• Beaufort Lifestyle Magazine


story by Wanda Hendrix Simmons

Todd Bradley, owner of Live Oak Builders, is a custom home builder in Beaufort, Port Royal & the Sea Islands with over 20 years of experience.  Todd and his team specialize in site evaluation & planning, design and space consultation and in-house design and material selection. At Live Oak Builders they know that creating a home is a significant personal event in your life.  This role is taken seriously, as they provide clients with what they’re looking for, while minimizing concerns.  Todd and his team manage the details, to make custom home building an enjoyable and memorable experience for their clients.

With so much growth in the Lowcountry, in February 2018, Live Oak Builders, announced its relocation and new showroom located at 2020 Ribaut Road, Port Royal, South Carolina.  This new 1740 square foot showroom allows clients to have trending products and materials available, while they are discussing their selections, the design and costs.  This showroom features a fully operational kitchen, displays four different cabinet manufacturers, and granite and quartz countertops.  Also, on display for the clients viewing are two bathrooms, various window lines and door options, a fully functioning generator, instant hot water heater, paver patio, ventless fireplace and see and touch spray foam insulation.

In December 2017, Live Oak Builders was the recipient of four awards with the Hilton Head Area Home Builders Association (HHAHBA), winning several categories for a Southern Living Style – Tideland Haven Home Design.  Three of the awards were Building awards and the fourth award was for the Best Marketing piece.

If you are in the market for a custom-built home, or whole home remodel, stop by and see Todd Bradley and his team at Live Oak Builders. They can be reached at their new location at 2020 Ribaut Road in Port Royal, via telephone at 843-524-2343 or visit their website at www.liveoakbuilder.com.

Freedom Boat Club was founded in 1989 in Sarasota, Florida. It is the oldest and largest boat club in the nation.      The vision and purpose in establishing the boat club model was simple and straightforward: to provide an affordable option to boat ownership and to deliver a hassle-free recreational boating experience for its members. Today, Freedom Boat Club welcomes and embraces a broad mix of members to its ranks, from first-time boaters and newbies, to seasoned salts and former boat owners, from young families to active retired. Freedom Boat Club is also actively engaged in developing new and diverse markets. Anyone who loves the water and water-related activities is embraced as a member of Freedom Boat Club!


The owners of the Freedom Boat Club (FBC) at Hilton Head and Port Royal are Cassius “Cash” Mullen and Gayle Schaffner. They are from Pennsylvania where they lived and worked until moving to the lowcountry six years ago.  Cash is a mechanic by trade and started his own auto repair facility in Carlisle, Pennsylvania at the age of nineteen.  He owned and operated his business for thirty years before selling it to two of his employees in 2011. Gayle’s career has centered on office administration and human resources.

Both Cash and Gayle had simultaneous career opportunities to move south earlier than their anticipated retirement years so they moved to Bluffton in 2012.  Soon after their move south, Cash discovered Freedom Boat Club in Hilton Head and subsequently joined the club.  Cash was immediately impressed with the concept of Freedom Boat Club. When he wasn’t traveling for his job as a driving instructor, he enjoyed boating, mostly fishing, in Hilton Head waters, always using their membership in the FBC.

When an opportunity to purchase the Hilton Head franchise came up Cash and Gayle acted on it and purchased the franchise in March 2015. Together they worked to grow the Hilton Head franchise and in less than three years they were able to expand it from a fleet of 14 boats to 24 boats.

Buoyed by their success and seeing a need in northern Beaufort County, they opened a second location in Beaufort/Port Royal in August 2017. Port Royal is a beautiful town next to Beaufort which has stunning waters to enjoy. FBC in Port Royal operates out of the picturesque Port Royal Landing Marina.  This location was chosen because of its close proximity and easy access to downtown Beaufort and the surrounding Sea Islands. A nice feature at the Port Royal Landing Marina is the waterfront restaurant, the Back Porch Café, where you can enjoy fresh shrimp or a burger.  Only minutes away from the sound and open waters to the ocean, this location is located on Intercoastal Waterway (ICW).  Close by is downtown Beaufort, which boasts a variety of shops and restaurants along the Beaufort River.

In Port Royal and Hilton Head, FBC members enjoy boats such as Sea Hunt, Parker, Scout, Key West, and Hurricane.  There are a variety of types of boats that include bow riders, deck boats, center console boats, and pontoon boats. There truly is a boat for every taste and need.


Freedom Boat Club is designed for folks who want to access a versatile fleet of boats without the hassles and expense of maintenance, storage, and insurance.  You join the club by paying a one-time entry fee, then affordable monthly dues.  Members have unlimited access to boats in their home club(s) as well as use of boats in the 160 plus other FBC locations throughout the U.S. and Canada.  In addition, FBC Corporate recently announced a major franchise expansion in Europe.  The company expects to announce multiple Freedom Boat Club operations in France, with additional expansion elsewhere throughout Europe to follow.

FBC is a major proponent of boater education and safety.  Membership includes unlimited training, so whether you’ve never boated before, or you’ve boated for years, FBC welcomes you as a member.

