• Beaufort Lifestyle Magazine


Trey Arant found his athletic calling very early in life. He is a wrestler, and a good one. “Some friends told me that they thought it would be good for me,” said Arant. “After a while of convincing I decided I’d give it a try and I’m going on six years now.”

His second year of wrestling was in 2009 in the 8th grade. That year, he placed second in Middle School State in the 125-pound weight class. That same year he took first in the Beaufort County Middle School Competition and the Green & Gold Qualifying Tournament.

He just got better from there. In his freshman year, his first year on the varsity squad, Arant was a 2010 Lower State Qualifier in the 145-pound weight class.

His sophomore year brought a collection of notable accomplishments, including 2011 4A State Qualifier, 2011 Beaufort Gazette / Island Packet All Area Team in the 145-pound class, and first place in the Dutch Fork Silver Fox tournament, among others.

As a junior, Arant made the Beaufort Gazette / Island Packet All Area Team again, this time in the 160-weight class. He took first place in the 2012 4A Region 8 All Region and again topped the Dutch Fork Silver Fox competition.

Arant has amassed an impressive overall record thus far as he goes into his senior year, with a record of 81-43 with 57 pins, 18 reversals, and 76 escapes. He holds the Beaufort High School record for the fastest Technical Fall, 19-3 in just under 2 minutes.

Arant is strong in the classroom as well. His senior year will include college preparatory classes that will help get some of his basic college work done ahead of time. He has dual enrollment at Technical College of the Low Country moving forward with his prerequisite courses.

When he’s not hard at work wrestling or studying, Arant likes to relax around the house, spend time with friends or his girlfriend of seven months, Erin.

“I’d like to major in psychology and hopefully get a doctorate in it someday,” he said.

“He’s never considered himself to be a great wrestler,” said his father, Melton Arant. “He just goes out and wrestles.” Dad thinks his son has a decent shot at a wrestling scholarship. “People like to go out and watch him wrestle just because of the way he wrestles,” he said.

A crucial point in Arant’s high school wrestling career came last December when he suffered a shoulder injury and really didn’t tell anybody. He wasn’t the same wrestler. He was unable to do many of the things on the mat that the coaches were accustomed to seeing him do.

Eventually, Arant complained of a strained shoulder. After the season ended, a medical examination revealed a torn shoulder which would eventually require surgery. He wrestled for two months with the injury and made it all the way to second place in state competition, nearly winning the state title. The competitor that beat him had already been a two-time state champion in that weight class.

“People watching him who know him comment on how focused he is,” said his father. “He walks out on the mat and he’s all business. You never see him taunting and you never see him talking trash. He wants to wrestle and he wants to have a good match.”

Arant had few losses during the regular season. The only wrestlers who defeated Arant last year were placers and state qualifiers. Some of these losses came when he stepped up to a higher weight class.He lost to several who were state champions in higher weight classes.

The goal for his senior year is clear. “I’m hoping to make it back to state and win this time,” said Arant. “Hopefully, I won’t be bothered by my shoulder surgery.”

His father has a right to be proud. “We watched him come into his own and become a very independent, very fine young man. There’s great coaching. He got it from wresting because of the discipline and training.”



It’s almost a reflex. You step through the door at the Goldon House Gallery on Bay Street in Beaufort and your jaw just drops. It’s unlike anything you’ve ever seen before – an aweinspiring collection of authentic Chinese antique furniture – everything from tables and chairs to rice bowls and a baby’s bath bucket, and so much more. It’s everything you can imagine and beyond.

Look around a bit more and you see original artwork by the gallery’s owner, Vincent Golshani. Golshani is a master with color and form. His paintings sell for many thousands of dollars and they are the most popular items in the gallery.

The Chinese antiques come mainly from the Three Gorges Dam area on the Yangtze River which flooded in 1954 and again in 1998. Millions of people were evacuated leaving behind a treasure trove of antiques. Golshani was one of only 37 dealers who were able to go into temples and homes and buy this furniture. These genuine artifacts are between 100 and 300 years old. The exact age or century of each piece is not always known but the gallery guarantees that any antique purchased there is at least a century old.

Your charming host greets you with a warm welcome. Her name is Morgan Starling. She is the general manager of this newly opened Beaufort location, dovetailing with the original Savannah gallery run by Golshani himself.

Golshani and Starling have known each other for about two years. “We said we were always going to open a gallery together and that I would be the general manager,” said Starling. “We would laugh about it. In December we finally made a commitment and here we are.”

Both Golshani and Starling have always loved Beaufort. “There’s nothing like this in the area,” said Starling. “We thought it would bring so much ‘edge’ to the street. We have a lot of customers around here.”

Starling said she doesn’t think customers really know what they’re walking into. “They just walk in and go ‘wow.’” Strangely enough, the customers coming through the door are almost all tourists visiting Beaufort. “We don’t do a lot with locals,” said Starling. She said that about 90 – 95 percent of her business is tourists. “We ship all over the country.” The same is true of the Savannah gallery.

Golshani’s paintings are all originals. He paints the first of a particular series and incorporates his trademark “face” image. He then makes seven copies of the original work but they do not have the face integrated into it, just a signature. Nevertheless, each copy is actually an original because he paints all the copies himself, so no copy is exactly the same as another. All art sold in the Goldon House Gallery is Vincent Golshani’s work. The art is the most popular of all the items in the gallery.

