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WHAT MAKES A PERSON INTRIGUING? According to Webster’s Dictionary, it’s someone that has the capacity to fascinate us, to arouse our curiosity. The people profiled here range from a 17-year-old pilot to a 73-yearold skater dude. One of these people represented Japan in the Summer Olympics. Another distributes 3-D art through Walgreens. Take a closer look at these people, These intriguing people living around us here in the Lowcountry.


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hen discussing the various projects monopolizing his time, Tom Shimada keeps coming back to the same word: Partner. Much like his professional tennis career — during which he climbed as high as No. 40 in the world as a doubles specialist — Shimada seems to have a knack for building strong partnerships in business, as well. The longtime Hilton Head Island resident’s business ventures include a role as president of Exton Properties, his family’s real estate company, and co-ownership of Kurama Japanese steakhouse on Hilton Head and ThincSavannah, a “co-working” space for freelancers, mobile workers and entrepreneurs. Of course, Shimada has never strayed far from tennis since storming the youth circuit as a promising, young player in his native Philadelphia. The son of Japanese immigrants, Shimada turned pro right out of high school in 1993 and went on to represent Japan in the Davis Cup and the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney. He also won three ATP doubles titles and was ranked in the world top 100 for all but one week of a span of four-plus years from February 2000 to July 2004.  Shimada still works as an instructor at Van Der Meer Tennis Academy once a week, specializing in working with promis-

ing, young Japanese players at the academy or touring pros from Japan who stop in while playing in the U.S. His wife, Miki, teaches QuickStart Tennis to players age 10 and under, and their daughters, ages 3 and 6, have taken up the sport. The entrepreneurial spirit that has made Shimada successful in business — something he inherited from immigrant parents who chased and caught the elusive American dream — and his athletic background converged in March 2011, when he led a group of athletes who founded Mission A2J (Athletes Assisting Japan) to raise funds to help those affected by a massive earthquake and tsunami in his ancestral homeland. The group raised more than $200,000, Shimada said, with half going to the Red Cross’ relief efforts and the other half earmarked for helping to rebuild the athletic infrastructure in the affected area. The impact of that work — as well as the magnitude of the disaster — hit home when Shimada and some of his associates from Mission A2J visited Japan over the summer. “We got to visit the affected area,” Shimada said. “We saw some amazing stuff that people have done as far as getting things back to some sense of normalcy.” Thanks, in large part, to the help of great partners like Shimada. M

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akota Sabados, a 17-yearold senior and honor student at Heritage Academy, has just received clearance to set off on another adventure. Whether it be the Florida Keys or the Outer Banks, Sabados can be there in a short time in his Cherokee 140. “My dad and I like to fl y down to the Golden Isles in Georgia, borrow a crew car at the airport and drive over to Steak ‘n Shake for some burgers,” Sabados said. “Besides being a treat, the fl ight helped me accrue cross country hours that were necessary for my ratings.” This all started when as a 4 year old, Dakota’s step-dad, George Darren, himself an accomplished pilot, began to take Dakota to Hilton Head Airport after picking him up from Montessori School. Dakota became enchanted with everything about aviation. He took his fi rst fl ight in a light plane at age 4 and was instantly hooked. By age 6, he knew all the integral parts of an airplane and why and how they fl ew. He could explain Bernoulli’s Principal in detail and did so at his fi rst 44

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science fair while in elementary school. His fascination continued and he hungrily devoured everything associated with aviation. It was midway through his 16th year that his dad surprised him one day by taking him to the airport and introducing him to Bill Shank, who would become his first instructor and the man responsible for Dakota attaining his private and instrument ratings. Dakota received his private license shortly after his 17th birthday. He fulfilled all the requirements at 16; however, the FAA will not issue the license until an airman reaches the age of 17, thus making Dakota one of the youngest to ever achieve this status. He set his sights on an instrument rating and at this point his parents decided that it was cost effective to get him his own airplane.

Dakota went on to get his instrument rating three months later, making him possibly the youngest instrument rated pilot in the United States while still a very young 17. An instrument rating allows a pilot to navigate in the clouds and this rating is generally reserved for commercial pilots, although many general aviation pilots realize the importance and thus strive to attain this rating. “My final goal was to be the youngest pilot ever to receive a commercial rating,” Sabados said. “The FAA will not issue a commercial rating until a pilot reaches the age of 18. I was allowed to fulfill all the requirements save the commercial check ride while still 17. I needed 250 total hours along with various other requirements which I was able to achieve because I was fortunate enough to have my own plane.”

Dakota went on to attain his commercial rating, making him presently the youngest commercial pilot in the U.S. and one of a handful of known U.S. pilots to attain this rating at 18. He credits Scott Martin, a career aviator and test pilot for Gulfstream, with making his commercial license a reality. Dakota spent many hours in the air with Scott and his 19-year-old son Spencer, training together and finally reaching their goals in aviation. Dakota has also received FAA endorsements in high performance aircraft and a tail dragger rating. He achieved these ratings in Scott’s 1930’s vintage Stearman bi-plane, which can be seen at various times performing aerobatics off the south end of the island. “There is nothing quite like performing the ‘inside loop’ in

the Stearman,” says Dakota, as his eyes begin to sparkle at the very thought. When he is not flying, Dakota plays lead and rhythm guitar with his dad’s 60s rock band, Flashback. He has been playing guitar since he was 11 and is also accomplished on the keyboards. He also sang in many performances at the Hilton Head High School while there and last year inherited singing responsibilities with Flashback due to the departure of the band’s longtime lead singer. Dakota states that he has also had the privilege of sitting in with island favorites such as The Beagles and David Wingo to name a few and says music is his third great love, aviation being second. When asked his first great love, he says without hesitation, “My mom, of course!” M