Here’s what our members are saying:

“I’m a long-time satisfied member of the club. Reliable well maintained boats, fair pricing, accommodating and friendly staff, ample availability of boats—what’s not to like??? The best way to enjoy the water!” . . . John O’Neal

“We have been FBC members for 3 years and enjoy boating at least one time each week.  A boat is available whenever we need it and we greatly appreciate the care given to maintain the boats in excellent condition.  We look forward to many more years of positive boating experiences!!” . . . Dr. Larry Fleming

 “Joining Freedom Boat Club has proven to be the best decision for getting out on the water whenever we want. Whether cruising or fishing, the boats are kept in great shape. Best of all, no dock fees, insurance or maintenance worries for members of FBC – just fun on the water”

. . . Jim Wilkins

“My wife and I have been members of the Hilton Head Freedom Boat Club since 2012 and we have absolutely loved this amenity to enjoy with our two young kids. Being able to reserve any style boat I want for any day that I want is perfect for us. Showing up to a boat that is clean, fueled and ready to go is priceless to me.”  . . Chris Walker

Join Freedom Boat Club and create boating memories to last a lifetime!

For more information on our clubs, including current costs, please contact Membership Director, Steve Sherman at ssherman@freedomboatclub.com or call 843-682-BOAT.

Join us for an Open House at the Port Royal Landing Marina on Saturday, May 12, 5:00-7:00 p.m.  Come learn more about the club and hear about incentive pricing for new Port Royal members (for a limited time).  Enjoy free boat rides, free food and giveaways.

RSVP to gschaffner@freedomboatclub.com

story by Wanda Hendrix Simmons

For over 18 years, Eversole Law Firm has discovered that their clients appreciate the time, effort and dedication they put into every aspect of meeting their clients’ legal needs.  The dedicated staff is there to counsel you and help you make it through all of life’s legal challenges.  Eversole Law Firm is a growing practice, supported by a very dedicated, strong support staff.

At Eversole Law Firm you will find a full service real estate law firm that can address all of life’s challenging and complex real estate legal issues.  This staff of dedicated, dependable professionals can assist you in any of the following legal areas:

  • Real Estate Closings
  • Title Opinions
  • Quiet Title Actions
  • Boundary Disputes and Easements
  • Estate Planning
  • Probate Administration

Alysoun M. Eversole, Esq. has recently authored a book entitled, “Buying a House? Legal Stuff You Should Know Before You Sign a Contract” to help new home buyers understand the residential real estate closing process.  Debbie Rogers, who has been with Alysoun as her Real Estate Paralegal since 2004, provides over 25 years of experience in preparing and coordinating the numerous real estate closings brought to the firm.

Cherese Handy, Esq., a former title abstracter, now attorney, also works with Alysoun in Real Estate Litigation, and will soon be expanding her legal career into civil litigation, such as handling personal injury cases.

Felix “Butch” Clayton, Esq., has the experience to help his clients find a peace of mind and take charge of their financial future through Bankruptcy. He helps his clients restructure their current financial situation for a lasting and life changing outcome through his legal assistance.

If you find yourself in need of an experienced, capable, and caring law firm, then give the professionals at Eversole Law Firm a call.  This committed professional team is dedicated to serving you and they believe there’s a solution to every problem.

Eversole Law Firm is located near the picturesque, downtown area of Beaufort at 1509 King Street, Beaufort, South Carolina, with a satellite office in Bluffton to serve clients “south of the Broad.”, They can be reached by phone at 843-379-3333.  You can also visit their website at www.eversolelaw.com

story by Carol Lauvray     photos by John Wollwerth

Musician Michael Johns and his wife Michelle discovered Beaufort like so many of us who live here—they stopped in Beaufort while on vacation and fell in love with this picturesque coastal town and its friendly residents. Michael says that Beaufort’s reasonable cost of living and lack of traffic were additional enticements, so they purchased their home on Lady’s Island in Royal Pines 15 years ago and moved here permanently in 2011. And like so many who have relocated to Beaufort, Michael has found new direction in his life in our community. He explains that after moving to Beaufort, he was amazed to learn about the quality of music being presented in the “top-notch” USCB Chamber Music Concert Series. “To hear music of this caliber you’d expect to have to go to New York, Chicago or London—the USCB Chamber Music Concert Series is on the level of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center!”

Music—A Lifelong Vocation and Avocation

     Now retired from his professional performing career, Michael has found a new musical direction in Beaufort—immersing himself in the USCB Chamber Music Concert Series. He writes the program notes for each Chamber Music Concert and presents a pre-concert lecture to discuss the composers and music featured in each concert. These free, two-hour pre-concert lectures are presented in conjunction with both the University of South Carolina Beaufort (USCB) and the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) and are open to the public. Michael says the lectures are designed for music lovers. You do not need to be a trained musician to attend. “I select approximately 50 recorded musical excerpts from the upcoming concert and play them during the lecture, discussing what concert-goers can expect to hear that weekend. I want to help those who attend my lectures have a richer, deeper experience and be more engaged in the music when they attend one of the Chamber Music Concerts,” he says.