The Savannah location has a huge warehouse, complete with its own manager, and sends the pieces to the Beaufort gallery as they get them. Everything has been cleaned up but nothing has been refurbished. “If, for example, an item comes in missing a handle, we will replace that but other than that, everything is in the original state as Vincent has found it,” said Starling. Nothing has actually been in the flood itself. These items came out of their places before the water could get to them.

Starling’s interest in the gallery business stems, at least in part, from her own sales background. She was in dental sales for a year-and-a-half before coming to Goldon House. “I have a sales background, and I felt like in dental sales it was all about the numbers and meeting quotas,” she said. “I feel like we have something interesting here to sell to people. People leave here smiling; some leave here crying because they’re so happy with their piece of art or furniture.” Starling said her real motivation is that she likes to make people feel good and give them what they want. “It brings me joy to see people happy,” she said. “When they walk out of our door they’re happy.”

The Beaufort Gallery opened this past June 22. “It’s a place that I come to that I don’t consider a job,” said Starling. “It is a job but it’s a happy place for me. I get to meet people from so many walks of life and hear their stories. It’s very interesting.”

The prices on the antiques are incredibly reasonable. What you might pay for a similar modern piece will buy a comparable item in the gallery, but you have an antique, well made, in excellent condition, with 100 – 300 years of provenance. “We get that a lot from our customers that we’re on the low end of pricing. We’re happy to be able to make the customer happy.”

Interspersed throughout the Chinese collection are African artifacts, such as tribal masks and ceremonial carvings of animals, all authentic.

Golshani goes to China several times per year to buy his stock. “We are expecting a container in August that will bring between 15,000 and 17,000 pieces,” said Starling. “I think I get first pick since this is the new gallery.” Starling said she plans to select more pieces with color to them to lend some additional brightness and contrast to the new gallery.

As for the future, Starling says the plan is to expand the operation up and down the southeastern coast. “We just want to see it boom and then branch out to Charleston and Jacksonville and just keep opening galleries.

” The jaw-dropping, awe-inspiring experience awaits anyone who comes through the door at Goldon House Gallery. It’s almost like a trip to a small museum but the fascinating displays are for sale at reasonable prices. It’s a chance to own a genuine piece of world history or an amazing original painting that is a product of Golshani’s greatness.


In 1991 Debbi Baker Covington came to Beaufort as the bride of Vince Covington, her college sweetheart. Compared to Raleigh, NC where she had been living, moving to Ladys Island twenty-one years ago induced a state of culture shock for the vivacious Debbi. Her background was in advertising and her job in Raleigh had been in personnel management, so finding a job in Beaufort at that time was a bit challenging. However she settled in nicely to being the pastor’s secretary at First Presbyterian Church.

Then one day, the proverbial fork in the road presented itself. A lady member of the church had her seventieth birthday approaching and a party was being planned. Debbi offered to prepare the food, the pastor gave her a budget, and on June 1, 1997 Debbi Covington catered her first party and has been doing it ever since. For eight years she worked both at the church and catered events, but in 2005, decided to take on the catering full time.

Cooking is not just a job for Debbi, it’s her passion. She reads cookbooks instead of novels, she chooses magazines that focus on food, her food has been featured in Southern Living Magazine and Better Homes and Gardens Magazine. Debbi also writes the wildly popular column, Everyday Gourmet, in the Lowcountry Weekly. Not only have her recipes been featured in the Best Kept Secrets of the South’s Best Cooks cookbook, she published her own cookbook, Dining Under the Carolina Moon, in 2005 and her new cookbook Celebrate Everything! will be released this June.

For someone who cooks for a living, does she still enjoy cooking at home? “I like to cook for myself and Vince, I make dinner every night. I especially like to make salads, I make amazing salads!” As one who pays attention to every detail, she dissects what happens in a good salad: it should not be overdressed, it should have a good mixture of ingredients but not too many,” (And you will never find Ranch dressing on her list of ingredients). “You don’t want to have too much going on in one dish. All the different types of lettuces have a unique flavor; some taste peppery, tangy, sharp, or herby. Salad ingredients should focus on the season; for instance, in summer tomatoes should be a main ingredient because they’re fresh.”

How does she choose a restaurant when she wants to go out? “I basically choose the restaurant or the food that I can’t or don’t cook at home. I don’t cook fried foods so sometimes I just want fried chicken. I really like Paninis fire-grilled pizza, I go to the Foolish Frog for their wreck fish, I like the wonderful outside porch at Sweetgrass; I love to go out for breakfast because egg dishes are the messiest to clean.”

Is catering for so many people at all kinds of events really as easy as she makes it look? “Yes,” she replies. “Basically it’s a breeze for me because I love it so much. There are the few times when something unexpected happens, recently I catered a wedding and a family member made the wedding cake. The event was outdoors and it was very hot, the cake was really big and it started to lean to one side on the plate. I had to stuff cocktail napkins under one side of the plate to get it to look straight.” Crisis averted. When questioned further if there is some drawback, some pitfall, to so much cooking, Debbi initially demurs but finally admits: “Sometimes I have spent so much time with that food I just get tired of it. I choose recipes, make a list of ingredients, go to the store, choose the ingredients, put the food in the buggy, take it out and put it on the conveyor belt, get the bags out of the buggy and put them in my car, take them out of my car and take them into the kitchen. Then I take the food out of the bags, put it on the counter, put it away and then have to take it all out, assemble the ingredients, cook the food, pack the food, unpack the food, present the food and when that is over I have to pack up the leftovers. By then I may be tired of fussing with that particular dish; for instance if I’ve made chicken salad for 300 people, I just want a steak.”