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or most graduates, a gap year is a chance to unwind after high school, take a breather before college, and maybe backpack around Europe. Nick Bergelt is not most graduates. Rather than rest on his laurels after graduating from HHIHS, he spent his gap year learning the ins and outs of the island’s complicated real estate development and sales worlds. For a start. “It was the most important year of my life,” he said. “Immersing myself in that world and being around people who have lived it and breathed it for years shaped my future.” That “year off” jumpstarted a list of accomplishments for this remarkable young man that defy belief. The entrepreneurship program at USC’s Moore School of Business is enough to keep anyone busy, but Bergelt supplemented his scholarship by investing his real estate earnings in further development around campus, renting out housing to his fellow students. Despite the dizzying workload, being a full-time student and landlord was still not too much for Bergelt to


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handle. Not when there were loftier dreams to pursue. “During my senior year I developed a concept for a sustainable restaurant,” he said. Having worked in the F&B industry around the island since his teens, Bergelt had years of experience in food service. And while your average busboy merely concerns himself with clearing a table, Bergelt was taking notes. “I always thought there were better ways they could be doing things.” The result of his keen insights into sustainability and years of restaurant experience was World Oriental Kitchen (WOK), a LEED certified restaurant concept built from the ground up on Charleston’s famous King Street. People quickly took notice. “In doing what I was doing, I got attention because Charleston was developing a green business community,” he said. “There was a city-wide push for sustainable business and I became kind of the poster boy for that.” If you think running a successful restaurant was enough, you haven’t been paying attention. Bergelt was asked to sit on the board of the College of Charleston where he developed a sustainability in hospitality class. He taught two nights a week while running the restaurant. It would be four years before he finally took a vacation. And by vacation, we of course mean he merely busied himself serving as a chairman of StartupSC and co-founding Free Lunch Friday, a national meeting of the top 100 entrepreneurs in cities across the

country. “We began with the 12 cities in major metropolitan areas with the biggest potential,” he said. “The long-range ideology is to morph it into an entrepreneurship university.” During his downtime he brought in American Airlines to sponsor his project. So, you know; standard vacation activities. But every prodigal son must by definition return, and Bergelt felt the allure of Hilton Head Island calling him home. The story of CharBar’s opening has been well documented, as has its immediate meteoric impact on the local restaurant scene. “I knew the island didn’t have a high-end burger place. I wanted to make it back and plant my stake in the ground,” he said. Bergelt attended HHCA until 8th grade, and found his chef through a chance encounter with former HHCA classmate Charles Pejeau online (“I was cruising through Facebook one night, not looking for a future chef, when this awesome picture of a burger shows up in my feed. I look over at my fiancé and say, ‘I have to call him up.’”). CharBar is currently building its legend here on the island, and while he plays his cards close to the vest, Bergelt hints that the island may just be the start of bigger and better things for the burgeoning burger brand. “We can’t really talk about it,” he teased. Although off the record, rest assured big things are coming. Whatever happens next for CharBar, Bergelt’s brief but astounding history of success so far tells us that Hilton Head’s prodigal son is only getting started. M January 2014 47

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on Cofall may not be as well-known as famed skateboarder Tony Hawk, but to some of his youngest students, he is just as daring. The Hilton Head resident took up skateboarding 3½ years ago – when he visited a skatepark with his grandson. Yes, this intrepid skater is 73, and on his first attempt on the board, went up in the air and fell flat on his back. There was only one thing to do. “From then on I was determined I was going to learn this thing,” Cofall said. “I don’t give up and I intended to conquer skating. I ended up meeting a lot of kids and I now teach the young ones for Fuel.” Fuel is synonymous with extreme sports, something that drives Cofall despite numerous resulting injuries. The company sponsors athletes in BMX, wind surfing, surfing, snowboarding, mountain biking and other wild endeavors. “I’ve injured my wrist, hand, ribs, torn the retina in my eye and that’s just since I’ve been skating,” he said. “I just haven’t given up yet. It’s actually a little stupid, what I do, but mentally I feel I’m about 14 years old. Then I look in the mirror and I say ‘Oh, you, what are you doing?’” Cofall, his wife, Kathy, and their two children moved to the island 35 years ago from Ohio. “Kathy and I have been married 52 years and she doesn’t even come to the skatepark with me, which makes me kind of mad because all the other mothers are over there watching,” Cofall said laughing. He also spends time with his grandson. “My grandson and I are inseparable. We skate and do lots of things together. We ride motorcycles, I have a dirt bike and I go around the track with him,” said Cofall. “I raced in Ohio when I was in my 30s. I taught myself to ski. I’ve had sailboats, catamarans, participated in the senior games wind surfing. Now I’m learning to snowboard.” Cofall read something that describes his efforts. “Determination is the moment before you’re ready to do something incredibly stupid,” he said. “So when you’re standing on the top of the rim about 10 feet up in the air, that moment before you drop in, you’re determined.” That doesn’t keep him from “dropping in” the skatepark in on the island or in Bluffton. He also gets a kick out of helping first-timers “I teach the kids how and I get quite a thrill when they first drop in. They think it’s so cool.” Has anyone tried to talk him out of this sport? “Initially my kids and wife tried to talk me out of it. They say I’m crazy for doing it. I’m almost ready to give it up, but not yet,” Cofall said. “I see something I want to try and then I want to do it well.” M January 2014 49