     “Chamber music is different from other musical styles,” Michael explains. “What you experience with chamber music is a different inflection. Because it is acoustic music and involves a smaller number of instruments—perhaps a piano, violin and cello trio or string quartet—chamber music is more intimate and tender than the amplified music from a larger ensemble. Chamber music is like an intimate conversation. While listening to it, you tend to lean forward in your seat as if you’re overhearing a conversation, but when you’re listening to amplified music, you lean back and the music washes over you.”

     A lifelong musician, Michael grew up in north-central Connecticut in a musical family. “Both my maternal and paternal grandparents had musical backgrounds. My grandmother was in the first class of the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, my parents met in their college band, and my dad was a public school music teacher in Manchester, Connecticut. Two of my three siblings also are musical—my brother played with the Metropolitan Opera for 45 years,” he adds.

     Michael earned his Bachelors Degree in French Horn Performance from the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston and both his Masters Degree in Music History and Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA) Degree in French Horn Performance from Temple University in Philadelphia. He has performed on the French Horn with symphony, ballet and opera orchestras, in recital and chamber music. “I’ve played with the Delaware and Boston Symphony Orchestras and the Philadelphia Orchestra, and for Riccardo Muti, now the music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, for Seiji Ozawa, the former music director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and for Arthur Fiedler, the long-time conductor of the Boston Pops Orchestra, as well as for many others,” says Michael. “As a freelance musician, I’ve worn many hats—I’ve done quite a lot of teaching, conducting, record producing and coaching chamber ensembles. I’ve taught children in community music schools, as well as college and graduate students, many of them specializing in playing the French Horn. I’ve also taught teachers in both music and education courses, including music appreciation and music history.”

Appreciating the Chamber Music Concert Series at USCB

     The University of South Carolina Beaufort says this on its website about the Chamber Music Concerts: “Since 1979, the USCB Chamber Music Concert Series has presented internationally renowned artists, such as pianists Jean-Yves Thibaudet and Jeremy Denk, violinists Joshua Bell and Robert McDuffie, flautist Paula Robison, cellist Carter Brey, and the Brooklyn Rider, Emerson, Tokyo and St. Lawrence Quartets.”

     “With Charles Wadsworth, credited by many with reviving interest in chamber music at Lincoln Center and at Spoleto Festivals in Italy and Charleston, and Edward Arron, director of the amazingly popular and critically acclaimed New York Metropolitan Museum chamber music series for 10 years, the quality of the musical selections and the talents of the artists have surprised and delighted audiences who come from throughout the region.”

     Michael Johns will present the final free, two-hour pre-concert lecture for this Chamber Music season on Friday, April 20th from 10:00 AM to noon in the Sandstone Building in OLLI classroom 124 (prior registration through OLLI is requested). During this pre-concert lecture, Michael will present multiple recorded excerpts and discuss what concert-goers can expect to hear to help enhance their listening pleasure during the concert, which will be held that weekend on Sunday, April 22nd at the USCB Performing Arts Center at 5:00 PM. Michael says, “The repertoire for this concert includes music of polished elegance, grave serenity, and exuberant joy by Haydn, Chopin, Shostakovich, and Dvorak.”

     Franz Joseph Haydn’s String Trio in G Major, Opus 53, No. 1 represents a relatively obscure instrumentation, playing in a classical style with great symmetry, balance and natural melodies that are tuneful (i.e., you can whistle them). It offers pleasing variety, but nothing shocking. Haydn’s music reflects graceful and uplifting feelings and is triumphant at times, however, to get to the triumph Haydn takes us through some stormy music,” Michael says.

     Frederic Chopin’s Waltz in c-sharp minor for Solo Piano, Opus 64, No. 2 (1847) is Chopin’s most frequently performed and recorded waltz. It is a wistful and atmospheric piece in a minor key, according to Michael.

     Dmitri Shostakovich’s Piano Quintet in g minor, Opus 57 was composed during World War II. “During his career, Shostakovich was in and out of favor with the Communist authorities and feared for his life, so he was careful not to anger them. This fiercely strong music communicates moments of deep, searing sadness. By interjecting dissonant notes and elements of sarcasm, Shostakovich conveys his contempt for Soviet ideology,” explains Michael.

     Antonin Dvorak’s Piano Quintet in A Major, Opus 81 fills the entire second half of the concert. Michael says, “The music is jubilant, festive and joyful and is in the style of Dvorak’s New World Symphony.”

The Future of the USCB Chamber Music Concert Series

     At the opening concert of the USCB Chamber Music Concert Series’ 38th season late last year, Chancellor Al Panu announced the establishment of the USCB Chamber Music Endowment and invited the 350 audience members to join with him and Artistic Director Edward Arron to celebrate and support the new endowment as a way to “…ensure that the music of world’s finest classical composers will continue to be played by some of the world’s finest musicians at the USCB Center for Arts.” The endowment was established to underwrite the future of Chamber Music at the University and within the Beaufort community, he added.

