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Jeffrey Watkins has made a name for himself locally, on Broadway, and on stage around the world as a master of the theatre. This month, he portrays “Sir Dennis Galahad, The Dashingly Handsome” in The Arts Center of Coastal Carolina’s production of Spamalot, and we’re proud to feature him in the first installment of our reinvigorated On the Bench interview as he opens up on being dashingly handsome, his habit of climbing large mountains, and his alarming command of avian aerodynamics.

WilmotRBC Heritage tournament director Steve Wilmot wasn’t born with a 9-iron in hand. In fact, when he first arrived on Hilton Head Island, the Moorestown, N.J., native considered himself more of a football, basketball and baseball guy.  Cut to 27 years later, and he is now a walking encyclopedia of golf, and close personal friends with some of the game’s biggest names. 

Sir William Innes may be the official mascot of the RBC Heritage, but Steve Wilmot is its driving force, and since taking over as tournament director in 1997, he has taken a little more than his share of the blame and a little less than his share of credit. 

He has guided the tournament through dark times (the bankruptcy of WorldCom in 2003 and Verizon’s exit in 2011). He has been there through good times (the purse has more than tripled since 1997 and $23 million has been donated to local charities since his arrival). 

With the 45th RBC Heritage just around the corner (April 15-21), Wilmot took a few moments to speak with Golfer’s Guide about the 2013 event and his favorite Heritage memories. 

 

Save your puns; Brian Pope, principal of St. Francis Catholic School, has heard them all.

As soon as he steps through the door of a classroom he’s met by an enthusiastic chorus of fourth graders: “Good morning, Mr. Pope!” He returns the greeting then asks one student, by name, what she’s working on. It’s a class project about the dangers of drugs.

Brian Pope, the new principal of St. Francis by the Sea parish school on Hilton Head, prides himself on knowing all of his students on a first-name basis. “The relationships between teachers and students here is very close,” he tells a visitor, “and creating that special bond is part of our effort to build character as well as guide a child’s spiritual and educational growth.”

 

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Photo by Russell Greene

The north island Catholic school, home to 180 students from 4-year-old pre-kindergartners to eighth-grade middle school teens, has been his only professional home since earning a secondary education credential from New York’s Niagara University in 2001.  And the 32-year-old Pope, who indeed has heard every religious pun possible about his surname, seems well-suited for a position that puts him in charge of guiding youngsters toward productive futures.

warner-peacockAs a boy, Warner Peacock spent weekends driving around with his car salesman grandfather “prospecting” for customers. As a teenager, Peacock helped at his father’s GMAC dealership. With ties that deep, he never really stood a chance at doing anything else for very long.

“I keep getting drawn back into it,” Peacock said. “It’s a hard business, but I think I’m pretty good at it.”

stan-smithTennis legend Stan Smith relaxes on a couch in his spacious, earth-toned home in Spanish Wells that opens onto Broad Creek, looking as if could still trade serves and volleys with the best of them.

Lean and long-limbed, with powerful hands and a slightly roguish mustache that helped make him instantly recognizable to a legion of fans in the 1970s and beyond, the one-time greatest player in the world speaks in polite and measured tones as he reflects on a life in tennis and his status as one of Hilton Head’s most highly regarded residents.

patty-maurerMaurer’s credentials are impressive. She holds a bachelor of fine arts degree in dance and a bachelor of arts degree in psychology from the University of Colorado, with an additional advanced fine arts teaching certification from the state of South Carolina.

In 2006, Maurer started the dance department at Hilton Head Island Elementary School for the Creative Arts. Two years later, she was named one of South Carolina Arts Commission’s top 40 Arts educators.

nan-staffordHilton Head isn’t just fun for humans. Loggerhead turtles find this homey little island quite comfortable as well. So comfortable, in fact, that they’ve been coming around these parts for years and years to lay their eggs and start new generations. And one resident enthusiast, Nan Stafford, grew up loving these sea creatures so much that she wanted to ensure they stuck around for years to come.

mark-bakerTake a look around you. If you are on Hilton Head reading this, just glance to your left and right. Mark Baker probably designed that.

See that development over there? Mark Baker probably did that too. Oh, you live in Hampton Lake? Mark Baker. Your daughter plays soccer at Florida State University’s intramural fields? Mark Baker. You get drinks on the weekend at any of the Marriots here on island? Mark Baker. He is one of the most sought-after land developers in the southeast. And South America. And the Caribbean. And, boy, is he good at it.

lowcountry-boilWhen local bluegrass band Lowcountry Boil was created, it was a warm-up session before rock band Daly Planet concerts. About 15 years later, Daly Planet no longer exists, but Lowcountry Boil has survived as one of the longest-running bands in the area.

john-jacobsMost people are lucky enough to achieve success in one career their whole lives. John Jacobs is currently on his fifth.

Starting out as a teacher, becoming an administrator, segueing into a twenty-six year career with National Starch and Chemical, utilizing those skills to found a distribution and packaging logistics company, and now settling into small-business ownership quite nicely with his wife, Ramona Fantini, his success in seemingly everything that he does is a direct reflection of his outlook on life.