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is mind, he says, churns up ideas 24/7. His thoughts come so fast that he often moves on to the next sentence before fi nishing the last. By his own admission, he’s a workaholic. Out of all this energy has arisen an amazing body of art created by Ralph Sutton. “I’ve done everything,” Sutton said, over the past half century that he has wielded pen, brush and scissors going back to his high school days when he cranked out crazy cartoons that wound up in the school’s showcase. “I’ve never done anything but art work” during his career, he added with satisfaction during a wide-ranging interview. “I never had a job.” Sutton, who lives in Hilton Head Plantation, has been best known in recent years for the 3-Dimensional art pieces he produces behind glass in shadow boxes made just for them. They feature familiar characters out of Disney, such as Mickey and Minnie Mouse, King Features’ Betty Boop and Popeye, Warner Brothers Tweety, Universal Press Syndicate’s Garfi eld, Mars and others. He also has one for Cola-Cola. The fi gures and scenery in the shadow boxes are made of a special paper that is dyed, not painted, to replicate the colors in their original form. He has a battery of 61 colors that can be used by the factory in China that makes them. Sutton says the largest distributer of his 3-D art is Walgreen’s, which has over 7,000 drug stores around the country that stock them. He also has other retail store chains that buy the 3-D products to distribute around their systems. His latest venture in 3-D work has been creating adorable replicas of people’s dogs, usually illustrated with a quirky feature. These can be purchased at Legends sports store in Main Street Village on Hilton Head Island. Buyers have their choice of a ready-made shadow box of various breeds of dogs for $195 or may custom order one to be specially made of their own dog for $295 and up. Jerry Glenn, father of Legends’ owner Lori Glenn, who helps out in the store, said those placing a custom order must submit a photo


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of their dog and are asked to tell Sutton about one characteristic of their pet. “When one lady came in to pick up a custom shadow box of her dog, she cried,” Glenn said. “It was a little Pomeranian. She said it captured her dog.” Among Sutton’s dog art is a sweet keeper he did of his own dog, Daisy. Sutton also did the framed caricatures that fill one wall of the bar at Frankie Bones restaurant in Main Street Village which depict regular patrons with a few celebrities mixed in. He said the owner originally wanted to do a mural of a New York scene, but the wall was too small, so they turned to the idea of the caricatures. Sutton worked from photos the restaurant took of the regulars. Bill and Carolyn Sprague, of Hilton Head, who are among the patrons featured on one of the drawings, she with a lot of teeth, said they enjoy seeing their likeness on the wall. “I wasn’t smiling, I was laughing,” she pointed out. Other endeavors Sutton has under taken up over the years include logos, including the Mets, a favorite, promotion for a cruise line, a large poster for a young man’s bar mitzvah showing various highlights of his life, writing and illustrating children’s books and 3-D art of the Twin Towers in New York, which were leveled by two airplanes in a terrorist attack on Sept. 11, 2001. Sutton does the Twin Towers as a fund-raiser for Tuesday’s Child. He lets the promoters charge what they want and asks only to recover the cost of the boxes in which the art is framed. Sutton’s art life began by drawing zany cartoons at Brookfield High School in Ohio, near the Pennsylvania border. He was born in Sharon, Pa. After graduation, he went to Youngstown State University in Ohio where he says he graduated

with the highest grade one can get in art after exhausting all the art courses the school had and made up some new ones. A huge honor was admission of one of his art works as a freshman in a major show at Butler American Art Institute. He was enlisted to teach commercial art and design after graduating in 1970, and taught both beginners and advanced students. From there he branched out and founded an advertising agency in Youngstown with a friend from college that became the biggest in the area. In the meantime, Sutton had married his wife of 44 years, Linda, in 1969 – “She’s wonderful, I love her to death” - and began visiting Hilton Head Island. Thirty years ago, he and Linda moved to Hilton Head. “I just took off. I gave the agency (in Youngstown) to my partner and opened another one here.” Sutton says he got started in his 3-D art when they were expecting their daughter, Kristen, who’s now 24 and working for her master’s in psychology. “When my daughter wasn’t born yet, I did her room,” he explained. “I did one little piece and I thought, boy, I can cut this stuff out of paper and do it in 3-D. It was Minnie Mouse. And I started doing it and it took off. I have the original piece upstairs that I did for her. And I never framed it. I never put it in a frame. “I have three patents on it and a trademark — China, Canada and here. “I’m the only one in the country that does what I do in the way I do it,” he added. “Nobody has these. There are only two other people out there who even come close to what I’m doing and they’re photographic. I can do what they do, but they can’t do what I do because this is all created” from scratch as fresh art. Sutton said he finds his 3-D art January 2014 51

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NTRIGUING very satisfying because it is so creative. “This particular kind of art is very, very creative because you won’t see the thing until it’s done,” he explained. “I build it the way I see it, but you can’t see it until it’s finished. Sutton began his long relationship with Disney on a visit to Walgreen’s buyers in Chicago with his former business partner, Fred Wynne, also of Hilton Head Island, to try to get the store chain to take on his new product. He said he sent samples of his shadow boxes to Chicago and Walgreen’s invited them to come to Chicago to meet with them. So they went. “We walked into Walgreens…and we were sitting in our cubicle waiting for our turn to see the buyers and Fred and I had no idea what we were doing,” he recalled. “They came out to us — we had been waiting since 9 o’clock — to take us in the back. They took us into a room that had a giant conference table…and they had five people sitting at the conference table.” Sutton and Wynne would learn the five had flown in from Disneyworld. “They had all my stuff spread out that I had sent up and they said they hadn’t seen

a product like this in decades,” Sutton went on. “And I still remember him saying that. So we got our first order from Disney. And I designed it. “I said I’ll do Mickey through the ages. So I did four Mickeys from when he was Steamboat Willie to the present. They bought all four of those.” That deal with Disney, he said, was the first big job they had. Over the years Sutton has met many celebrities — particularly in the sports and racing worlds — and done caricatures of them which he has asked them to sign for him. He smiles as he relates his experiences. “I’m running around like a kid and meeting all these guys,” he said. “They’re all so nice,” he added. In football, he has collected all of the Mannings — Archie, Peyton and Eli. In tennis there are Vitas Gerulatis, Bjorn Borg, llie Natasse — and Chris Evert . He also has collected one from Jan Stevens, the golfer. In auto racing, he has sketches of Richard Petty, and his son, Kyle Petty, from NASCAR , and Bobby Rahal, from Indy racing. He also has one of Arlen Ness, custom designer of