Debbi is the quintessential gracious hostess and that is one trait that carries her through functions where she is catering for hundreds of guests. The fact that she has a quick wit and wonderful warm smile are also assets to any event, she knows how to make anyone feel instantly at ease.

What is the biggest event she has ever done? “At the Yacht Club, there were supposed to be about one hundred people for a party, but the guest list grew and about four hundred and fifty people were there. It was not only a challenge feeding them in that size space, but it also stormed that night so everyone was inside! All went well though, everyone was fed and had a good time.” What are her favorite events to cater? “Cocktail parties in people’s homes – they’re fun! Also fund-raisers because everyone seems so appreciative.” Where does she buy her food? “Locally whenever possible!” She goes to Publix for many things but “I buy fresh local shrimp and fish off the boats, and vegetables and fruit at the local farmers markets; I use a butcher for some cuts of meat because it is already trimmed and ready to cook. Fish that isn’t local, and difficult to find food items come from a food purveyor.”

The Covington’s home is so tastefully decorated that it looks like it should be featured in a magazine as well as Debbi’s picturesque food. Husband Vince’s expertise in his interior design business of window treatments gives every room just the right amount of privacy and takes advantage of the natural light. Unless you peek behind cabinet doors and can see all of Debbi’s assortments of serving plates, dinner dishes, wine glasses, pretty and unusual serving pieces and implements, all of which is what she collects, you will gravitate to the art. “When we first got married we bought art, we spent all our extra money on art!” Debbi exclaims.

Eagerly awaiting the delivery of her new cookbook Celebrate Everything!, Debbi reflects on her first cookbook, Dining Under the Carolina Moon. “I knew a couple of people who had written cookbooks, and I had been writing for Lowcountry Weekly for awhile so I had a small following. The book was selfpublished and all 4000 copies sold, but I didn’t think I would do another one. Then when my mother got sick and came to live with us, I decided maybe it was time to publish a new cookbook because she so encouraged me to do so; she was the foodie in the family and she was the reason I was initially interested in food. My original thought was to have a group of photographers take the pictures but I soon realized that logistically that wouldn’t work, so my friend Paul Nurnberg offered to do all the photography and I happily accepted. The way I got all my friends involved was to have them over to eat the food that I was featuring so I had parties that were photographed; there are forty of our friends in the book and I can’t begin to tell you how many dirty dishes there were!”

Celebrate Everything! is in hardback with 216 pages of recipes with accompanying photographs. It will be available on Debbi’s website: wwwcateringbydebbicovington.com and will be sold in various locations in Beaufort. Debbi is going to “Take some time this summer and focus on the book because in summer it’s too hot to eat anyway.” Several non-profit organizations such as Beaufort Film Society, Historic Beaufort, CODA, and the Lowcountry Food Bank are going to host book signing parties where they will receive a percentage of the profits; Debbi will also host Celebration parties of her own. With 27 chapters all illustrating a celebration of some sort, there are over 200 recipes, 99 percent of which Debbi says are easy to prepare. All the recipes are new in this cookbook with one exception and that is Debbi’s mother’s famous Sour Cream Coconut Cake; like many cooks, Patricia Baker had a secret ingredient in her cake. In Debbi’s first cookbook she published her mama’s recipe; Mrs. Baker sold her coconut cake at church auctions and raised a goodly amount of money for her causes. She kept telling Debbi to add a bit of black walnut flavoring to the cake and when Debbi finally did, she knew that little bitty one thing made a big difference. Also, Debbi confides, “Refrigerate the icing overnight, it will stick to the sides of the cake better.” If you want to know any more than that you will have to buy the cookbook. It took her eight months to write it so we’re not giving away any more of her secrets.

With a summer full of projects ahead of her and the cookbook on its way, Debbi’s signature good humor shines as she smiles and says, “The whole thing was just fun!”

His name is William M. Rhett III. He’s part of an amazingly talented, creative and business savvy family with deep roots in Beaufort.

Truth be told, he is actually the tenth William Rhett since his family first landed in the New World in 1694. The first, Colonel William Rhett, arrived from London to settle right here in the Lowcountry. Colonel Rhett is credited with capturing the pirate Stede Bonnett, also known as “the Gentleman Pirate.” His mother, Nancy Ricker Rhett, can trace her colonial roots all the way back to 1666 and Dr. Henry Woodward, the first British Colonist.

Rhett comes by his talents honestly. He is a fifth generation artist on his mother’s side and fourth generation artist on his father’s side. As you first walk in the gallery, you are met with what looks like an extremely well taxidermied pair of fighting gamecocks. In fact, it is a wooden sculpture, right down to its finest feathers. It is the work of Rhett’s father, William M. Rhett Jr. “It took my father four and a half years to do this,” said Rhett. It is an amazing piece–a must see. The majority of the original art you’ll see at the Rhett Gallery presents images of life in the Lowcountry over many generations. It is a virtual mirror of the past and present in Beaufort and the surrounding area. His mother, Nancy Ricker Rhett, is also profoundly talented as a painter and illustrator, as well as an author.

The Rhett Gallery in downtown Beaufort has been a landmark for many years. The work that is sold out of the historic building at 901 Bay Street includes fine original art from at least three generations, photography, antiques, vintage firearms, civil war memorabilia (much of it original), vintage guitars, and even real estate. “We wear many hats here,” said Rhett, who himself is a licensed realtor with Exit Realty of Beaufort. The gallery is also licensed to deal in firearms.

