By Judith Lawrenson
Photography by Bill Lawrenson
Having had one of those really happy kind of lives leads to a different type of bucket list. Anne McNear would like to “do it again” rather than have totally new experiences. How would you feel about that?
PINK: You seem to be a real island girl. How did you decide on Hilton Head?
ANNE: Well, I guess I am an Island Girl. That is part of an old bucket list type of a thing. I had always wanted to live on an island in a grass hut. We rented here for two years and finally found a lot on the marsh and built our home in 1997. My grass hut turned into a townhouse with the magnificent locked harbor. When we visited Windmill Harbour, we saw sailboat masts and knew this was our paradise. Every morning I wake up and cannot believe I truly live here and have this view of Pinckney Island and the Calibogue Sound.
PINK: What are some of your favorite things to do around here?
ANNE: Well, we bought a sailboat before we built our house. I love anchoring out in Mackey Creek or Bull Creek across from the Sea Pines lighthouse. I also deeply love sailboat racing. I raced for years, flying the spinnaker on a Lightning sailboat. Here, racing our 35-foot Irwin sailboat in the South Carolina Yacht Club spring and fall series is a totally different and fun challenge. I also could spend forever just walking on the beach searching for shells, digging clams and oysters and watching all the magnificent birds and wildlife on our Island.
PINK: You have moved around quite a lot. Tell us about your family and some of the other places you have lived.
ANNE: My husband and I were married in Chicago and then IBM moved us to the cornfields of Iowa. We spent 10 years in Connecticut and then moved to New Jersey. We have three daughters and a son. Our daughters live nearby and our son lives in New Jersey. Finally after 32 years with IBM, my husband retired. I would just like to add something about my family that makes me very proud. We organized and ran the MS walks on the Island for seven years.
PINK: You are such a people person. What were your careers?
ANNE: I have always wanted to fly in an airplane. After I became a registered nurse, I applied to TWA to become a stewardess. I applied with visions of flying all over the world. My first airplane ride was to my interview. They checked me over from the top of my head to my toes and I was accepted. After graduation, 10 from my class went to Newark N.J. I NEVER flew out of the United States. The farthest I ever got was Denver.
After six months, I decided to go back to nursing. My nursing career consisted of teaching student nurses, surgery, private duty and dermatology. I retired when my children were born and became a full time mom.
PINK: People say you are always the life of the party, Anne, but you say that this has not always the case. What changed the shy girl?
ANNE: When we moved to New Jersey, I went to volunteer with a community players company. Much to my surprise, I was given a lead part. I guess I never looked back. I eventually became president of the group and have a continuing love for acting. I was also in the Mrs. New Jersey pageant and did not win, but gained an enormous amount of confidence doing something as ridiculous as being a contestant in a beauty pageant. It was a crazy, fun experience, and believe it or not, I made many new friends.
After moving to Hilton Head, I was in an Arts Center production as a maid singing “Home on the Range.” It was a hoot because I really can’t sing and the maid was supposed to be a comic role with no singing talent. Perfect, right?
There are so many opportunities at the South Carolina Yacht Club and on the Island. Sailing, racing, planning functions, such as shag dancing, yoga, golf, and yes, I even planned a "Rubber Ducky” race. One of my daughters bought me a T-shirt that says, “No, I Cannot Volunteer” but of course, I never wear it!
PINK: Anne, this column is about people who have a bucket list. Yours is a little different.
ANNE: My list is full of what I call “again” things. I have had so many happy times that to relive some of that joy would be simply wonderful. I would love to play tennis again. I truly miss it. I will someday dig out my paints and start painting again. We spent 10 years going to Maine at a campground on Penobscot Bay. I would be so happy to return and camp out and eat lobster every day once again. I also still dream about flying. I would just love to fly in a sailplane. What a thrill to soar up in the sky and look down on the earth. How wonderful just to be alive and kicking.
Anne is surely not only alive, but also still kicking up her heels. She has been a volunteer for 12 years at the Concours d’Elegance. She has performed many duties, but a favorite is the racetrack. Anne related she once had the opportunity to ride in one of the racecars and it was an awesome, but frightening experience. The best thing about it? Well, wouldn’t you know that Anne would say it was meeting many different people with many different stories.