Harley Davidsons and one-of-a-kind motorcycles. And many more. “I love cars and motorcycles,” he declared. His encounter with Chris Evert was particularly memorable. Sutton said he caught up with her at the last tournament she played at Sea Pines, which she won. “To show you how far back that was, the first prize was $75,000. Now that’s up into the millions.” He said he did a caricature of her in advance and wanted to get her to sign it, but she wasn’t allowed to come out after the tournament. The reason she couldn’t come out, he later learned, was there had been death threats. So he was able to talk a guy guarding the entrance into taking it in to her. “She signed it and sent it back out with a little note that said ‘Meet me in the parking before I get on the plane at 4:30,’“ he said. “My wife and I are walking over there and here comes her and her mother — nobody else around — and I came up and I had the picture and she gave me a big hug and she said ‘You made me more voluptuous than I really am’ “Chris Evert was so nice.” M


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udley King moved to Hilton Head 30 years ago to get involved in the community, and that he did, wholeheartedly. After establishing a successful career with Coca-Cola and spending the early years of his career moving often, he sought the opportunity to settle down and become involved in the community. He began to look for a business to purchase and found Plantation Interiors on Hilton Head. Since then he has made philanthropy his full-time job for nearly 25 years. King has donated his time and talents to: Hilton Head Island Community Association, Arts & Cultural Council of Hilton Head, Arts Center of Coastal Carolina, Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce, The Children’s Center, Caring Coins Foundation, Community Foundation of the Lowcountry, and most recently Hilton Head Island Institute. To name a few. He combines business savvy with compassion, a winning combination that has proved instrumental in many of the organizations he has assisted in getting off the ground. King takes a hands-on approach. “It is the only way to get involved,” he says. “You are not fully aware of how an organization is run unless you get involved. It is a lot easier to make decisions and give advice if you are hands on.” In 1989 King took part in the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce Leadership program, an opportunity that would introduce him to many of the area’s charitable organizations and prove as the foundation for his calling to Lowcountry philanthropy. Although he has dedicated his time to a multitude of charitable organizations in the Lowcountry, he has most notably been involved with Arts Center of Coastal Carolina and The Children’s Center. King played a key role in the founding of the Self Family Arts Center, now known as Arts Center of Coastal Carolina. Serving as vice chairman and chairman of the Finance Committee and treasurer, King managed the financing and construction of the new building. In 2007 King was recognized as Volunteer of the Year, for contributing his time towards a successful wine auction, and undoubtedly the countless hours he devoted to ensuring the success of the organization over the years. Due to his experience in building the arts center, King also played a crucial role in the construction of the new facility for The Children’s Center. In King’s own words, he “fell in love with the organization.” “They care for kids six weeks to six years. A lot of kids grow up there. Eighty percent of the families are need-based. The teachers have been there a long time. It is a real loving atmosphere.” King has always sought to maintain a low profile, that’s the way he wants it. However, at the 2013 Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce annual ball, King received the Alice Glenn Doughtie Good Citizenship Award. It was a recognition and credit that was incredibly well deserved. “I’m not an up-front person. I respect those that do work in the spotlight, it’s just that I would rather help people behind the scenes,” said King. Although always engaged in charitable activity, King is a devoted family man as well. He has been married to his wife Rita for 48 years; they have four children and 14 grandchildren. M January 2014 55

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hen discussing telemarketing scams targeting Americans, longtime Hilton Head Island resident and real estate attorney, Herb Novit recently cautioned, “You get nothing for nothing.” This traditional wisdom, so much a part of his Southern charm, came in handy recently when a man impersonating a deputy sheriff called him. “He identifi ed himself as a ‘major’ and informed me that a warrant was out for my arrest. He said I had missed magistrate’s jury duty in Beaufort.” To avoid immediate incarceration and pay the fi ne, he instructed Herb to buy two Green Dot prepaid debit cards for $1,000. “Anyone who knows the card’s pin number and password can obtain the cash anywhere in the world,” Novit said. But anyone who knows Herb should’ve known better: As a lawyer with good instincts and former naval offi cer familiar with military jargon, he knew that a deputy with the rank of “major” wouldn’t be delegated to night warrant serving duty. Herb’s second clue was the poor scammer’s mispronunciation of “Beaufort.” After summing up the situation with some amusement, Herb told the man, “Come and arrest me.” And when the scammer never showed up, he called the sheriff’s department. “Everyone has a story. Everybody’s life is interesting if you just listen,” said Herb.


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“Novit” is an abbreviation for what he noted as probably a much longer Russian surname. His European ancestors arrived in America in the late 1800s and early 1900s. “The port at Ellis Island was full, so they sent one of the ships to Charleston,” Novit said. “But my paternal grandfather, Zalin, didn’t know the difference.” America was America. Like most great American immigrant stories — part luck, part persistence, and a whole lot of hard work — his grandfather’s modest start as a peddler in the new market-driven economy paid-off when he opened Zalin’s Department Store, a family business that flourished in Walterboro. In 1936, his mother, Rosalie Lipsitz, a Beaufort resident, and her husband, Harry Zalin of Walterboro moved and opened their own dry goods store in Belton, a small town southwest of Spartanburg. Herb was born a year later and what followed is an extraordinary story of personal sacrifice and heroism. To help out during the Great Depression, 22-year-old Rosalie would take month-old Herbert to the store, balancing her work demands with his infant needs. One day, after she had just fi ished dressing the storefront window and had stepped outside with Herb in his carriage to appraise it, a large black automobile jumped the curb and came barreling at his mother and baby carriage. In a split-second decision demonstrating indubitable love for her child, Rosalie shoved the carriage out of the way, saving her son but losing her life in return. “After all these years, it still brings tears to my eyes to remember her sacrifice,” Herb reflected His family’s ageless values still reverberate today: when asked what gets him through hard