Rhett, 28, is an accomplished painter working mainly in watercolor, acrylic and oils. He particularly enjoys painting landscapes, birds and fish. The crisp realism is almost photographic. His work includes painting detailed watercolor images on ivory piano keys. As for the truly photographic, Rhett’s fiancée, Jamie Thompson, has a photography studio that’s an important part of the gallery as well.

The collectible guitar side of the business is one of Rhett’s personal specialties. After 20 years behind a guitar, he’s the resident expert. He plays lead guitar in a local band. The vintage guitar collection includes some of the best-known brands with some of the rarest models. There are vintage amplifiers as well. Recently, Rhett used his considerable skills to design the logo for the 57th Annual Beaufort Water Festival, July 13-22. The logo, titled “Sandbar,” presents a colorful likeness of activities of the festival at the popular Sandbar, including boating, an air show, and lots of celebrating. T-shirts, bumper stickers, cups and many other items are sporting the grand logo. “I don’t think anyone has done a close up of the Sandbar in the heat of summer,” said Rhett. “I really felt that was a great idea.” The theme of this year’s festival is “Sandbar Summers & Southern Nights.” The festival wanted a local artist, a native of Beaufort, to do his or her take on the festival in creating the logo. There is usually a competition. However, this year, the event’s Commodore, John Gentry, approached Rhett directly. “I was overjoyed,” said Rhett. “It was an honor to be asked to do it.”

“I decided to paint the Sandbar with everybody on it and Beaufort in the background,” said Rhett. “It took several weeks of planning just to get all my photographs together; the images to do the painting.” Rhett said his friends who frequent the Sandbar are diligently searching for themselves in the logo. “They say, ‘I’ve got to be in there somewhere. I know I’m in there somewhere,’” said Rhett. He also decided to put the names of some of his high school friend’s on the boats in the picture.

Rhett said he had to get a long lens for his camera and get everybody out on the Sandbar to get the photo images he needed to do the watercolor logo. The painting itself took a solid week and a half to paint and is the product of combining images from the hundreds of photographs he took. “Getting all the information together was harder and more time consuming than actually painting the logo,” he said.

Rhett, who paints in realism, stretched his talents to something a little less detailed and more festive. “I really had to change my style up,” said Rhett. “I did [the logo] more in an almost cartoon fashion.” Rhett changed his palette completely for the project. “Normally, I use a lot of earth tones,” said Rhett. “With this project, I went to a lot of fun tropical bright colors.”

Prints of the prized logo are now for sale in the gallery. Rhett waited about two months after the logo’s public release before making them available. “I wanted the Water Festival to have all the glory and selling the T-shirts instead of me also selling the prints in the gallery,” he said. The piece has been on the Water Festival website since its public release. “People are saying, “We don’t know who did it but we love it,’” he said.

The original of the logo is truly a Beaufort treasure. Rhett said he’s not exactly sure what he will do with it. “I may put it in the gallery and sell it, I don’t know yet,” he said. If it does go up for sale, don’t expect it to go cheap. “A lot of work went into that thing,” he said.

Greg Rawls moved to Beaufort in December of 2011, from Daniel Island in Charleston, because he says, “After thirty years of corporate America, I decided I had had enough and I wanted to pursue my glass art full time. I wanted to ‘reboot’, to change my surroundings and since I had always loved Beaufort, and my folks live here, I decided I would move here.” Making changes, “trying to get out of old ruts” as he puts it, led Greg to Leadership Beaufort, teaching at Artworks and …DragonBoat Beaufort.

The DragonBoat Beaufort involvement starts with Greg’s art. There is a lovely piece of glass art hanging in Greg’s kitchen which depicts a dragon and boat paddle. It was seen by a friend who asked if he was working with DragonBoat Beaufort. No, the glass piece was something Greg had created in reference to his involvement with a dragon boat team in Charleston. Greg had spent five years as part of a team sponsored by his previous employer, MeadWestvaco Specialty Chemicals. When asked how that started he says, “It was pretty simple, one day I got an email from the human resources department asking if I wanted to be part of a team they were putting together to participate in the first Charleston DragonBoat festival. I said ‘Sure!’” The team trained, they competed, and Greg says he had a great time and so when asked if he wanted to be team Captain Greg said” Absolutely! I loved being part of the team, I was hooked on it!”

But when he moved to Beaufort his involvement with the Charleston team had ended and he was concentrating on settling in and working on his glass art. Greg says he had missed the showing of “Awaken the Dragon” at the Beaufort International Film Festival and was completely unaware of the movement to start a dragon boat team in his new hometown. When the friend who saw the dragon boat glass art in his house asked if he was interested in being part of the Beaufort team he said “Yes, because there was kind of karma to it!” New home, new team- why not?

DragonBoat Beaufort-

No one in Beaufort had been part of a dragon boat team, so based on his experience Greg quickly became one of the two coaches (Kyle Faucher is other coach) and got right to work with his new teammates. Unlike the team, Greg was involved with in Charleston, the Beaufort team is a 50/50 mix of cancer survivors and their supporters. (Although many on the team roster are, you do not have to be a cancer survivor to be on the team.)

He says, “When I got to the first practice I saw a lot of people I knew. DragonBoat Beaufort is a great remedy, to take someone who has been through cancer, put it aside, get wet, and paddle together. Most participants find that ‘this is pretty cool’!”

Regarding varying levels of strength and fitness he says, “People wonder ‘Can I be good enough?’ and the answer is always ‘Yes. You are good enough.’ I tell our team to work on endurance. It is a 20 seat boat, the six in the middle are the power, but there is room for everyone.”

