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Second act

World record-setting skydiver Glenn Crews freefalls into golf, boating and giving back.

Story By Shane Sharp  +  Photography by Lisa Staff

The boating and golfing opportunities of the Lowcountry prompted accomplished skydiver Glenn Crews to retire on Hilton Head Island.

Glenn Crews spent more than 45 years jumping out of what he calls “perfectly good airplanes.” Upon exiting an aircraft flying 100 miles per hour at around 14,000 feet, he’d freefall 120 miles per hour for over a minute before deploying his parachute and soaring thousands of feet above the Earth.

These days, however, you’re more likely to find him boating, biking, kayaking or on the golf course at Sea Pines Country Club traveling four to five holes per hour while enjoying a round of golf with his fiancé, Terri. That’s right, Crews has traded the thrill of terminal velocity for the pursuit of a few slower-paced sports, and he couldn’t be happier.

“You can have a bad day golfing and live to talk about it, but you can’t have a bad day skydiving; there’s no margin for error,” Crews says. “For world record jumps you have to show up 150 percent ready to go and perform at that level.”

During his skydiving days, Crews was no stranger to “record jumps.” The Norfolk, Virginia, native holds 10 world records and eight national records. He’s completed a staggering 4,000 skydives, making his first jump back in 1969. His “odyssey,” as he refers to it, also includes climbing 10 peaks over 14,000 feet, advanced scuba diving, competitive snow ski racing, medaling in downhill and giant slalom, and ocean sail racing with over 12,000 miles.

Considering his extreme sports resume, it appears Crews didn’t just pump the brakes for his and Terri’s retirement on Hilton Head Island; he slammed them. In reality, however, his and Terri’s transition is part of a master plan that’s been in place for years. 

“Terri and I wanted something we could enjoy together, and she grew up playing golf with her dad since she was eight years old,” Crews says. “I also knew that when I retired from skydiving at 70, an injury would be serious enough to really set me back. Golf is the perfect sport for me right now, and the parallel between it and skydiving is that you have to stay constantly focused to play at a high level.”

But it’s not all fairway and greens for the 75-years-young Crews these days. He has channeled his love of the water through America’s Boating Club of Hilton Head. Glenn leads powerboat tours of historic locations and points of interest along the Lowcountry waters for new members.

Crews leads powerboat tours of historic locations and points of interest for new members of America’s Boating Club of Hilton Head. Learn more at americasboatingclub.org.

“I didn’t want to give up being on the water, especially living on Hilton Head Island with this incredible maritime setting,” says Crews. “America’s Boating Club is a great organization, and it’s a way for me to give back to the local area and contribute to the safety, education and appreciation for boating.”

Crews is also teaming-up with fellow Sea Pines Country Club member and chef Kim Baretta to provide boat tours for Memory Matters, a local nonprofit organization that offers services and programs for people suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s. 

“Life is all about making transitions, especially entering retirement,” says Crews. “How do you reinvent yourself to stay active and help those around you? The club [Sea Pines] and living on Hilton Head Island are conduits for me to get involved in so many activities and charitable causes.” 

If past performance is the best indicator of future success, Crews is living another adventure, and positively impacting lives along the way.