times, Herb replied, “Personal relationships; initiative; respect for others; the ability to stand up when you get knocked down; and hard work: spending as much time as it takes to get the job done.” Herb first visited Hilton Head Island in 1966 after serving a stint in the Navy and finishing law school at the University of South Carolina. As a rising partner in Beaufort’s prominent Dowling Law Firm, “I drove back and forth to meet and work with Charles Fraser’s real estate sales and closing people in Sea Pines. Few permanent residents lived here, but I’ll never forget driving onto E. Beach Lagoon and seeing Francis Hipp’s enormous beachfront home. I couldn’t believe such grand homes existed in South Carolina!” Francis, along with his brothers, Boyd Calhoun and Herman, built the Greenville-based Liberty Corporation, one of South Carolina’s premier insurance companies. Herb partnered with his friend and fellow attorney, Charles A. Scarminach in the early 1980s. He credits his loyal relationships with colleagues in an otherwise competitive, highpressure real estate law environment as vital to his success. “I thoroughly enjoy practicing law on Hilton Head Island. We strictly adhere to all ethical requirements and the interests of our clients, but we all get along well together.” Herb permanently moved to the island in 1975. “I’m lucky because I’ve had wonderful, supportive relationships with so, so many people, including my paternal aunt, Bessie Novit and her husband, Albert Novit, who raised me in Walterboro after my mother’s death. My family shaped my life — it’s hard to go anywhere in South Carolina and not find a relative!” M January 2014 57

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onty Jett’s first day broadcasting live on the radio was one he will never forget; in fact it was a day America will never forget. He was 15 years old living in Denmark, South Carolina and had spent the last three months training for his first on-air broadcast by reading the U.S. News & World Report into a tape recorder. The station owner would critique Jett and let him know when he was trailing off, not articulating as he should be, or not pronouncing an ‘-ing,’ and so on. After three months of rehearsing into a microphone Jett’s first, live, on-air moment was on November 22, 1963, the day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. Fifty years and many music genres later, Jett is still doing what he loves and has completely tuned in to the community. Jett is a true son of South Carolina and knows the area well. Growing up in a small town then spending time establishing his career in Aiken, Sumter, Columbia, Charleston, and of course, Hilton Head, where he has spent the last 26 years with Adventure Radio Group/L&L Broadcasting. Although Jett has been fortunate to have many career highlights and memorable moments, some are certainly more prominent than others. In 1999 Jett broadcast live on all seven stations while Lowcountry residents evacuated the area for Hurricane Floyd. “Growing up in South Carolina I knew all the back roads well and was able to get them off of the interstate. I later received a letter from the Governor, and mayors from several towns thanking me for staying behind and providing the live broadcast. I think residents appreciated listening to a familiar voice when leaving town,” said Jett. One of the biggest successes he has seen in his career is the growth and popularity of The Island AM1130/FM93.5. Since 1988 Jett had climbed as high as No. 2 and No. 3 by local ratings, however had not yet made it to the top spot on the charts, that is, until he got behind the mic for The Island AM1130/FM93.5. Broadcasting from 1-95 to Sea Pines, they implemented what Jett always knew to be true, “Be local, relate, play good music, give them news, traffic, weather, and tell them good stories. I have five children, so I certainly have a lot that people can relate to,” he said. Although Jett keeps a busy schedule with work and family, rarely does a community event pass by, that you will not see Jett present. He donates his time to local charitable organizations, rarely saying no. He is a strong supporter of United Way of the Lowcountry and Volunteers in Medicine. He also supports the Hilton Head Island Rec Center and the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Lowcountry, as his children spent time there growing up. “These organizations do so much for the community. Certainly I can get up there for free, it’s the least I can do,” says Jett. M January 2014 59

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o say Coleman Peterson is a “go getter” is an understatement. The retired Walmart executive serves on three corporate boards, is a published author, executive coach, public speaker and owns his own human resources consulting firm. When it came to meeting his wife of almost 40 years, Peterson took the same approach: “Go get her.” One fateful fall night in 1974, Cole noticed Shirley as the two waited for a flight from Atlanta to Chicago, where they both lived at the time. “I thought she was absolutely stunning,” says Cole, who approached her when they landed in the Windy City and introduced himself. “She looked at me like something she found in her salad.” But she must have seen potential in the young corporate executive, because she allowed him to give her a ride home. The two were engaged on Valentine’s Day 1975 and married that May. “He is one of the best guys you’ll ever, ever meet,” says Shirley, whose nickname is “Peaches.” “He is a wonderful man.” Theirs is a typical Hilton Head love story. They bought a timeshare early in their marriage and vacationed here every spring. “We had such an emotional attachment to (Hilton Head),” Cole says. “As the kids told me later, the reason they loved Hilton Head Island is because it was the one dedicated time of year when they would have me all to themselves.” The hardworking father already had put in 20 years in corporate America when he took a position with Walmart in 1994. They moved to the company’s headquarters in Arkansas and Cole told Shirley if she’d give him 10 years there, he’d retire wherever she wanted to live. As that 10-year mark inched closer, the couple visited several areas of the country looking for the perfect community in which to spend the next phase of their lives. But it turned out they were searching for something they’d already found. “I came home one day and my wife said, ‘I don’t know why we’re traveling all over the place; I absolutely love Hilton Head, and that’s where I want to live.’” Shirley has wasted no time getting involved in island life. She is active on the board of the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina, and is the fund development committee chairman for Mitchelville Freedom Park. In her free time, the former counselor mentors high school students transitioning to college. Meanwhile her husband, who was credited with managing Walmart’s workforce through one of its largest and fastest periods of growth while simultaneously bringing more women and people of color into leadership positions, has settled into what his children call “faux retirement” by sitting on the corporate boards of J.B. Hunt Transport of Lowell, Ark., Build-A-Bear Workshop of St. Louis, and Cracker Barrel Restaurants of Lebanon, Tenn. “A lot of people say, ‘Cole, you retired at 57, why’d you retire from such a great job?’” he says. “But the job didn’t define me; there were a lot more things I wanted to do in life.” M January 2014 61

