a 5 and dime or 10 Cent Store, as they were called, I realized I had only a penny left and still had not bought my youngest sister Jill her gift. Being Christmas Eve and I only had 50 cents to start with, I sadly put the penny in the gum ball machine and instead of the candy or gum falling out, a pin made of rhinestones laid out in cursive writing spelling ‘Jill’ came out.  I had it wrapped and gave that to her the next morning. There were six children in our family, but we didn’t get one musical thing from our daddy. My older brother is a career Minister of Music, my younger sister sings in church. When we were little, my sister used to play the piano and the other five of us would gather around and sing.” In the intervening years, Frank has recorded three CD’s that he calls “Family Folk,” which include many of the songs he has written about his family, his daughter Mindy, son Frankie, and grandchildren Parker and Sheldon.


"Big Frank" Waddell







Frank came to St. Helena Island in 2005,  “I came to the area from Charleston looking for a second home for a weekend get away. I fell in love with Lands End, wrote a check the first day I went there and closed two weeks later. For a while, I did keep a home in Mt. Pleasant, but after about a year I got rid of it and made St. Helena my home.”
With friends Carroll Brown and Michael Reno Harrell, “Big Frank” performed to a full theater this March in “Song Writers in the Round”  at Artworks in Beaufort. In that kind of setting, Frank explains that “I play whatever comes into my mind. It depends on whatever the others are playing, I don’t want people to cry at two songs in a row. I have a list of songs taped to the back of my guitar but when I’m sitting in the middle, bookended by two other musicians, I decide on the spot what to play next.” But you won’t find Frank singing his heart out to a room full of people who aren’t paying attention: “If I’m going to play and nobody’s going to listen, I’ll just stay home. I’ve got a nice Lazy-Boy recliner.  When you’re singing about your life, it’s humiliating when people don’t pay attention. I may sound like an old fuddy-duddy, but it’s different with age – you have to know how to enjoy yourself.
“I wrote a song, Let the Free Bird Fly, to which people in the audience in a folk club in Scotland just start to sing along in the final chorus. It gave me cold chills to hear one of my creations that they’re so into that they couldn’t sit quiet. I also like to play songs like Marty Robbins’ El Paso – I play a lot of stuff that other people don’t play any more. I’m part of a very large songwriters group in Charleston, SC.” Mostly he plays his own story songs, many of which are deeply embedded by scriptures once heard in those early gospel singing days, but he also favors writing Americana folk and comedy songs.  With a wry smile, Frank admits “A couple of years ago I wouldn’t sing karaoke; I thought I was too good for that, after all I was a professional singer! Then I met a woman who told me the only fun she had was singing karaoke. Because I had been judgmental and critical, I realized I could have a blast singing karaoke; now I look forward to it – I just have fun!”
Music is often the center point of Frank’s travels. Recently, Frank went to Branson, MO where he went to seventeen shows in seven days; and on a road trip to Alaska, he wrote four songs along the way. He’s played in Costa Rica, England, and Canada, but Scotland is one of his favorite places. Frank also has plans to play in a songwriters group this June in Nashville, TN in a venue similar to the Bluebird Cafe.
Comfortable with his many rich and varied interests and talents, Frank can often be found in the swimming pool at the YMCA when he is not singing or writing. He finds swimming therapeutic both mentally and physically. He says he “takes spells with cooking and reading;” a favorite author is David Baldacci and his taste in books runs towards history. However, in addition to his CD’s, Frank has also written a book about his family history which took him to three states for research and ten years to write. He is currently working on two essay collections of short stories entitled “If Old Guns Could Talk” and “If Old Guitars Could Talk.”
At home in the kitchen, Frank loves to describe his kitchen creations – he will put an assortment of whatever is in his cupboards into the crockpot and concoct a unique feast. His favorite television show is Gunsmoke; however, he says,  “When I was in the Air Force, everyone was sports oriented. I could watch game after game after game. But now in the second part of my life, I only watch football, baseball, or basketball in the play-offs, and NASCAR in the last ten laps.”
Someone who takes good care, Frank is not only thoughtful, kind, and generous, but also keenly observant. It is as if he digests his experiences and emotionally processes them until he can present them in a vernacular that is familiar and without pretense. Some of his songs are true, some are spiritual, some silly, others funny; and then there are those, that as the lyrics reveal themselves, make you feel like you are opening a gift. First and foremost a fascinating orator, “Big Frank” Waddell has a resonating deep baritone voice that is a joy to hear, whether sung or spoken.