Executive Director of SC Humanities
Grant Writing Workshop
Dr. Randy Akers, Executive Director of South Carolina Humanities, began his work in public humanities in Florida in 1984 and was Associate Director of the Florida Humanities Council prior to coming to South Carolina. He received his B.A. degree in sociology from Illinois College (Phi Beta Kappa), a Master of Divinity degree from Garrett Theological Seminary, and his Ph.D in religious studies from Northwestern University. He is a proud recipient of the annual Lucy Hampton Bostick Award presented by Richland Library. He is currently the longest serving Executive Director of any state humanities council in the country.
Katherine Curtis Hester and Tom Curtis
Berkeley Artists Guild
Berkeley Artists Guild Exhibit and Art Lessons
Katherine is a native of the Lowcountry and a graduate of the College of Charleston. She holds a Master’s in Education and worked as a studio art, art history, and science teacher before leaving the classroom in order to pursue her painting career full time. Katherine has been represented by galleries in Charleston and exhibited her work throughout the region. She has won numerous awards and participates in the annual Piccolo Spoleto Outdoor Art Exhibition each spring.
Katherine Curtis Hester spent her childhood on a wildlife refuge that was overseen by her father—biologist and artist Tom Curtis. The environment offered unique experiences with nature that are reflected in her art.
Illumination drives the subjects she paints—the colors of fleeting light on the Lowcountry landscape found during sunsets, early mornings and around storm fronts. Her figurative work aims to capture the play between illuminated shapes and their surroundings, such as ballerinas as they dance in and out of stage light. Regardless of the subject, she says that striving for absolute command of color takes the lead in every piece.
Her father, Tom Curtis, grew up in coastal North Carolina and moved to the Lowcountry as a fishery biologist in 1969. This occupation and a lifetime of outdoor vocations created a strong love of nature and helped hone his observational skills, which he uses to create a sense of serenity, wonder and appreciation of nature through his oil and pastel paintings. “I am especially interested in the mood and rich colors produced by the play of light across the landscape,” he says.
Curtis currently serves as president of the Berkeley County Artist Guild. His works are on exhibit at Over the Mantel Gallery in Columbia, South Carolina.
Master Naturalist Ed Deal
Owner of Blueways Adventures
Ed Deal is the owner and operator of Blueway Adventures. Ed is an American Canoe Association (ACA) Certified Coastal Kayak Instructor and Adaptive Paddling Instructor. Deal also holds a Wilderness First Aid Certification and Coastal Master Naturalist Certification and is very active in the Paddlesport community. He has served on the board, was an officer of the South Carolina Paddlesport Industry Association, is a member of the South Carolina-Nature Based Tourism Association, the American Canoe Association, the Lowcountry Paddlers Kayak, Canoe and Paddleboard Club, Lowcountry Kayak Anglers and Gypsy Paddlers.
He is an advocate for conservation and preservation of natural resources through multiple waterway cleanups each year and his service as a Keep Berkeley Beautiful Board of Director and Litter Committee member. Ed is a strong proponent of outdoor and environmental education offering opportunities to youth and adults in our community through Wildlife Action, Inc. as a board member and donating kayaking services for their outdoor festivals for many years.
Professor, Author, and Historian
Book Signing and Discussion of Local Churches Burned During the Revolution
William Lawton (Bill) Segars was born in Darlington County and has lived in the Kelleytown Community, just West of Hartsville, his entire life. He grew up on a family farm that was once part of Jacob Kelley’s Plantation. Land that has been in his family since 1821 and was once occupied by Union troops under the command of Major General John E. Smith in March of 1865. This background instilled a love and appreciation of history for him at an early age.
Even with a passion for history, Bill chose a career in building construction after receiving a degree in Civil Engineering from Florence Darlington Technical College. In 1975 he began as a licensed residential contractor with his father, Graham Segars. Later, through experience and continuing education, he was able to obtain his unlimited General Contracting License.
During his 44 year building career, Bill has found a way to combine his interest in history and his knowledge of buildings into historical restoration. He has been very fortunate to have worked on and restored many buildings that are presently listed in the National Register of Historic Places. He views historical restoration as an interesting blend of sensitivity to historical elements of an old building with present-day conveniences that the building owners have grown to expect, thus saving buildings that may have otherwise been lost.
