Helping HandsA feature about people whose work touches our lives

  • Thursday, May 8, 2014



Founder of Trees For Tomorrow — A Lowcountry Legacy

Native of New York City

Arrived in this area in 1967 while serving in the Air Force

Began in seafood industry as harvester and dockmaster

Former assistant manager and manager of a consumer finance office

Held jobs in the broadcast TV industry and golf industry

Opened the Grand Strand’s first sports bar and grill in Ocean Drive — The Stadium, and an Italian Restaurant in Conway

Currently owner of Murrells Inlet Seafood

How did you get involved with Trees for Tomorrow?

The idea for Trees For Tomorrow came into my head after watching in disbelief as Georgetown County chose to do away with protection for landmark trees and a far out right group took political gain under the guise of protecting property rights. I thought that I could orchestrate a plan which refused to get political and did the right thing through leading by example. With the help of some very passionate people I managed to pull that off.

Certified Arborist Todd Stephenson, June Jordan, Holly Aufdemorte, Linda Ketron and a host of anonymous behind-the-scenes soldiers helped this vision come to life — and the public bought into our message, in a major way, from day one.

In our first year, we assisted area HOA’s, schools and churches in applying for tree grants through Palmetto Pride. We carried out the plan to retrieve these trees, care for them until planting time and offered tree planting and care seminars through Todd and his business, Total Tree Care.

This process was carried out again in our second year. We led the state in the amount of trees granted in both years.

Todd and I provided funds through our businesses to buy 2,000 seedlings from the State Forestry Commission in 2013. These were given to the public for free.

In 2014 we were joined by several individuals in providing funds to buy seedlings. We are now seeking corporate sponsorships in this regard.

During our first two years Trees For Tomorrow is responsible for the planting of over 5,000 trees in our local area. Our goal is 15,000 by 2015.

What do you enjoy most about the seafood industry?

I enjoy the gratitude and satisfaction expressed by our customers; that what we do with the business makes them very happy.

It is so gratifying to hear their comments – and to think back about the many millions of people who have eaten a meal that passed through our hands on the way to their dinner plates.

What does Murrells Inlet Seafood offer people?

We offer the public the freshest local seafood and fresh seafood flown in from all over the world. We also offer homemade gourmet items that are oven- and microwave-ready – salads, soups, dips, sauces – all homemade from scratch. We cater everything from backyard cookouts to cocktail parties and six course fine dining.

The opportunity to enjoy great fresh seafood meals here is so much better than just about anywhere in the country.

Can you tell me about your family?

My wife Judy is a hair stylist at Elite Retreat in Litchfield. Our daughter, Emma Marie is an eighth grade honor student at Waccamaw Middle School where she has already earned two varsity letters as a member of Waccamaw High’s award winning Competitive Cheer Team. We also have other children who are grown, grandchildren and a great-granddaughter.

— As told to

Clayton Stairs

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