The story of town founder Ben Racusin, Hilton Head Island’s First Mayor
“I met her in Shanghai on a Wednesday,” said Ben Racusin of his unforgettable first encounter with the love of his life, Helen. “I don’t recall that either of us were too impressed.”
But then he felt a little different after another rendezvous. They married three months later, and they’ve been together for 61 years. It’s a love story that has made its way to Hilton Head Island. Following a world-wide career with the CIA, Racusin and his wife decided to spend their well-earned retirement years on Hilton Head Island.
Racusin holds the distinction of being Hilton Head Island’s first mayor – and while Charles Fraser may have had the original vision for what Hilton Head Island could be from a tourism standpoint, Racusin led the way to make it “home” for the residents. Friends first told the couple about “the most wonderful place” they had found, and convinced them to visit the island. They saw the charm and glimmer of Hilton Head back when a spring bridge was the only connection to the mainland. That was 41 years ago, and Racusin said he is just as impressed with Hilton Head Island today as he was when its thriving population consisted of about 3,000 people.