He says, “The people in Beaufort are amazing. It’s amazing that within 3 months of our first team practice, we competed at our first races at the Charleston DragonBoat Festival May 5th.”The most exciting news is the team has just ordered its own boat. He says, “Now we will have a boat, which was purchased through a combination of fund raising and matching funds generously provided by the Stewarts. The giving spirit in Beaufort is amazing and very gratifying. Boats cost approximately $ 16,000, which is a tremendous amount to raise in such a short time.”

Works of Art

Greg’s journey to becoming a glass artist started with a stained glass class twenty five years ago. He found a class and thought “Let’s try this out”. He says he made a few stained glass pieces and, “its fun but I am better at the kiln formed glass.” Started exploring and creating kiln formed glass 15 yrs ago. Kiln formed, or fused, glass is essentially art created by melting glass in a kiln. Unlike stained glass there are no lead lines used and most contemporary fusing methods involve stacking, or layering thin sheets of glass, often using different colors to create patterns or simple images. (wikipedia. org/wiki/Fused glass)

In 2012 Greg won the Cooper River Bridge Run design contest, with a glass art submission. His cheerful image of the “sunburst behind the bridge” graced 50,000 tee shirts and 2000 posters, and was seen all over the Charleston area.

“Once I got good enough to sell my pieces, I got into a cooperative gallery in Charleston, and from there I got into other galleries, including The Gallery here in Beaufort.” Deanna Bowdish, owner of The Gallery says, “Innovative, fun, fresh and unique, Greg continues to amaze me with the intricate patterns and techniques he uses in his fused glass art. His incredible sense of color sets his work above the rest. One cannot help but smile and feel the sense of pride Greg puts into every design. Whether he is creating a one of a kind glass sculpture, a functional bowl or making his newly designed fused pendants supporting DragonBoat Beaufort, Greg loves what he does and it shows.”

Recently Greg designed and created two different fused glass art necklaces for sale as a fundraiser for DragonBoat Beaufort. One is a beautiful square of dark glass with a subtle dragon design and is available in a variety of color combinations; the other is also a square and has a unique design of dragon scales. Both are gorgeous. This is an opportunity to own a beautiful piece of local glass art and support DragonBoat Beaufort at the same time as all proceeds will go to the organization.

Full Circle

“I was an Army brat, born in Germany but South Carolina is home. I went to high school, college and grad school here,” says Greg. A graduate of the University of South Carolina, Greg has a BS in Biology and a MS in Public Health, his major being in Industrial Hygiene. This means he is expert at evaluating, recognizing, and controlling work hazards such as chemical exposures and radiation risks in order to protect the people who work with these substances and others. Even though he has retired he still stays active in his field, as he says, “I am the resident health and safety expert in the glass field”. Reflecting for a moment he says, “Living life is a riskit’s how you manage the risk”.

He says, “One of the things that motivate me to be involved in DragonBoat Beaufort is that I have many close relatives and friends who are cancer survivors. Cancer affects everyone – directly and indirectly. Because of this it’s a joy and honor to be involved in this great endeavor! “






The DragonBoat jewelry line is available at:

The Lollipop Shop

103 West Street Extension,

off Bay St., Beaufort and

The Gallery

802 Bay Street, Beaufort.

For further information visit these websites:



Commodore Gentry says, “The planning for the next year starts in your head right away, before the current Water Festival is actually over. Then the Coordinators and I get together and start strategizing and planning it all out for the year. “The Coordinators each have separate areas of responsibility and each Coordinator has many years of volunteering and team work behind them.

This year’s Coordinators are: Dan Thompson, Program Coordinator and Bonnie Thompson, Dan’s wife, is the Administration Coordinator. Sports Coordinator is Clark Robinson, Parks Coordinator is Brandy Gray. Water & Air Coordinator is Tank Morris, Productions Coordinator is Alan Langford.

Another husband and wife team is Sales & Admissions Coordinator Chris Canaday and wife Stacey Canaday who is Marketing/PR Coordinator. Sponsors Coordinator is Bill Damude and Treasurer is Nicky Fowlkes. Along with the Directors and all the other volunteers that make up the staff, over 400 in all, the team really pulls together to make Beaufort Water Festival the area’s signature event.


Commodore Gentry’s roots run deep in the Beaufort community. “I grew up in Beaufort and lived here until I went in the Army. After the Army I returned to Beaufort in 1981 to coach and teach at Beaufort High School,” he says. “After 31 rewarding years as a teacher and coach in the Beaufort school system I will be retiring this June.” Being an educator actually lead to Commodore Gentry’s involvement in the Beaufort Water Festival in the first place. He says, “In 1981, when I was teaching and coaching, I was making very little money but I had the summers off. One of my friends told me that the water festival needed people to help out during the day and I could get tickets for my family, and that’s how we were able to go to the events.”

He continues, “I started working with the Water Festival in 1981 and I volunteered until 1987. In 1987, I went to work for the state department and when that was finished in 1993 I started volunteering with the water festival again as a helper. “He continues, “From 1987 through 1993, my job prevented me from volunteering, and I missed it. Then Richard Norris had me help him and I got back into it then. He offered me the position of Director of Sports and I was very content doing that. Then I was asked to be a coordinator. I was a Director for three years, a Coordinator for eight years and now Commodore. So that’s nineteen years straight.

