Q Where was home before moving to Kiawah?
A For the first fifty-nine years of my life, St. Louis was my home. After high school, I had the opportunity to attend the University of Wisconsin-Stout to seek further education and to play baseball. I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in industrial education and went back home to teach. After five years as a high school teacher and coach, I spent two years in the Army, and then I went back to Stout for my master’s degree. I remained at the same high school for a total of thirty years, the last ten as principal.
Q Do you remember your first visit to Kiawah?
A Yes, very clearly. Joan Avioli, a respected community leader on Kiawah, was our English chairperson at the high school where I was principal. At that time she and her husband owned a cottage in Inlet Cove and generously offered it to our family for the week during spring break. I immediately accepted, and after she left my office, I scurried to find an atlas to see where Kiawah was located. I was sure it wasn’t in Hawaii!
Before we arrived at the entrance to Kiawah, I remember the beautiful drive down Bohicket Road, with the magnificent live oak branches like a canopy. Our children, very young at the time, really enjoyed everything about Kiawah. They splashed in the ocean, made sand castles, found shells, and fed the seagulls.
Q What were the important things you were looking for as you started your property search?
A I always thought about retiring in a warmer climate, near the ocean, with a house on a golf course. Because a principal’s job is high profile, and at times stressful, I was ready to move into a more tranquil, serene, low-density community. I wanted something just shy of the Witness Protection Program. For the first few years here I was known as Shirley’s husband, a welcome role reversal.
Q What’s a uniquely Kiawah experience for you?
A At one of our early property owners’ dinners, we met a delightful couple who had just moved to the Island. As our friendship grew, it just so happened that the husband owned a fishing boat. We went on many offshore trips where we caught multiple species of fish, including amber jack, red snapper, and black sea bass. And on my favorite trip we caught a beautiful sailfish. You can’t have that much fun on the Mississippi River!
Q I hear you are very involved around the Island.
A I currently serve on the Kiawah Island Community Association Board. It’s a way for me to give back to the Island community, to volunteer time that others before me have offered. Much of the Board’s work relates to strategic planning, keeping the association financially sound, and protecting and enhancing the beauty of the Island.
Additionally I participated in an informal school visit to Haut Gap Middle School with a group of former administrators, superintendants, and principals. We visited classes, talked with teachers and students, and then delivered a feedback session with the school’s principal.
I also volunteered for four golf tournaments. My first was as a hole marshal for the UBS Cup tournament on Cassique. That brought with it a very interesting experience for me. I had two chairs set up at the championship tees during the Pro-Am round. When Gary Player’s group passed through he joined me for a five-minute conversation concerning schools and education in the South compared to schools in South Africa. What an unexpected pleasure that was!
Since that tournament I served as chairperson of the Monster Board Committee for the Senior PGA Championship and the PGA Championship last year, both held at The Ocean Course.
Q Tell me about your family.
A Shirley and I have three children and six granddaughters. Our oldest son moved to Charlotte, North Carolina, last year. Our grandchildren live in Kansas and Tennessee, but they love to visit Kiawah as often as they are able. We never run out of things to entertain them with…the beach, bike trails, water parks, the Nature Center, plus Charleston attractions, like the [South Carolina] Aquarium, the Children’s Museum, RiverDogs baseball games, and Fort Sumter.
Q Tell me about the wildlife. Do you see a lot?
A The grandchildren love to see the deer and alligators on every visit. Their excitement for wildlife sightings has never subsided.
When our own children were small, they witnessed a bobcat snatch a bird as it tried to fly away from the front lawn of the Osprey Golf Course Club House. They have never forgotten that experience and still share that story with their own children.