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p h o t o g r a p h e

risztian Lonyai’s life reads like a manual for risk-taking. If you have an idea, share it. If you have a passion, pursue it. If you meet someone who can teach you something, learn it. And if you find love, follow it. Krisztian, who moved to the area eight years ago, is an internationally acclaimed photographer, with a very impressive portfolio. He’s been taking photos of some of the biggest names and brands of the fashion world and show business, including names such as L’Oreal Paris, Iris Strubegger (topmodel), Marc Jacobs, US Cosmopolitan, Sony, Warner Music, Elle, Glamour and actor Mark Pellegrino. Krisztian studied economics following the guidance of his family. “My grandmother was a math genius, and I really think as I didn’t know what to do, I was just trusting their advice, but from early on I felt it wasn’t my calling.” After completing his studies he quickly turned his back on economics and started to explore life. “I did lots of different things, but I think the first time I felt I’m in the right place was in ‘97 when I started to work for GQ as their photo editor.” By this time he was taking photos himself but wasn’t considering doing it as his profession. That two year stint as a photo editor ended, but Krisztian quickly rebounded in the very different field of interior design. “I actually felt it wasn’t that far away. It was still about creating, art and esthetics, and I really enjoyed the very relaxed way all these fantastic designers approached every project they worked on. Probably I would have stayed in interior design, if I wouldn’t have felt that I needed to do something on my own.” And that willingness led him to send his photos to the then marketing director of Warner Music. “They gave me a newly signed band to shoot, and they ended up using my photos for their first album. That really jump-started my career, and quickly I became one of the most requested photographers in the music business.” As years passed Krisztian expanded his horizon taking photos for various magazines and clients. “I really like to capture people’s beauty,” Lonyai says. Eight years ago Krisztian fell in love and followed his heart to South Carolina. Though he misses Budapest, he likes living in the States. “I came to know some fantastic people here, and even thought I consider now this as my home and I love Americans, I”ll alway be a Hungarian living in the States. I love my heritage, and am very proud of where I come from. My country reflects who I am as well as my friends and family.” M


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e d u c a t o


hen Kristen Karszes started college, her goal was to become a

doctor. “I made it through my freshman year (at the College of Charleston) and my English professors kept saying I should be an English teacher,” she said. “Then I had to take organic chemistry. I called my dad (a chemist) nightly in tears. “So, when my dad asked me what I see when he said ‘helium,’ I said I see a red balloon and I’m running through a fi eld. He told me to change to English.” She did however, go on to study business administration at The Citadel, then married and moved to Amarillo, Texas, where she found she was “overqualifi ed and under-paid.” She taught school in Texas for several years, then got divorced and moved to Hilton Head because her parents were in Atlanta and “after the College of Charleston and The

Citadel, I loved South Carolina.” She then moved to Hilton Head Island and became an English teacher. For her students at Hilton Head High, it was a good decision. Karszes, an English teacher at the school, was recently named the 2013 Beaufort County Teacher of the Year. “It was a bit overwhelming,” she said. “I don’t even know it’s sunk in totally yet.” The process to become Teacher of the Year was arduous. Candidates are nominated by their school’s faculty and staff. A selection committee reviews the applications and the fi ve with the highest scores are named fi nalists. “The very fi rst day of school the superintendent came in and announced I was one of top fi ve for the district,” she said. The winner was announced at a breakfast in September. “My mom went with me and she said, ‘Are you dressed

OK?’ and I said it didn’t matter because I wasn’t going to win. Some of the other fi nalists were nervous, but I was going to eat and enjoy the day. “Then we went up and then they called me name!” One of the huge perks of being Teacher of the Year is the use of a new car during the year’s reign. “They took me outside to pick out the car (she chose a 2013 Cadillac CTS) and then went back to school and had a parade of champions. “They (the car dealership) are incredible,” she said. “It shows the community that they really support teachers.” So what does Karszes do that makes her special? To start, she teaches students at various levels of competency. “I do get kids who are behaviorally challenged and I get them to buy into learning. The passage rates have risen rapidly.” It’s not an easy job.

TEACHER OF THE YEAR BY SALLY MAHAN PHOTO BY W PHOTOGRAPHY “Over the years teaching is one job that gets harder every year, and the longer you do it, it should become easier,” she said. “We’re almost like engineers. Education has been around forever but we’ve had to change out product and it has to be able to excel and move our world and country forward. “Technology is a mixed blessing,” she said. “The kids have so much more knowledge. The way they learn has changed. That can be frustrating because it’s hard to keep up. It takes up so much time I get up sometimes at 2 in the morning to grade papers.” So what makes it worth it? “One kid in particular had his head down during a writing assignment. I asked him to please practice one more time and he went to town. And the essay was all about me! He’s a senior and doing fabulously. That’s what makes it all worth it.” M January 2014 63