     Michael Johns recently shared that Music Director Edward Arron told him it is the responsibility of the USCB Chamber Music Series Board to get the message out to the Beaufort community about this premier music series so people will come to the performances, and it is the musicians’ obligation to play so well and with such conviction that the audiences want to come back to hear more.

Bay Street Realty Group Joins Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices 

Berkshire Hathaway HomeSerices, part of the HSF affiliates, LLC family of real estate brokerage franchise networks, recently announced independent brokerage Bay Street Realty Group has joined the network operating as Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Bay Street Realty Group.

   The full-service brokerage, serving greater Beaufort and the Sea Islands, remains independently owned and operated. It is a market leader in South Carolina’s Lowcountry and the region’s go-to source for residential, commercial and development real estate services. Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices remains one of America’s fastest-growing real estate brokerage networks with nearly 45,500 agents and 1,350 offices named to the brand since its September 2013 launch.

   “We are thrilled to bring the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices brand to Beaufort and the SeaIslands,” said Brokerage Owner Ken Willis. “The brand is fresh, progressive and ideally suited for our coastal communities. Its namesake is Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc., and it’s built on Berkshire Hathaway’s core values of Trust, Integrity, Stability and Longevity. We believe consumers throughout the Lowcountry will appreciate these virtues and embrace the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices brand.”

    Willis plans to double his agent count over the next two years and extend the brokerage’s reach to neighboring markets. He said the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices brand will help his team recruit. “We think seasoned agents in the area will want to take their businesses to new heights representing Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Bay Street Realty Group. As important, the brand, which builds its strategies and programs with input from its leading millennial agents, will appeal to sharp, younger professionals.”

   With their affiliation, Bay Street Realty Group agents gain access to the network’s Global Network Platform, a powerful real estate tool suite that supercharges lead generation, marketing support, social media, video production/distribution and more. The brand also provides international listing syndication, professional education and the exclusive Luxury Collection marketing program for high-end listings.

     “The brand’s real estate tools and resources are second to none and will help our agents be their very best for clients,” said Brokerage Owner Will Thurman. “Since Beaufort and the Sea Islands are becoming a popular destination for foreign travelers and investors, we’re particularly excited about Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices’ global listing syndication program. Our listings will appear monthly before more than 12 million additional consumers abroad.”

   Both Willis and Thurman are eager to begin a new era with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices. “Our agents are pumped up, the market is percolating — buoyed by our strong, local economy — and Bay Street Realty Group is positioned to grow for years to come.”

   Gino Blefari, president and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, applauded the brokerage’s transition. “Bay Street Realty Group is highly respected in the marketplace and led by skilled operators. We’re proud to welcome this group to our network family.”

About Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Bay Street Realty Group

     Bay Street Realty Group is a full-service real estate company dedicated to providing the highest level of services to clients from three local offices – Downtown Bay Street, Coosaw Point and Harbor Island. It is the only real estate company covering Beaufort and the Sea Islands. Visit www.baystreetrealtygroup.com.

     Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, based in Irvine, CA, is a real estate brokerage network built for a new era in residential real estate. The network, among the few organizations entrusted to use the world-renowned Berkshire Hathaway name, brings to the real estate market a definitive mark of trust, integrity, stability and longevity. The brand was just recognized for “Highest Overall Satisfaction for Repeat Home Sellers Among National Full Service Real Estate Firms” in J.D. Power’s 2017 Home Buyer/Seller Satisfaction Study. Visit www.berkshirehathawayhs.com.

In recognition of her great work throughout the Beaufort community and surrounding areas, Connie Wegmann has been awarded the 2018 Woman of the Year Award. As a longstanding volunteer worker, Connie Wegmann is the epitome of this description for her community. She has passionately volunteered in the Beaufort community for over two decades.

   The 2018 Woman of the Year Award was presented to Connie at Women United’s Power of the Purse event sponsored by Beaufort Memorial on March 1st at the Dataw Island Clubhouse.  The Woman of the Year Award was created by the United Way of the Lowcountry Women United to honor the outstanding women in Beaufort and Jasper Counties who have made a powerful impact on the local community through their volunteer efforts, and who have served as a role model for inspiration and achievement of other women.

    Connie is an avid believer in volunteering in your community, and she encourages volunteering to everyone she knows.  She says, “I feel very blessed to have been given the opportunity to have extra time, which allows me to volunteer. It is important to do what you can, and never take life for granted.”

   Connie grew up in a military family, always moving around.  In 1994, she and her husband planted roots here in Beaufort when the military sent him here to serve.

   Connie’s dedication to the Beaufort community began during the 1990’s when her sons attended Lady’s Island Elementary School.  Connie quickly jumped on board and led the School Improvement Council, diligently working to enhance the learning environment for all students, eventually helping them transition to the newly built Coosa Elementary School.

   While her boys were young, she began volunteering with Parris Island’s Navy and Marine Corps Relief Society where she gave financial guidance and assistance to service members during times of need.  While with the NMCRS, she became the Chairman of Volunteers overseeing all the volunteers within the organization.