In 2003 Bill was introduced to old churches through a small book by Larry Nix entitled “The Old Churches of South Carolina.” This 46 page book contained a brief description of 185 pre-Civil War churches that exist in South Carolina. With this book, a camera and a map in hand, Bill set out on a quest to find, photograph and research these buildings. As he found these churches, he saw many more beautiful very well maintained church buildings that were built after the War Between the States that were also worthy of photographing and researching.
Now after many years of traveling over 41,000 miles on South Carolina’s wonderful back roads, he has photographed and researched more than 850 wonderful religious edifices that are special in one way or another. As a builder, Bill has chosen to research these buildings from a builder’s point of view; how were they built, who built them, who were the architects, what was the cost, etc. He focused more on the building itself and the exact location of it rather than on the congregation, its beliefs and preachers that served there.
In these visits and hours of research, Bill found that regardless of the location of these churches; country or downtown, large or small, the members loved their church buildings. It became very obvious to him through printed history and evidence of building techniques that they gave freely of their time, talents and money to build and maintain their church buildings. The members did this because they were proud of their church and the example that it set for their community.
This love and pride has been the driving force for Bill to preserve and share these beautiful places of worship through photographs and research. By showing these buildings through his eyes, he hopes to inspire all of us to help maintain our churches for future generations as others have done for us.
Bill asks that, as we drive by the multitude of churches that we have in the Bible belt of the South that we remember to honor and be thankful for the people who built and maintain them. These old church buildings exist today as a testament to the devoted congregations of the past and present that are willing to preserve their buildings and in turn preserving the heritage from which they came.
The Barbados and Carolinas Legacy Foundation
Barbados and the Carolinas Legacy
When Rhoda Green and her husband, Robert, moved from Harlem, N.Y., to Charleston, S.C., in the 1970s, the city seemed eerily familiar. They looked around and saw the same street names and architecture as the capital of their homeland, Barbados.
“I would tell Rhoda, ‘Hey look I was just in this place and all the names are the same thing. What is happening?” Robert Green says with a laugh while recalling their first few years. “We realized this place was a small Barbados, or a big Barbados I should say.”
Rhoda Green was so fascinated that she started digging deeper. As it turned out, Charleston is a “big Barbados.” In fact, there’s a unique connection between the Carolinas and Barbados that explains the similarities.
“The people that were here at the founding of this colony were from Barbados,” Rhoda says. “They were British, or British-born, they were the enslaved who worked on Barbados plantations and they were [Barbadian] indentured servants.”
Tracing The Barbadian Background- Rhoda now runs the Barbados and The Carolinas Legacy Foundation and is an honorary consul for the island. She volunteers as a guide for visitors on a personalized trail that explores Charleston’s Caribbean history.
SC Battleground Trust
Fort Fair Lawn Artifacts
Doug is a graduate of the College of Charleston and received a Master’s degree from the University of South Carolina. He formerly served on the staff and faculty of the University of South Carolina and the University of Maryland. Doug has more than thirty years’ experience in nonprofit management. He was the first executive director of Save the Light, the non-profit foundation managing the preservation of the Morris Island Lighthouse at Folly Beach.
Doug is the author of twenty-six books on nonfiction history and his knowledge of history is enhanced by a raconteur’s gift for storytelling. He is a much sought after speaker and speaks on a wide range of topics including the history of the South Carolina Sea Islands, colonial and antebellum horse racing, the War Between the States, the Revolutionary War in South Carolina, Root Work & Lowcountry Folklore, and the history of South Carolina Lowcountry cuisine. Doug was the editor for a large series of books commemorating the Sesquicentennial of the War Between the States. His book on the Morris Island Lighthouse was the “2009 Book of the Year” for the Foundation for Coast Guard History. Doug’s book’s Fort Sumter National Monument: Where the Civil War Began and Grand Traditions of Charleston Cuisine were both recognized as 1st Place for Book of the Year at the Souvenir Wholesale Distributors Association Convention in 2011 & 2012.
He joined the staff of the Trust in 2011 as executive director & CEO. Under his leadership, The Trust has doubled its number of protected in the last two years.
Pastor Tory Liferidge
Faith in the Public Square
Pastor Tory J. Liferidge
Tory J. Liferidge was born in Brooklyn, NY and raised in Moncks Corner, SC. He is a graduate of Duke University where he attained a Bachelors of Arts degree in Sociology and minors in Business and African American Studies. In 2002, he answered his call to ministry and then pursued and earned a Master of Divinity degree at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, DC. He graduated in 2007. During his studies there, he followed the academic track on Urban Ministry, an area where Tory feels called to serve in his vocation. Currently, he has returned to Wesley to pursue a Doctor of Ministry degree in the Public Engagement Track.