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o u s i d e r

ife plays funny tricks sometimes. One day you’re running a small landscaping business, the next you’re a well-known television personality. For Tim “Treeboy” Bush, life has been fi lled with unexpected twists and turns. Bush, who now lives on Hilton Head Island with his wife, Roberta, has his roots in Indianapolis. When he got out of high school, he worked for the Indy Parks & Recreation Department. He spent 18 years there doing a variety of jobs, including being a seasonal laborer, mowing lawns and learning about horticulture. “I just read constantly,” he said. “I wanted to know every tree I cut around.” He would later transfer to the city nursery. “I was there for six or seven months and somehow I became the person to run the nursery and forestry division.” Meanwhile, he attended Purdue University. After a stint as manager of a large Indianapolis park, he went on to become the manager of Eagle Creek Park. Over time he got into the sports marketing fi eld, working for the city of Indy on the Pan Am games. Ultimately what he wanted to do was start a landscaping business called Treeboy. “I’m just a guy who likes to be outside with the trees and didn’t want to be in meetings with a tie on. “I wanted to name it Bush Landscaping, but another business had it, so Treeboy it was,” Bush said. “I didn’t mean it to become a moniker.” But a moniker it became. His appearances on a local TV news program led to him becoming a regular, and since the name of his business would be right under his name on TV, people started calling him Treeboy. “It makes a much better nickname that a business name,” he said, laughing. As he branched out, his segments took off and people started to recognize him. “The next thing I know I’m a general assignment reporter; I went to Sydney to cover the Olympics and to Houston to cover a space fl ight, and people just started accepting me as Treeboy.” After a few other zigs and zags, he landed on Hilton Head. “We always had a dream to live here,” he said. And even though he’s “retired,” Bush builds garden center displays, repurposes and builds furniture and more. “I still have quite a bit of fi re in the belly,” he said. “It’s like the dog who chases the car every day and when he catches it he doesn’t know what to do with it.”. M


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n avid cyclist, Joan Lemoine has logged miles through the rolling pastoral beauty of Vermont and even through the subtropical peaks and valleys of Vietnam. But there is one trail that daunts even her, right here on the island. “I stay away from the leisure trails during tourist season,” she said with a laugh. True, the trails may get slightly congested during the peak season, but Lemoine can share at least part of the credit for their immense popularity. As president of Kickin’ Asphalt, she was part of a group that worked with the town on creating our island’s network of trails and building our reputation as a bike-friendly community. “We’ve seen a tremendous growth in bicycle interest,” she said. “Our members are bike ambassadors.” But Lemoine doesn’t just set her sights on changing the world of recreational cycling. Through her work with the World Affairs Council of Hilton Head, she

has her sights set on changing the world as we know it. The WACHH is an affi liate of the World Affairs Council of America, “the largest non-profi t grassroots organization in the United States, dedicated to educating and engaging Americans on global issues” according to its website. Lemoine was recently named executive director of the WACHHI, due in no small part to the many campaigns she spearheaded while serving as administrative director. Along with keeping track of the growing membership of the council, currently around 800 members strong, Lemoine was also instrumental in setting up the guest speaker program with notables such as John Huntsman and Stephen Kinzer, who will appear on the island in January to discuss his book Reset. She also oversees the academic world quest, a reach out to the younger generation that has proven immensely popular. “It’s like a college bowl quiz for students on international affairs,”

she explained. “This was the second year we sent our winning team to Washington to compete nationally.” “I was always interested in the geopolitical aspects of international affairs,” she said. “In my previous career I had overseen study abroad programs, so I was familiar with those issue.” That previous career includes distinguished turns as director of student services for Indiana University East (Lemoine is a graduate of IU and, thus, a rabid basketball fan), dean of students at Western Connecticut State University, dean of academic and student affairs at Rutgers University, and most recently vice chancellor for student affairs at USCB. “I always considered myself an educator outside the classroom,” she said. In or out of the classroom, anyone looking to change the world or just change their town could learn a lesson from Joan Lemoine. M January 2014 65

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h i s



lizabeth Cale has meticulously organized an archive of current events spanning more than fi fty years. Cale, a Hilton Head Island waitress, can pull a binder from her bookshelf and show a diary she kept of the 1962 New York Yankees, then turn to her left and from another bookshelf show a book of newspaper clippings chronicling the entire Vietnam War. Bookshelves of historical novels and hundreds of subjects of interest line the walls of her Hilton Head Island home. “My collection began on the night of the JFK inauguration and I’ve never stopped,” she said. As a child Elizabeth was enamored with the Kennedys and collected every piece of information that she could get her hands on. She opened a meticulously organized binder to show a New York Herald Tribune newspaper clipping of JFK’s inauguration and a photograph of Jackie Kennedy on the cover of Life Magazine. A prized possession is a Sotheby’s auction catalog from

the sale of Kennedy memorabilia. She has cassettes and DVDs of interviews with the former president and fi rst lady. A bookshelf in her home is fi lled with “only the best books” that she has found on the family. Cale’s fascination with JFK led to an interest in presidential history and she has accumulated newspaper clippings and books about every president ever since. On her shelves are thousands of books, newspaper and magazine clippings and memorabilia that are meticulously organized into an archive of her life. “The entire house is my collection of history,” Cale said. She showed a section of books on Teddy Roosevelt and a postcard signed from President George Bush. “I am very interested in the 911 attacks and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.” Other subjects include Revolutionary War stories, Civil War memorabilia and a wall of shelves on South Carolina history. She’s organized a binder chronicling how money has

changed throughout her lifetime, including a collection of gas ration stamps used during World War II, Russian currency from 1947 and a piece of a British shilling from 1691. “My collection started with me collecting storylines of current events,” Cale said. “Now I keep track of anything local, people that I know and stories that I think might become big news. I’m really interested in the A-section of the papers; war, fi nance and things like that.” “I can’t start my day without my newspapers,” Ms. Cale said, explaining that her daily routine begins at 2 a.m. and includes daily procurement of the Wall Street Journal, New York Times and Island Packet. She estimates that she spends roughly $17,000 per year on newspapers. “It’s my passion,” she said. Closest to her reading chair is a collection of books written by her mother, the author Doris Gumbach, who is 95 years old and was a founding member of The Lead Pencil Society and former professor at Iowa Writers Workshop. Cale’s collection includes her mother’s handwritten letters from John McCain and the poet Alan Ginsberg. A frame on the wall is a showcase for old baseball pins, including hall of fame players Lou Gehrig and Dizzy Dean. A visit to Pennsylvania Amish Country launched an interest into Amish history. She has chronicled every newspaper clipping she could fi nd on NFL concussions and head trauma since 2007. “I’m currently following about 200 storylines,” she said. Medal of Honor recipients, terrorism, religion, black history, aviation and submarines each have a special section on her famous bookshelves. M