   She served five years as the treasurer for Beaufort Academy’s Blue-White Sports Club. She devoted countless hours to working concession stands and raising funds for the school’s sports programs. She and her husband, Jim, were even awarded the Halbert Award, Beaufort Academy’s Highest Award for years of volunteer service.

   As an active member of St. Peter’s Catholic Church, she has served as Sunday Greeter, Moms Ministry, worked with the church’s food pantry and St. Vincent De Paul Society.  She has worked in many capacities of the church’s major fundraisers including Fall Bazaar, Homes for the Holidays and St. Peter’s Oyster Roast and Micro Brew Festival.

    For the past four years, Connie has volunteered with the United Way of the Lowcountry, serving on the Community Impact Committee.  Due to her hard work on that committee, she was recently asked to take a leadership position as the Panel Chair for the Community Impact Evaluation.  In this capacity, Connie evaluates applications from agencies seeking program funding through the United Way. Her duties include the strict review of applicants, including a review of finances and site visits. Her work ensures that the United Way invests in programs that provide quality services and community partners with the highest levels of accountability and transparency. When a local agency needed guidance regarding financial matters, once again, Connie selflessly offered her talents to mentor the non-profit on fiscal accountability and stewardship.

   This year Connie worked with preparing backpacks for children in the community as part of Women United’s Operation Backpack, where more than 600 backpacks full of school supplies and uniform shirts were donated to children in need this school year.

   In 2014, Connie joined Dragonboat Beaufort (cancer supporter/survivor non-profit).  Connie was looking for an exercise opportunity and wanted time on the beautiful waters of Beaufort. However, the Dragonboat Beaufort Team realized her talents and she quickly assumed a supervisory role. Along with her stellar work ethic, Connie brought a wealth of knowledge from her background in both the accounting and community service areas. She swiftly and singlehandedly revived the charities Outreach Committee implementing a vetting and distribution system that, in just the past two years, has given over $40,000 in small, personal grants to nearly 160 neighbors in Beaufort County, who have been stricken with cancer.

   Connie is an active paddler and a coach for Dragonboat Beaufort’s competitive racing team, which serves as a form of physical and emotional therapy for those recovering from the devastating effects of cancer. This year, Connie will proudly serve as the Director for the Dragonboat Beaufort’s annual Race Day supervising all aspects of the charities premier fundraising event that will be held on Saturday, June 23rd from 8 AM until 4 PM at Waterfront Park.  There are several sponsorship opportunities ranging from $500.00 to $1500.00 for anyone wishing to participate and be a sponsor of this worthy event.  The Dragonboat Beaufort Race Day Festival in 2017 assisted 88 cancer patients in various areas consisting of utility assistance, housing assistance, transportation assistance, medical costs assistance and food assistance.

   A passion for volunteering, and a heart for giving, that is Connie Wegmann, the 2018 Woman of the Year.

by Cindy Reid     photos by Paul Nurnberg

One of the last remaining undeveloped Sea Islands in Lowcountry, Hunting Island is a 5000-acre; semitropical barrier island located 15 miles east of Beaufort, South Carolina. It is part of the ACE Basin estuarine reserve area and the most visited park in South Carolina.  www.friendsofhuntingisland.org

     On October 7, 2016, nature called on Hunting Island in the form of Hurricane Matthew and South Carolina’s beloved state park was forever changed. Massive trees were downed throughout the island, the campgrounds were decimated, the fishing pier was partially destroyed and the park was officially closed until further notice. After much effort, the park reopened in August 2017 . But then came Tropical Storm Irma, and the park suffered another blow when the storm left considerable flooding in its wake.

     But all was not lost as many hands, from the park service , Friends of Hunting Island and other volunteers, worked diligently to get their beloved Hunting Island open again, which it did in January 2018. But much work remains, and on January 22, the South Carolina Department of Parks and Tourism released a proposal to restore Hunting Island.

     Artist Robert Hild had an epiphany soon after reading that report. As he writes in “The Project: Epiphany-a moment of a sudden revelation or insight”….  “ For the time prior to Matthew, this place was a regular low tide walk for my dog Patrick and me. That place became a very special visual ever-changing feast for the eyes. It was a beautiful constant changing huge game of ‘pickup sticks’ that you could walk through with darting sanderlings and play of light, sand, water and tree limbs. Some folks see erosion. I see nature at work, a surreal visual festival.”

     As a response to the damage done to the island and the need for funding to truly restore it, Hild is contributing in his way – as an artist. He decided to return to his painting after a seventeen year hiatus and donate his watercolor impressions of the pre-hurricane island to help with the reconstruction after it. In these works he  …”felt the connection of the basic elements of the coast, water and wood, the sea and this boneyard. “Truly the watercolors and handmade paper are blended into timeless works of art by a master watercolorist.

