By William Laney
Retired educator Herman Gaither just celebrated 50 years in Beaufort with his beloved wife, Romona. (Please see Social Scene for pictures on page 12). What’s their secret for such a long union? “Compromise,” said Romona with a smile. Said Herman, “Romona is supportive, understanding and patient. She tolerates my adventures and we enjoy many things together.”
According to Romona, it wasn’t “love at first sight” for the two of them when they first met on the beach at Hilton Head many years ago. Herman agreed, “We dated for a couple of years before we got married. We grew on each other. She was as settled as I was wild; she gave me structure and the rest is history.”
Added Romona, “After getting to know Herman, no one else had a chance. It must be his good looks and charm.”
Besides being an excellent wife, Herman said that Romona has been a wonderful mother and grandmother.
Their advice for young couples starting out? “It takes work and a desire to get something done for the children, home and community,” said Romona.
They have a son Kenneth, who currently is director of education for two upstate school districts. He has a lovely wife Lesa, who also works in education. And the Gaithers have two grandchildren — Amber, a Beaufort High graduate who is now a junior at Elon University majoring in Physical Therapy, and Allen, who is in middle school.
Kenneth and Lesa gave them their 50th anniversary party at Breakwater Restaurant last week. Kenneth said, “I am just absolutely honored to say that I was able to celebrate a moment as memorable as this with my two heroes. It is not often that you can say that you had a chance to meet or really get to know your heroes, but I have. I think they have been together because they share a love for each other and for life. They care for each other and respect each other. I’m proud to be a part of their love and life.”
Education has always played a major role in this family. After getting a degree at Claflin University and a Masters at Reed College in Portland, Oregon, Herman did additional studies at the University of Minnesota and the University of South Carolina. He became a teacher after college and migrated into administration because of an affinity for technology and innovation. He retired not long ago with a stellar record after 45 years in education in Beaufort County School District where he served as a teacher, coach, curriculum specialist, director of finance, deputy superintendent, and 10 years as superintendent. He was honored by being named “South Carolina Superintendent of the Year” (2004-5).
Says Herman, “I am proud of the improvements we made in academic achievement, the introduction of innovative instructional delivery systems, technology, schools of choice, and facilities. I was fortunate to work with some outstanding individuals who were upwardly mobile and dedicated to our students. I miss the teachers, administrators and students — but not the politics,” he added with a smile.
Herman, an avid golfer, turned his hobby into an unexpected job after retirement when he invested in The Golf Course (TGC) at Pleasant Point on Lady’s Island with his friend Joe Walters. Together, with a lot of hard work, they turned a beloved local course — known for it’s beautiful vistas that had been shuttered due to foreclosure by previous owners and left to ruin — back into a great new place for everyone to golf in Beaufort. “Never in my wildest dreams did I think that I would trade my suit and tie and life behind a desk for boots and jeans, laying sod and tending grass,” said Herman. “But being outside and the physical side is different and challenging. I have learned more about grass and sand than I would have ever imagined. Watching a course that was dormant for eight years come back to life is very rewarding.”
And the golfers coming back agree, calling TGC one of their “very favorite” courses to play in the Lowcountry.
Says Herman about his approach to life: “There is always a better way to get things done. Innovate, find good people and let them grow. Never be reluctant to embrace an idea that has promise.”
Congratulations to Herman and Romona for 50 happy years together and thanks for their contributions to Beaufort.