While in seminary, Tory served as a Youth Pastor at Heritage U.C.C for one year (2004) and Senior Pastor of Christian Community Church for three years (2004-2007); both in Baltimore, MD. Tory then relocated to New York City to serve as the Youth and Young Adult Pastor of First Corinthian Baptist Church (FCBC) in Harlem (2007-2012). This awesome move of God allowed him to join his pastor and long-time mentor, Pastor Michael A. Walrond, Jr., in the transformative work of ministering the Gospel and community impact.
During the five years of service at FCBC, Tory was instrumental in developing a youth and young adult ministry and helping the church grow to a membership of over 8,000. Under his leadership, the church and greater Harlem community were impacted by projects such as Southern College Tours, Breakfast Before Books (weekly breakfast program for all students), Youth Explosions (youth generated creative worship experiences), Film Works (youth written, acted and edited film projects), Spiritual Retreats, and Discipleship Trainings. This sample of special projects underscores Tory’s commitment to creatively engaging and empowering youth and young adults.
Tory has recently transitioned back to his hometown of Moncks Corner, SC where he is continuing his non-traditional and transformative work in ministry. He is now serving as the pastor of Grace Reformed Episcopal Church and seeking to empower the greater community spiritually, physically, economically and civically. In less than three years, the church has partnered with Habitat for Humanity of Berkeley County to build a community center, delivered a tractor trailer full of water to Flint, Michigan, organized community Thanksgiving meals, sponsored a Sickle Cell walk and foundation, established a Community Development Corporation (Grace Impact Development Center) where Tory serves as Executive Director and purchased five acres of land to develop affordable housing.
God has given Tory a passion for people and a heart for service. His vision for ministry is to be a part of a transformative movement that will embrace all people, the arts, the Gospel, and the example of Jesus to impact local communities and the world. Tory fundamentally believes that we can realize this God given vision by empowering one person at a time.
Tory is married to his beautiful friend and journey partner, Latashia Penick-Liferidge.
Rev. Timothy Scoonover
Faith in the Public Square
Rev. Timothy Scoonover
A native of Knoxville, Tennessee, Timothy graduated from the University of Tennessee with a Bachelor of Science in Human Services. He received his Master of Divinity from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, Massachusetts, where he was awarded as the Walters Preaching Scholar. Timothy has served as Middle School Youth Director at Second Presbyterian Church in Knoxville; Associate Pastor of Youth and Mission at First Presbyterian Church in Thomasville, Georgia; and moved to the Lowcountry in 2013 as the Senior Pastor and Head of Staff of First Presbyterian of Moncks Corner. Timothy is currently working on his Doctorate of Ministry at Fuller Theological Seminary in the Leading Change cohort.
Timothy married his high school sweetheart, Ashley, and they have two sons, Cooper and Micah. He is passionate about church renewal, making disciples, University of Tennessee sports, coffee, and time with family.
History Bus Tour
I taught in Berkeley County for 16 years before moving to the District Office as Curriculum Coordinator for Social Studies. I held that position until I retired in 2004. Since that time I have traveled all over South Carolina presenting Social Studies workshops and professional development seminars. In the past 10 years I have spent much of my time assisting the current Social Studies Coordinator with teaching the American History Grant classes and leading the field study trips. Additionally, I have developed numerous new classes that are social studies based and provide opportunity for teachers to obtain professional development and graduate credit in order to advance their careers or renew their certificates. One of my favorites has been “Avoiding A Wump World” which highlights the many ways in which the Lord Berkeley Conservation Trust and Berkeley County Soil and Water Conservation team have preserved and protected our county.
My retired Air Force officer husband and I have two children and three beautiful young granddaughters. My greatest pleasure comes from family time, church work, and talking history with others who love it as much as I do. I also enjoy enormously the opportunity to travel with friends, having led 39 trips to Europe and a growing number to historic locations in the United States – many of them right here in our historic area.