 The Artist

     Hild is a painter, printmaker and an art educator, and has worked and taught in Pennsylvania, Georgia, South Carolina and Virginia. He is a member of the American Watercolor Society and received a Doctorate of Arts from Carnegie Mellon University in Screen Printmaking. His work has appeared in more than 155 juried and invited exhibitions, including eight American Watercolor Society shows at the National Galleries in New York, National Academies of Design, and two Butler Institute Mid Year Annuals in Youngstown, Ohio and state wide water color exhibitions in Pennsylvania, Georgia, South Carolina and Virginia.

     Hild lived a full year in Beaufort sixteen years ago. He says, “I returned to stay four years ago. During my 16 year ago stay, I visited Hunting Island at least once a week that resulted in a body of work. Also during that year, I taught art courses at USCB, TCL and had an art exhibit at the Beaufort Library in January 2000.” His exhibit of screen prints illustrated the ebb and flow of the environment, and upon his return to the lowcountry, the park has been a major element in Hild’s life. He says, “Since my return I have visited the north end of Hunting Island at least every week to walk and look.” Fascinated particularly by the “boneyard” north of the lighthouse, Hild made a series of photographs of this land/seascape between 2013 -2016. Little of what Hild captured in photographs is still there. He painted the body of work for the upcoming exhibit and sale from a selection of these images, so that others could see ‘what is no more’. He says, “This is for me to give back something that Hunting Island has given me. Not erosion but a festival of Nature at work.”

     Hild’s studies in art are neither limited to the physical world or the abstract. He says, “The more I consider all of my works, I realize that they all feature strong aspects of light and its effects.”

     Nature’s Shifting Scenes @ Hunting Island (2013-2016)

     Hild has donated thirty new watercolor works to be exhibited at the University South Carolina Center for the Arts May 3-31, 2018 with all proceeds from the sale of the art going to the Friends of Hunting Island in support of the continuing recovery efforts needed at the park. The opening reception will be Thursday, May 3 at 5:30 PM. Original watercolors, note cards and posters will be on sale beginning   April 1 at www.friendsofhuntingisland.org

     Hild says, “Everyone has a point of view. We see differently. We come from near and far. Hunting Island Nature Preserve is for us to see. It is a unique place. My reason to see is nature in action, a constant changing kaleidoscope. This is my vision to share. What is there today is different, what I saw is gone. I invite you to see what I saw.”

story by Mindy Lucas

Beaufort native, Valerie Sayers, is the author of six novels including Who Do You Love and Brain Fever, which were named New York Times “Notable Books of the Year.” The film Due East was based on her novels Due East and How I Got Him Back. Sayers recently won her second Pushcart Prize for fiction and will be inducted into the South Carolina Academy of Authors, the Palmetto State’s literary hall of fame, on April 28, part of a weekend-long induction celebration to be held in Beaufort. She was a Beaufort High School student of Pat Conroy’s and serves on the board of directors of the Pat Conroy Literary Center. She now teaches English and fiction writing at the University of Notre Dame.

 Mindy Lucas: Let’s talk a little bit about your background. Were you born and raised here in Beaufort?

Valerie Sayers: Yep, born and raised. I was born in 1952. I was the fourth of seven kids. So I’m right in the middle. I went to Battery Creek Elementary, Beaufort Junior High and Beaufort High School.

     I left when I was 17 after my senior of high school. I was hell bent for New York City. I thought I was going to be an actor. I had been acting in the Beaufort Little Theater because that was my fantasy. My father had gone to Fordham University in New York [Where Valerie also went] and as it happened, they were starting a brand new experimental college at Lincoln Center with an emphasis in the arts.

ML: What were your parents like or what did they do?

VS: Well, my parents were Yankees.

ML: (laughing) Is that an occupation?

VS: (laughing) So many people in Beaufort are. My dad was a psychologist – a civilian psychologist at Parris Island and my mom was raising seven kids. So they were very supportive of my going to New York.

So I did. I took off and it took about six weeks probably for me to decide that I really didn’t want to be an actor, that it was a very hard and miserable and competitive life. So I spent a good portion of my college days figuring out the next step. But you know I had written all my life. I threw myself at literature courses in college even though I never declared an English major at the time.

ML:  Let’s talk about the town of Due East in your work, not to be confused with Due West, South Carolina. I believe I read where this is a thinly veiled Beaufort?

VS:  Yeah, it’s totally Beaufort. You know I’m not sure exactly why I didn’t call it Beaufort. I actually stole the name Due East from a dear friend, a writer friend and classmate. And I just took it.

ML: You’ve written about the town in your books Who Do You Love and Due East and in those books you also explore themes of relationships, loneliness, your characters’ inner desires or their plight. Can you describe the bigger themes of your work?

VS: I often have thought of my work, particularly certain novels and certain stories, as veering much more in the direction of very particular moments in history. So my novel Who Do You Love takes place in the 24 hours before John F. Kennedy is assassinated and is very much about the changing political terrain of the small town South.

     Or, in my novel Brain Fever, the main character, who is having a crack up, is actually consumed with the situation of the civil war in Bosnia and what’s happening to the Bosnian people even though half the novel takes place in this little Southern town. But that was inspired by people I knew in Beaufort who were anti-war activists during the Vietnam War for example. And that was a very lonely thing to be in Beaufort because, of course, it was such a military town.

