Greetings From South Carolina
I decided to take a break from the political issues and write a different kind of column this month. This past week I have been enjoying a much needed break from winter and work along the coast of South Carolina at Hilton Head. I have come here often and this region, the “low country” of coastal South Carolina is rich in history as well as a unique culture. I spent a day in Savannah Georgia, just across the border. Savannah is where the colony of Georgia was founded. The city has preserved its old historic district and it was the setting for the movie Forrest Gump back in the 1990s.
Nearby is the city of Beaufort, a charming southern city that has also preserved much of its ante bellum buildings. As the Civil War was drawing to a close, the people of Beaufort just surrendered to General Sherman’s army without a fight. As a result, the Union army bypassed Beaufort and spared the city. Beaufort has also been the setting of many movies including parts of Forrest Gump. In fact, the house of Forrest Gump is in Beaufort and it was also used as the house in the movie The Big Chill back in the 1980s.
Beaufort was also the home of author Pat Conroy whose novels echo the charm and culture of the South Carolina “low country” (so named because of its low elevation at sea level). His books are largely autobiographical. His first novel was titled The Water is Wide which is based on his first job as the first white teacher in an all black school on Dafuskie Island, an undeveloped island near Hilton Head. That book was made into a movie titled Conrack starring John Voight back in the 1970s. Perhaps the best known book by Pat Conroy was The Prince of Tides which was made into a movie starring Barbara Striesand and Nick Nolte. Other books by Pat Conroy were The Lords of Discipline, The Great Santini and Beach Music. Pat Conroy was a graduate of The Citadel, the military college of South Carolina in Charleston. His father was a career Marine Sargent. Pat Conroy lived in Beaufort until his death in 2016 at the age of 70.
Dafuskie Island is a largely undeveloped island off Hilton Head and is the home of the “Gullah” culture, a mix of west African and English cultures. Dafuskie Island was once the home of cotton plantations, but the owners didn’t live there. As a result, the slaves as well as escaped slaves and free blacks settled on Dafuskie Island. The island still does not have any bridge to the mainland and the roads there are still dirt roads.
It was 36 years ago this month that I was transferred from northern Ohio to Spartanburg South Carolina, so I actually lived in South Carolina briefly and got to know the people there. I found the people there to be very friendly and proud of their heritage. South Carolina is known as the state that led the secession that brought on the civil war and that event in our country’s history is a large part of South Carolina. But the state has progressed very much recently. There is much more industry, especially in the Greenville – Spartanburg area in the northwestern part of the state.
I was fortunate to have been born into a family that enjoyed travelling. My grandparents often took long vacations including a road trip to Yellowstone National Park back in a 1955 Chevy back when there were no air conditioned cars or interstate highways. I remember family vacations in our car to Niagara Falls and Washington DC as well as a road trip in a huge Chevy station wagon to the Rocky Mountains back in 1965.
In 2017, I was fortunate to do a lot of travelling throughout the United States. In January I was on the gulfstream waters of Florida and in September I was in the redwood forests of California. In May I was in New York city at the Brooklyn Bridge. In July I was in northern Michigan at the Mackinac bridge and in September I was in San Francisco at the Golden Gate bridge. I have also visited the volcanoes of Hawaii, the coast of Maine, the Rocky Mountains of Colorado and the Pacific northwest.
Travelling throughout the United States gives one an appreciation of just how great this country is as well as its marvelous natural features. I have been on the top of a 14,000 feet peak in the Rockies, seen the Grand Canyon, the Yosemite Valley, the Hoh Valley rain forest of Washington state as well as the rocky coast of Maine. I have seen historic sites such as the Alamo in San Antonio, the battlefield of Gettysburg, the homes of many Presidents and the numerous sites in our nation’s capital.
I have also travelled outside of the United States as well. Travel broadens one’s horizons and makes one more cognizant of other cultures and regions. There is a big world outside Parma Ohio. All one needs to do is get out and see it.
Lee has been working with Medicare, Medicaid and private health insurance since he began working at the Erie County Welfare Department in January 1973 where a major part of his job was determining eligibility for Medicaid. He went into the private insurance business in 1977 with Prudential Insurance Company and within a short time had become one of the company’s top sales agents. In 1982, he was promoted into management where he managed two field offices and as many as thirteen sales agents. After leaving Prudential in 1986, Lee decided to become more focused on health insurance and employee benefits. He has advised many local employers on how to have a more cost effective employee benefit program as well as conducted employee benefit meetings and enrollments for many area employers. The companies Lee has worked with ranged from small “mom and pop” businesses to local operations of large national companies. Lee received his B.S. degree from Kent State University where he has been active in the local alumni association. He has completed seven of the ten courses toward the Certified Employee Benefit Specialist designation. He has taught courses in employee benefits and insurance at Cleveland State University and local community colleges. In addition, Lee is an experienced and accomplished public speaker. He has been a member of Toastmasters International where he achieved the designation of “Able Toastmaster – Silver” in 1994. He has also served as a club president, Area Governor and District Public Relations Officer in Toastmasters as well as winning local speech contests. Lee has also been a member of the Greater Cleveland Growth Association’s Speaker’s Bureau where he was designated as one of the “official spokespeople for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame” prior to the hall’s opening in 1995. He has given talks and presentations before many audiences including civic organizations, AARP chapters and many other community groups. With the implementation of the Medicare Modernization Act (Medicare drug bill) in 2006, Lee has shifted his focus to Medicare and helping Medicare beneficiaries navigate the often confusing array of choices and plans available. As an independent representative, Lee is not bound to any one specific company or plan, but he can offer a plan that suits an individual person’s needs and budget. In addition, Lee is well versed in the requirements and availability of various programs for assistance with Medicare part D as well as Medicaid. While he cannot make one eligible, he can assist in the process and steer one to where they may be able to receive assistance.