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La vida local

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

LOCAL Life asked Hilton Head Island resident Bill Schmitt to share his thoughts on what it means to be local. Schmitt has a long history of volunteerism on the island and has played a key role in the Hilton Head Island Concours d’Elegance & Motoring Festival since 2005. LOCAL Life welcomes letters to the editor and comments to our website. Write to [email protected].


Bill Schmitt is a familiar face at the Hilton Head Island Concours d’Elegance & Motoring Festival. He has been a long-time volunteer and has done everything from run the Car Club Showcase event (the Saturday show) to co-managing the Concours to coming up with the Women Driving America program that was started last year. “Our event would not be what it is now without Bill,” Concours President Lindsey Harrell said. While the 2020 event has been canceled, many virtual events are planned. Learn more at hhiconcours.com.

Hilton Head is the only place I have lived on purpose. I was either born or sent everywhere else. A career in the chemical industry afforded me the opportunity to visit 48 states and over 50 countries but caused me to move 12 times. Our journey to Hilton Head started a long time ago.

Shortly after we were married, my wife said we needed to go to Hilton Head, a place she had visited and eventually wanted to live. That was in 1977, and we became the owners of a lot in HHP. After living in Brussels for almost four years, we decided to build a house on that lot. It was 1983. However, an 18-percent mortgage made us put it up for rent, though the dream was still there. Our son was baptized here even though we were living in Texas. We vacationed here every year. Fast forward to 1999, when we made the move here so our son could attend Hilton Head Christian Academy for high school. Shortly thereafter I was called to Dallas for my job, so I started a two-city life. Finally, in 2004 I was able to take an early retirement, and we were now all in Hilton Head.

When you live 12 places in 30 years, you are always “visiting” in a way. How was life on Hilton Head going to be different? I saw an ad in the Packet that led to helping form the Corvette Club of HH. That led to a chance to help create the Car Club Jamboree (now Showcase) for the Concours d’Elegance. A while later I answered the call for people to create a cell-phone task force. That led me to people in the newly formed Arts & Cultural Council who needed help in fixing its website. There I met people I would never have met any other way, and soon I was helping Mitchelville plan Juneteenth Celebrations. And now I am on the Arts Advisory Committee for Culture HHI. A long way from the left-brained, technical world of chemicals.

COVID-19 has given us all a pause and way too much time to reflect. That “vision” my wife had all those years ago had paid off. Hilton Head had been our North Starr, as we would always say, “Someday we will live on Hilton Head.” When we finally got here, it really hasn’t disappointed. We were finally from somewhere. And volunteerism was Hilton Head’s way of giving us the chance to become LOCAL. It’s the “secret sauce” to help nomads create some roots and become part of a community.

Where else could a guy come up with an idea to help a local dance group promote its production of The Nutcracker by asking its stars to present awards at a car show he helped create? When you say you are from Hilton Head, no other cities need mentioning. Remember, I do live here on purpose.