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e s i g n e r



orn in Czechoslovakia’s Bratislava, a port city on the Danube River, Ladislav (Ladd) Toth said, “Change was the name of the game from childhood: Munich Pact, World War II, the German military occupation followed by the Soviet occupation and ensuing takeover. The Czech and Slovak people had to constantly adjust to changing conditions.” Ladd worked in the textile trade, developing new designs, technology and

products. Part of his job included importing industrial machinery from Austria and West Germany — the other side of the Iron Curtain, the ideological and military barrier erected by the former Soviet Union. “I knew what life was like outside the Iron Curtain,” Toth said. “I had a taste of freedom.” During the Prague Spring of 1968, the movement to democratize Socialism in Czechoslovakia, totalitarian ideologies started to thaw.

“The Soviets didn’t like it,” Toth said. And when the tanks rolled into the country, exile became appealing. “The Warsaw Pact armies of Russia, East Germany, Bulgaria, Poland, and Hungary invaded our country. It was the signal for us to escape to the other side of the fence, 30 miles up the Danube River to Wien.” And so the Toths planned a ski trip to Austria, a “vacation” that became their ticket to freedom. On January 6, 1969 Ladd, Anna, and their fi ve-year-old son, Rastislav, boarded a train for Wein-Astria. It was a daring stunt with Russian soldiers standing nearby. In the end, over 100,000 Czechoslovakians left the country and became political refugees abroad. After a few months, the Toths immigrated to the City of London, Ontario, south of Toronto. “We started our new lives without friends, relatives or money — only a few words of English and a big appetite to succeed and create better opportunities for our son.” Soon, Ladd and a partner opened their own printing business. “I’ve always created and designed things; I wanted to open my own business.” Twelve years later, his partner bought him out and with the earnings he moved to Walterboro and built a 25,000-square-foot facility in the Industrial Park with his son Rastislav. As a result, Governor Carroll A. Campbell Jr., named Toth the 1991 South Carolina Ambassador for Economic Development. “We specialized in printing transfer branding labels for rubber products such as hoses, belts and tires. Our main customers were Dayco, Gates, Goodyear, Goodrich and others.” In 1999 Ladd sold Trimark Labels to the multinational, multi-billion-dollar NYSE company, ITW. His company is still running well, creating new opportunities for locals and employing some of the original employees. “I left my baggage on the other side of the ocean and came to the New World with nothing but a small suitcase and desire to create something of my own. You cannot buy this feeling: it fuels your initiative, hard work, and sacrifi ce.” The same spirit of reinvention built America and continues to inspire Ladd in his most recent challenge: retirement. “After retiring, I suddenly felt a vacuum. So I started handcrafting fi ne leather goods — holsters, travel bags and purses. Each time I make a bag, I get a bag full of enjoyment.” Orders for custom made items are welcome. M January 2014 67

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b a s s i s




ajor Short was surprised when he received a phone call from the National Four-String Banjo Hall of Fame. He was notifi ed in the spring that he would be inducted into the Hall of Fame, despite him never owning — or playing — a banjo. “It’s weird,” Short said. “They called up out of the blue and said you’re going to be in the Banjo Hall of Fame. I’ve never heard of it. Most people haven’t.” Short is the last living member of the band Somethin’ Smith and the Redheads. The band is credited with bringing the banjo back into popular culture. In 1950, Smith and the Redheads traveled the country with a musical comedy nighclub act. Somethin’ Smith sang main vocals and played the banjo, Saul Striks played piano and Short played the double bass. Short

also wrote most of the parodies the band performed. The act led to a recording of the band’s most popular song, “It’s a Sin to Tell a Lie,” which reached the top ten on the Billboard Top 100 in 1955. It stayed in the top 25 for six months. “I heard it all the time on the radio,” Short said. “They were playing that record here when I moved to Hilton Head in 1994.” They recorded four albums under the Epic record label. The band led a very successful career performing on shows including the Ed Sullivan Show and the Arthur Godfrey Show and at nightclubs including the Copacabana in New York and Roosevelt Hotel in New Orleans. “When we were in the business, we traveled,” Short said. “We were on the road most of the time. It gets old and that’s why we quit

the business.” After traveling with the band, Short landed in Florida, then moved to South Dakota to be a radio station owner until he left the business in 1979. He also lived in California before moving to Hilton Head. The National Four-String Banjo Hall of Fame is in Oklahoma City. The board of directors makes up to four nominations each year in fi ve categories. Somethin’ Smith and the Redheads were inducted in May for their promotion of the banjo. Short and his wife, who died in November, made the trip to Oklahoma for the ceremony in May. “It’s a beautiful museum,” Short said. “They have dozens of very fi ne banjos, some of the them extremely elaborate, and of course banjo is real American music because it was invented in the United States.” M


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Intriguingpoeple 2014  

Hilton Head Monthly is the Lowcountry's premier magazine. Covering all the news from Hilton Head to Beaufort, plus restaurant guides, weddin...