“ Gentry’s family has deep roots with the Festival as well. “My father was one of the original planners of Children’s Day, both of our daughters Megan and Erin were Pirettes and our son Kyle was a Director. My wife Jan has been by my side helping me every step of the way.” First Lady Jan Gentry has also been part of the Beaufort school system for many years, as she has been at Mossy Oaks Elementary for 26 years.

Something for Everyone

The Beaufort Water Festival will be held downtown at the Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park from July 13 -22 but many of the sporting events are held in June. The festival truly offers something for everyone, from sporting events diverse as softball, golf, kayaking and bowling, to the concert in the park with James Otto, to Children’s Day! Check the website http:// bftwaterfestival.com for further information, including a full schedule of events, ticket sales and event registration.

BL: Why have you devoted so much of your time and energy into the festival?

JG: “It is the volunteering, the people, a team, part of a team that is diverse. It is fun!”

BL: What was your favorite job?

JG: “Water & Air Coordinator. I was lucky enough to do it twice. The first year we brought The Sprit of South Carolina in from Charleston, it was beautiful! The water and air components are part of the Water Festival that have always been there and we still have remnants of those early years. Our events now include the fly overs, the Coast Guard cutters, the ski show and the shrimp boats. That is the heart of the water festival. We have been called a ‘heritage festival’ because that is what we are all about, starting from a small group of men and women who put the first ones together to where we are now.”

This year’s water and air events include a Family Fishing Tournament, Raft Race, the Children’s Toad Fishing Tournament, Coast Guard Cutter Tours, Shrimp Boat Tours, Gatorland Ski Show, a Sailing Regatta, Boat Bingo and the Air Show.

BL: What is new this year?

JG: “On Sunday, we will be bringing back the Nonprofit Expo, we’ll have Chris Jones providing live entertainment for the public, and of course the Blessing of the Fleet, and ending the day with a flyover. A perfect ending to the week!”

BL: Is there anything you would like our readers to know?

JG: “The one thing I want to say is thank you to the volunteers and the sponsors for giving their time and giving back to the community. The volunteers do everything, including manning the ticket booths and the concession stands and we donate back to those organizations. We could not do it without them. And our sponsors who are hanging in there with us, especially the Beaufortonians, deserve a big thank you for giving our community an event to be proud of that everyone enjoys. And we will not be increasing our ticket prices in honor of our families in the community and long time Water Festival supporters.”

Julie Hales is the owner and publisher of this magazine. She is our leader. She is the woman who has the final say over our pens and photographs. Julie laughingly told us once, “Everyone’s idea of a publisher is a big man, sitting behind a desk wearing a hat, chewing on a cigar and drinking a bottle of liquor, because that is what they saw in old movies.” However, that stereotypical image is far from the truth. In the industry today, publishers come from all walks of life. In Julie’s words, “Print media has changed in many ways over the years; anyone with the knowledge, and the desire and passion to tell the stories can sit behind my desk.” That passion is what has driven Julie Hales. Passion and hard work combined, the person we at the magazine find Julie to be, is a determined woman not afraid to get her hands dirty. Julie is energetic and extremely hardworking. However, those things having been said, she is also funny and charming and a pleasure to have as our publisher because she truly cares and is eminently fair. Classically, Julie fell in love with journalism in high school when she was on the newspaper staff at Effingham County High School in Springfield, Georgia in her junior and senior years. She served as the Sports Editor her senior year, writing several award winning articles. That experience paved the way for launching herself into the world of publishing. After graduating from high school, Julie attended Armstrong State College in Savannah. Her mother and father had their hearts set on Julie going to college, so she agreed to their wishes, despite the fact the working world was already calling her name. Julie won several scholarships that covered all of her tuition and books, but she still opted for a part time job at the nearby bowling alley to cover her personal expenses while attending Armstrong. After five semesters, Julie sought greener pastures. With her ingrained self-assurance and enterprising quest to do what she loved, Julie left college for a job that promised a quench to her appetite for print she had been missing.

Fifteen feet above the roadway and forty five feet above the Beaufort River at high tide, the bridge house sits on top of the world of Beaufort in the octagonal green building. Up there, Mr. Brown has a real honest-to-goodness bird’s eye view of the Intracoastal Waterway, the downtown waterfront, Factory Creek, passing ships and the big blue sky. After 35 years of working for the Beaufort County Fire Department/EMS, Mr. Brown retired and got the job of bridge tender for the Woods Memorial Bridge. His space has a beautiful wood paneled ceiling, a large desk, a bathroom which is supplied by a 500 gallon water tank and a 500 gallon septic tank. There are oodles of buttons and controls on a panel, and a view that will take your breath away.

Although he says he doesn’t notice it any more, it feels like being on a train with the movement the cars make crossing the bridge. When the bridge swings open, it mimics those first few seconds on a carousel ride; it’s a magical place! What does he like best from his aerie perch? “I love looking at nature, and talking to boaters from all over the world. It’s a very relaxing job and being retired makes it even better!” What is it like up there when it storms? Mr. Brown loves the storms, “You’re encircled by windows, the rain sounds on the tin roof, the lightning is all around you; it’s quite a show! In here, you are completely surrounded by transformers and steel, but there is a big lightning rod on top, so God willing, it works! It takes a lot of faith to be up here in a storm.”

The Woods Bridge basically opens every hour on the hour, with some exceptions, for pleasure craft.The bridge will open any time for commercial vessels. There are two separate channels under the bridge, each is 90 feet wide and 300 feet long; there is 30 feet of clearance at high tide. Four steel wedges under the center section of the bridge allow that part to drop down about four inches in order for it to clear the roadbed when it swings open; after that happens two huge gears engage and actually turn the bridge. It takes three minutes for the bridge to fully swing open, an average bridge opening takes six to eight minutes unless there is excessive river traffic, or a barge is underway.