For my entire career I taught various histories at several levels, from High School to Undergraduate, and Graduate levels. I have always believed that history is the most interesting subject of all. I teach the history through the people who lived it and made it. The magic – the thing that brings students back the next time – is the Story. The Stories of the people and their lives are infinitely fascinating to me. I believe that everyone has a story that is worth sharing, but it takes time and a willingness to engage with others to find the story. Don’t miss an opportunity to find the amazing stories of all the people you come to know.
Michael J. Heitzler Ed.D.
Author and Historian
Berkeley County as Cradle of Southern Culture
Michael James Heitzler earned a Doctor of Education Degree from the University of South Carolina. He is a retired school administrator of the Berkeley School District, South Carolina. He served as Mayor of the City of Goose Creek from 1978 to 2018 and is the author of five books and sixteen articles explaining the dynamic impact of Berkeley County on the societal culture of our nation.
Tony Young has had a number of interesting occupations which have given him considerable experiences upon which to base his stories. His world travels also have offered colorful experiences. As a youth in rural South Carolina he witnessed many situations which no longer exist. His flair for the dramatic lends color and excitement to his stories. He tells stories – all kinds of stories. Many of his stories are based on humorous events of his childhood – these stories Young has created. Other stories are timeless fables from around the world. Young also produces videos of his stories as well as videos based on other subjects.
Young also offers coaching in storytelling as well as public speaking. He can teach you how to create a story from your personal experiences, from concept to presentation.
Berkeley County Soil and Water Conservation District, berkeleybees
Barbara “Beezie” Fleming, also known as Beezie the Bee Lady, has been a hobbyist beekeeper in the lowcountry for 25 years. berkeleybees, our hometown support and educational group for beekeepers, was founded through the Berkeley Soil and Water Conservation District under her leadership. berkeleybees and the Soil and Water Conservation District works closely with other agencies and groups to help farmers, landowners, and our community at large by providing education and assisting with the conservation and preservation of our natural resources. Her appropriate nickname, given at the age of 2 by a sibling, was ‘sweet’ foreshadowing of her passion for the fascinating, honey producing pollinators!
Beezie currently serves as the Director of District Operations for the Berkeley Soil and Water Conservation District. She sits on the Board of Directors for the Berkeley County Farm Bureau Federation and the Advisory Council for Berkeley County Clemson Extension as well as being a member of the SC Wild Hog Task Force.
Dr. Richard Porcher, Jr. and Keith Gourdin
Historians of the North Berkeley Historical Tour
Dr. Richard Porcher, Jr.
Dr. Porcher is a scholar, educator, and conservationist. His distinguished teaching career at The Citadel integrated field biology into the curriculum (1970 – 2003). Dr. Porcher is the author of definitive books on South Carolina botanical and cultural resources. He has dedicated the proceeds from his books to student scholarships. Dr. Porcher is a renowned conservationist that uses his knowledge to influence regional environmental policies. He was the recipient of 2007 SC Environmentalist of the Year Award, and has mentored many prominent southeastern naturalists.
Keith Gourdin was born in Berkeley County and has lived in Pineville for the past 80 years (except while off at school). He grew up farming with his father, Peter Palmer Gourdin, and worked as a Safety Professional in the manufacturing industry. He married Betty in 1960, and they have two children & two grandchildren.
A desire to know more about his Gourdin ancestry and the lands they lived on was instilled in him primarily by his aunt (Eljule Palmer Gourdin Everett, deceased) and a cousin (Virginia Gourdin, deceased).
After thirty-some-odd years in manufacturing, Keith had more time to research the people and plantations where they lived. He began by recording those plantations and lands only his ancestors lived and/or owned. Then it became evident that the “in-between” and adjoining home places needed names and families to go with them. So, the search continues.
Keith formed Berkeley North Historical & Cultural Association (abt. 2006) and began historical tours, cultural affairs, etc. primarily in the St. Stephen’s Parish area. Beginning in 2007, he fed his cousin (who owns the Columbia Star Newspaper) historical information about the Village of Pineville and St. Stephen’s Parish, to the tune of 75 weeks, all the while discovering history present in his village. Accumulating a great home library and compiling extensive historical notes and finds of his ancestry continues almost daily on his agenda of fun things to do.
An opportunity opened to join the Berkeley Soil & Water Conservation District several years ago, so Keith now serves as a Commissioner and really enjoys being a part of the recently formed Environmental History of Berkeley County; that of “Protecting the Past, Preserving the Present, and Promising the Future” of Berkeley County. . . through education. He believes strongly in those three short phrases, and promotes them through our state and county educational system.