ML: You’ve been compared to Carson McCullers and Flannery O’Connor for your characters and voice, possibly since the characters that people your world are a little askew or off course. What do you think of that comparison?

VS: You said it very well. I actually teach, as often as I can, a course in Southern Literature. I teach McCullers and O’Connor, both of whom I hold in very high esteem.

     When I was a young writer, it was Faulkner really that I fell love in love with. And the idea of using the place of Due East was absolutely a Faulknerian move. That was my own little homage to William Faulkner’s Yoknapatawpha.

     But certainly McCullers, O’Connor, and Walker Percy is each a great example of a Southern writer who had a really profound impact on my thinking about what it is a novel can do and should do. Those are all really important people to me and they, like all novelists I guess, are always interested in that central question of the individual in a culture and how often the individual feels estranged from a culture or estranged from even bigger questions—questions about existence and the, capital M, Meaning of, capital L, Life.

ML: Let’s circle back to your connection to this place—to Beaufort—and when you went to Beaufort High School, and, if you’d like, please tell your Conroy story.

VS: Pat was just a god. It’s just so funny to think how young he was then. Because we were, you know, 17 years old, 18 years old, 16 years old. He must have been 22 or 23 when he taught us.

     We just thought he was so sophisticated and witty and erudite. I thought he knew everything. Maybe he did. (laughing) He was very good at projecting that sense.

The memory that always strikes me most deeply and really moved me is when his parents came to visit our psychology class. I thought they were beautiful. They looked like the perfect parents for Pat Conroy. They kind of swept into the classroom, and they stayed for about 15 minutes and then swept back out. And Pat just gave this very together lecture. He was a big lecturer, which is quite a skill I’ve come to find out. But he could really talk at length, extemporaneously.

     He was very handsome and he projected all this self-confidence. So what was really moving about this moment was when, after they left and he saw them out, he came back and he was just white. And we could see that he was sweating and he sort of just broke the wall of authority that he held over us by saying, “That was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life.” It was a very humanizing moment, and I already adored him but I really, really liked him after that.

ML: As Pat was in 1988, you will be inducted into the South Carolina Academy of Authors this April in a ceremony here in Beaufort.  What has the thought of that been like for you?

VS: Well it’s such a lovely honor. It’s a real tickle that it will be in Beaufort. My mother will be 100 when that event happens. So I’m just holding my breath. She’s still getting around, so I hope she’ll be there because really that honor would be the ultimate for her.

“Forging & Welding Historic Railroad Parts into Words of Art”

story by Cindy Reid     photos by Susan DeLoach

To enter Cathy Pender Emmert and her father Jim Pender’s blacksmith workshop is to enter a wonderland of fire and noise, steel and iron, anvils and forges. Out of the midst of much machinery and who knows how many tools, Cathy and Jim have created an entire art form from previously discarded historical artifacts. And they have also created something else. They have forged a true father and daughter friendship.

Railroad Remnants 

     Cathy comes by her facility with tools and machinery by way of eighteen years of working at the family’s business, Pender Brothers Inc., a plumbing, welding and HVAC business established in Port Royal in 1985 by Cathy’s father Jim Pender and Johnny Pender, his brother. Cathy runs the welding office and she and Jim run the welding shop.

     The Railroad Remnants story really starts in 2014 when Pender Brothers, Inc. bought the contract to remove the last two and a half miles of the Port Royal railroad track.  From Railroad Remnants, “The Port Royal, SC Railroad…The railroad was chartered in 1856. Construction began in 1870 and was completed to Augusta, GA in 1873. It ran from 1870 until 2003 when it was abandoned. Then in 2011 the demo of it began to build what is now known as the Spanish Moss Trail, a bicycle/walking trail. For over 100 years it carried passengers, freight and future Marines to Port Royal.”

     Jim Pender says “We bought that contract to take up the tracks because it was right outside the shop and we could keep all the remnants from the rock to the spikes, crossties and rail. After we pulled it all up, we sold the crossties and rail.” But there were still thousands of spikes and other metal pieces left over.

     Cathy says, “I said don’t scrap it- we can do something with it.” So they repurposed industrial containers and stored about 25,000 railroad spikes and various metal clips and plates from the tracks for an undefined future use. And there they sat.

Word Spikes

     The idea to create art from the discarded spikes was born when Cathy was scrolling through Facebook two years ago. She says, “I saw a Christmas tree made from welded horseshoes and thought ‘I could make that,’ so I went in the shop and I made the Christmas tree. Then I started messing around and I made the words ‘Joy’ and ‘Love’ out of the old railroad spikes.” She took pictures of her work and put them on Facebook. She says, “Next thing I know I was taking orders.” Her Dad Jim chimes in, “She made one or two words and it made me jealous. So I joined in.”