Interestingly, when the tugs and barges go underneath the bridge, they have to go at full speed because the current is very strong. Mr. Brown explains, “ Many of the barges carry fuel oil and are headed to Charleston or the MC Air Station. Dredge tows are three stories high and pull up to five barges with thousands of feet of pipe line trailing behind so they can take up to twenty minutes to pass through. The length of the vessel, the speed of the current, and the lack of speed of the vessel make it difficult to line up with the bridge and it is not uncommon for them to hit the fender. An impact is very dangerous, not only for the bridge, but also for the bridge tender. “You never get over the fear when you see one of those big barges head toward you!” Additionally, Mr. Brown states, “This bridge is one of the most expensive pieces of equipment the State owns.

” There are people who call the bridge tender to find out why the bridge is open, why it is open so long, how long it will be open, why it is open now, when will it close?

Many of us find bridge openings a nuisance, a delay in our day. We forget, or don’t realize, that the bridges are simply a crossroad on a waterway. Mr. Brown points out The Coast Guard controls the bridge opening schedules and they feel that the water was here first, then the bridge was built and it impacted the waterway, so the waterway should come first.”

An icon in this town, Mr. Brown says he may have a monopoly on “firsts” here; “God has blessed me with being the youngest Captain in the Pioneer Fire Company (1968), the first African American paid firefighter hired by the Beaufort Fire Department (1970), the first African American firefighter of the year (1973), the first State and National certified EMT hired at the contracted ER at the Naval Hospital (1986), and I am the first African American Supervisor over the Woods Memorial and Harbor Island Bridges. I have a lot of history here!”

The son of the late Harold and Audrey Brown, Mr. Brown attended the Robert Smalls School from elementary school through graduation in 1969. His family lived on Newcastle Street next to the St. Helena Episcopal Church and the Cherokee Inn, which is now the Rhett House. “My father and mother raised us with God fear and wanted us to strive to be better than they were God blessed my parents to see us succeed and He has blessed me to see my children also succeed.”

Of his childhood days, Mr Brown reminisces, “There was a dock at the end of Bay Street where my dad used to take me out on the river in a bateaux. I like the water but I never learned how to swim. We played hide and seek in the graveyard at the St. Helena Church, I know all those tombstones! When I was ten years old, I cleaned the store windows on Bay Street; in high school I worked at the United 5 & 10 Store.” Reminiscing about those wonderful old-time variety stores, Mr. Brown declares, “I loved 5 & 10’s!”

“I had four brothers and four sisters and I always knew that I wanted to follow in my father’s footsteps and be a firefighter. Until 1970, Beaufort had segregated fire departments, the all white Washington Fire Company, and the Pioneer Fire Company, both of which merged into the Beaufort Fire Department. When I was little, the Fire Chief, Charles Haig let me look at the fire trucks. I joined the Pioneer Fire Department in 1966. In 1969 I integrated into the Beaufort Fire Department as the first African American. I was raised to believe that people are people, but I learned that if their color is different, then they are distinguished by that.” What was it like to be the first African American in that all white environment? Mr. Brown explains “There is prejudice in all races. John Harriott, the Fire Chief, said to me, ‘I hired you for the work you do.’ In 1970, the City got a brand new fire engine, I got to drive that engine in the Water Festival Parade! After two years I was Firefighter of the Year; I went through the ranks to Assistant Chief of The Beaufort Fire Department then I went over to Parris Island Fire Company. When I retired in 2001, I was Senior Medical Technician and Fire Captain.”

When not atop the bridge, Mr. Brown’s interests are varied. He is Associate Minister at the Lady’s Island Baptist Church; he was ordained by the Board of Presbytery in Philadelphia, PA in 1975. “I’m always doing something, I’m on call here at the bridge, I’m involved with my church, and I spend time with my grandchildren.” He and his lovely wife, Marilyn, have nine children and twelve grandchildren between them. “We were high school sweethearts; we met again thirty five years later and were married in 2003.”

A love of music started at an early age for Mr. Brown; he was eight when his parents bought him a Lone Ranger guitar. “When I would play on the street corner outside the Sea Island Motel on the corner of Bay and Newcastle Streets, people would give me money. I love to sing; everyone tells me I sound like Elvis! Growing up, I was in the choirs at the Tabernacle Baptist Church and in school. I sang in the talent show at the Water Festival for four years beginning in 2000; I won second place twice and third place twice. This year I will participate again, for the last time.”

A member of the Lady’s Island Baptist Church Male Chorus, Mr. Brown proudly states, “We are known all over! I just love singing, it gives me an inner peace. One of the greatest songs of worship is How Great Thou Art; when I perform that song, I always ask God to let people be blessed. It is my favorite song, and the one most requested of me and the Male Chorus, which is evident by the standing ovation after each performance.” His rich, deep voice reverberates off the walls of the church and fills your heart with awe. Elvis may still be with us after all!

It’s perfectly clear that Mr. Brown loves life. His cheerfulness is infectious and his gregariousness is returned in kind – he talks to pedestrians as they cross the bridge, boat operators stop, smile and wave and often exchange a greeting. “You can’t beat this,” he says, “this is a wonderful job!”