“Learning from our county’s history, in which we are so rich, is a tremendous tool. Through it we learn ‘preservation,’ that of being able to ‘promise our future” says Gourdin.
Martin Luther King Choir
Martin Luther King Choir
The Martin Luther King (MLK) Choir was formed over thirty years ago through the efforts of the Berkeley County Progressive League. This organization has been celebrating the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King for over forty years; even before his birthday became a legal holiday. In an effort to bring gospel music, encouragement and a true worship experience to the Dr. King Community Ecumenical Service, the MLK Choir was formed. The MLK Choir is comprised of members of the Progressive League and the Moncks Corner community at large. This year’s MLK Choir is proud to have founding members still singing with the choir. The MLK Choir never aims to perform but to worship God and honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King.
Oral History and Digital Projects Librarian
Pictorial Slideshow "Then and Now" showing at the Opening Ceremony & The Rotary Club of Moncks Corner's Taste of Berkeley
Ramona L. Grimsley, the Oral History and Digital Projects Librarian, Berkeley County Library System, is a South Carolina native. She attended the first – twelfth grades in Moncks Corner schools, so considers it her hometown. A graduate of the College of Charleston, the University of South Carolina, and the University of Phoenix, her professional career with the county library began in 1999. In 2011, she and Donna Osborne, Library Director became concerned at the tremendous loss of county history as older members of the community passed. The ability to capture a small part of this history became a reality when the State Library funded their $20,000 grant application. Since 2014, her sole focus has been on Oral History and Digital Projects. It is the most challenging and rewarding job she could hope for.
The focus of this project is to collect materials pertaining to Berkeley County with the intent to preserve county history. Photos, documents, memorabilia, ephemera, and the like are scanned, then returned to the owner. Images are cataloged, much like books. Much historical information is added to the record. The records and images are sent to USC to be uploaded to the South Carolina Digital Library. There are approximately twenty projects in the works including; her collection of Berkeley County postcards & ephemera, the Daniel E. Smith Collection of 19th century documents and hand-drawn surveys, the Atkins’ Landing Collection, the original minutes from St. John’s Baptist in Pinopolis, the 1956 Moncks Corner Community Directory, the Kitty Mescher Collection, The History of the McCants Family, The Ernestine Wyndham Conrad Collection, a collection of quilts, Some Historic Spots in Berkeley by Henry Ravenel Dwight, et al. A Short Biography of David A. Gethers will be completed from visits between Mr. Gethers and herself, as well as an Interview with Calhoun Umphlett and George Seago, Sr. about the Low Country’s timber industry.
To view completed projects online, go to: Jimmy Cornelius Stone Collection, then click on BROWSE; The Berkeley Drive-In Theatre, then click on View Collection Homepage; Yeamans Hall; Class of 1939 BHS
Mary Louisa Palmer’s Elocution copy book (1880s) has been submitted and will be online shortly.
CCB Jazz Ensemble at the Grand Finale
Stan Zuber believes that music is an important and irreplaceable part of the culture of the world. He loves music of all styles and cannot be without it. Stan has worked at conducting and playing music for sixty plus years. He started playing saxophone at nine years old. Stan studied and played in his school bands for nine years, before going to college for music education as a saxophone major. After college, Stan taught music for thirty-two years, mostly for the Readington Township Schools in NJ. During his teaching career he played with numerous concert bands, jazz bands, and small combos. Since retiring from teaching, Stan continues to play in numerous professional and community concert and jazz bands as well as small combos.
South Carolina Battleground Preservation Trust & Southern Campaigns of the American Revolution
Grand Finale and Intro into "Near This Spot"
David Reuwer serves on the board of the South Carolina Battleground Preservation Trust. He is a founder, with Charles Baxley, of Southern Campaigns of the American Revolution. His car tag reads “Rev War,” and his business card features an image of a 1776 version of the American flag, the Declaration of Independence, and a quote by patriot Gen. Nathanael Greene that states, “We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again.”
When David is not working in his legal profession, he is often writing, reading, or speaking about the American Revolution. Or he is most likely knocking on someone’s door to negotiate the purchase or easement of an actual Revolutionary War battle site. Why? He does not want history to be lost, nor does he desire to see South Carolina only focus attention and education on the “more recent” Civil War.