     The process they use to create words from spikes starts with the bead blaster, a large piece of machinery which ‘blasts’ the metal with glass beads and takes the rust off. But Cathy says, “We like keeping the patina on the spikes so we have to be careful how much we blast them.” After the spikes come out of the bead blaster it is time to ‘heat and beat.’ The ‘heat’ part comes from putting the spikes in one of the two forges in their workshop.

     Cathy says, “Dad should have been born in the horse and buggy age, because he already had a coal and propane forges here at the shop, in fact they have been here for about 30 years.” They generally use the propane forge, which enables Cathy and Jim to control the temperature better than coal forge. After being in the forge for about 5 minutes, the spikes are around an astounding 2000 degrees hot.

     The ‘beat’ step is exactly as it sounds-  they beat the long part of the spikes in order to draw them  out from their original six to six and a half inches to eight inches, the length needed to make an individual letter. Have you ever tried to change the length of a piece of iron or steel by hand? It is as hard as it sounds. Jim was able to track down the only piece of equipment they bought, a ‘trip hammer’ which they use to lengthen the red hot spikes. Before the trip hammer, they would laboriously beat the spike on the anvil until they got the desired length. The trip hammer does the ‘beating for them,’ making the process significantly easier.

     They only have a short window of time to beat the spike into the desired shape of a letter or number. Those moments go rapidly and Cathy and Jim have become very adept at creating a letter quickly. These skills took hours of work to develop, as Jim says “It took time, and trial and error, to develop the letters from then to what we do now.”

     What they do with the finished letters is create names, all kinds of different names. They create family names, place names, business names, even pet names, that can hang on a wall, stand alone on a mantle or table, or even have stakes welded to them so they can stick in the ground.

Words of Art

     Every ‘word of art’ is a one of its kind because every letter created is distinct. One “A” is different from the other “A”’s because each spike is different, before and after it is forged and transformed into an individual letter. In addition, the two blacksmiths bring their own artistic sensibility to each piece. Cathy says, “I get excited with every word I start, even if I have made it before. Each is unique.”      Jim makes the point with several versions of the letter “E,” illustrating perfectly the individuality of each and every letter created. The letters then create words and as Jim says, “Much more go into a word than creating each letter. You have to keep the same height, make it look right, make it so you can hang it or put it on a stand. You need to gauge where it will balance, where to weld a hook.” A typical word takes four to six hours to create.

     Their work is more than the repurposing of old railroad spikes. “These are Port Royal artifacts,” Jim says, and “We turn history into heirlooms.” Jim also says, “We have a lot of pride in what we do. A letter we make might be acceptable to a lot of people but if we don’t like it we don’t use it.”

     In addition Cathy and Jim have created new and interesting projects that go beyond a family or place name, such as a five foot long sign for a local plantation, numerical coordinates and bottle openers and oyster knives. Cathy and Jim recently made two sets of deer antlers from the railroad spikes, both as gifts for retiring Marines. Jim also makes mini anvils using the railroad iron.

     They have also donated words of art to CAPA and to the SC Water Fowl Association for fundraisers. Their work is reaching all corners of the world, including Japan and Australia. Pretty good for a two person operation that only advertises on Facebook!


     Cathy says, “The best part is the relationship we’ve developed and the time spent with my Dad. My family is big and we have always been close, but its one thing to be close with your parents and it’s another to call them your friend. And I can truly say my parents are my friends, and once we started blacksmithing, that bond got closer. To me that is priceless, and makes the blacksmithing come easy.”   She says “This has been a huge bonding experience for both of us.” Jim’s pride in his daughter is evident and one can see how much he enjoys being in their business together.

Portable Blacksmiths 

     They have such a good time working together that they spent a considerable amount of time creating a portable blacksmith shop in order to take their shop on the road to craft shows and community events. Ingeniously they used a pop-up camper as the base, and it includes a portable forge so they can give demonstrations and create art at events. Jim got the idea from watching other crafters and what it entailed to be in a festival. He says, “You have to load all of your merchandise, tables and tent to go to the festival, unload it when you get there, load it all up to leave and unload it again when you get home. That’s a lot of loading and unloading; and all of our stuff is heavy.” Cathy says, “With our portable blacksmith shop there is much less to handle to participate in the craft fairs. Not to mention the crowd it draws because of its looks and the sound of our hammers hitting hot steel on the anvil. “

Forging Plans

     After two years of working together, Cathy and Jim are looking forward to continuing Railroad Remnants and taking their work to the next level. She has ideas that incorporate found driftwood and Jim’s mind is always working on the next project, such as the custom  trestle table he recently made from railroad pieces for a client. She says, “I have lots of ideas for the future. I never expected this when  I took ‘Love’ and ‘Joy’ to Facebook, it really has been a whirlwind!”

     Their genuine respect and affection for each other shines through their humor, and the jokes fly as much as the sparks from the anvil. When asked about retirement Jim answers that no, retirement is not an option because ”she works me like a borrowed mule. You can quote me on that.” Cathy laughs and says “The fun part is hanging out with him”.  To keep up with this father /daughter duo follow them on Facebook at : Railroad Remnants by Cathy Pender Emmert.