Milbrey Gnann was diagnosed with breast cancer nine years ago. She was breast feeding her infant son, Thomas, when she noticed changes in her breast and initially thought she had mastitis. She was put on antibiotics until she could get an appointment with a surgeon; she got the diagnosis of breast cancer after several biopsies and imaging procedures a month later. Her advice: “Any time you have changes in your breast, you need to have it checked.” When she did have it checked by the surgeon, the mass was already five centimeters. She was given chemotherapy to reduce the size of the mass before surgery. Nine years later, Milbrey has been given ten different drugs to treat her cancer. In March of this year, drug therapy will have stopped for her unless a new drug becomes available in time. “There is a new drug in clinical trial so I just hope that my current treatment is buying me time. But if it doesn’t get FDA approval, or I’m allergic to it, there is only one more option and that is a sea sponge chemotherapy agent, but there are additional risks associated with people who have kidney disease.” A wife and mother of two sons, until two years ago Milbrey was also a nurse at Beaufort Memorial Hospital. Her husband, Walt, is a native of Beaufort. The two met while they were at Clemson and moved here

Milbrey Gnann

in 1997. Their son, Walter, is in seventh grade and Thomas is in fourth grade. They are the biggest reason she gets up in the morning and puts on her brave face for the world. When she talks about her husband and sons, Milbrey’s face lights up; her children’s art covers all possible surfaces in her kitchen. “The kids help so much – they keep me focused; they have to get to school, and I love going to their ball games.” She says with much pride, “Both boys enjoy school. Walter plays soccer and sails a Laser at the Beaufort Yacht and Sailing Club (BYSC), he loves the racing competitions there. Thomas sails a bit with his dad but he really loves any sport with a ball. He goes to school early two mornings a week where he plays cup stacking; he also plays the viola and sings. Our family spends a lot of time at the BYSC socially and that’s really good for me because I love being on the water.” When asked how she has the energy to take care of a house and her family, she replies “I don’t, look at my house!” Her house looks like that of any woman who is busy. The difference is that Milbrey is busy managing her disease; cancer is a family affair. After she lost her breast and subsequently during her disease process and reactions to the many medications she’s been given, Milbrey’s cancer metastasized to her skin and chest wall and then about two years ago, to her lungs. Last fall fluid built up in her chest and had to be drained regularly, a task her husband Walt did for her. Everything is so expensive; one of my pills cost $1000.00 and I needed five of them a day! Three years ago one of my medications destroyed my kidneys.” Due to the renal failure, she is now on home dialysis about eight hours every night. “My kids know how to set up my machine because they want me to do the dialysis.” I don’t like being sick but I’ve come to be at peace because I’ve got good support at St. Peter’s Church, my family and friends.” What is it like for her to not be able to envision her future? “It makes me sad! I’ve done my funeral arrangements; and in a way, it’s odd to be in control of that but it’s also kind of neat. I’ve picked out readings and songs that I like, but I’ve also left some things to be done by my family. I have been thinking about my legacy. You know, many people, not even close friends come up to me and tell me how much of an inspiration I have been to them. I help them persevere with the challenges life has brought them too. This Sunday after Mass I was talking to a member and he told me he is always amazed that I still can smile. Another time, someone told me that I have faced my suffering with grace. I have a couple of my former patients, even one from nursing student days, that are some of

The screening of Awaken The Dragon at the Beaufort International Film Festival vividly portrayed the effect the Charleston Dragon Boat program has had on cancer survivors, their caregivers and their supporters. As the lights went up, Clare Taylor and Mary Ann Thomas, moved as many in the audience were, turned to each other and said “We need to do this in Beaufort.” At the awards ceremony the evening of the screening, they met with Liz Oakley, the producer/director of the Festival’s winning documentary, Sterling Hannah and the enthusiastic members of the trophy-winning Charleston crew and DragonBoat Beaufort was born. The ambitious goal was to create a dynamic team, for both men and women cancer survivors and supporters and to fund local cancer support programs. Step One: form a team. Step Two: buy the DragonBoat through community support and outreach. Dragon Boat Charleston has been the model for Beaufort’s initiative, providing support, direction and even water-based “newbie” training in Charleston’s Ashley River. According to their website: “Twenty paddlers sit two abreast in colorful 48-foot vessels while paddling to the beat of a drummer, the heartbeat of the dragon. In 1996, a physician at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, created the first cancer survivor team. This team, called ‘Abreast in a Boat’, quickly proved the importance of team activity for both physical and emotional well being. Just five years after the development of the original team, over one thousand survivors had formed survivor teams.” DragonBoat Beaufort’s goal is to promote “physical wellness and psychological well-being through this thrilling, team-oriented support program that even offers opportunities to travel to competitions world-wide. Being cut, radiated and medicated by cancer treatments needs an offset. This is an opportunity to get outdoors in a supportive team environment and regain some of what was lost.” Dragonboats can cost as much as $16,000. Additional needs include a safety boat, insurance, marina costs and trailoring. While initial fundraising in Beaufort is focused on the purchase of one, perhaps even two boats, DragonBoat Beaufort hopes to stage a DragonBoat Festival in the Fall of 2013 raising significant funds to support its local cancer support programs. On April 21 at 5:30, BIFF will hold an encore screening of Awaken the Dragon at USCB Center for the Arts; tickets are $20, $10 of which goes to DBB. It’s not necessary to wait until then to contribute, donate, or volunteer – see the trailer: https//:vimeocom. 35915444, go to the website: www.dragonboatbeaufort.org and choose how you can help. Cancer affects all of us in one way or another.