A Cool(er) Dream Come True ~ Local and Lovin' It!
by Nina Greenplate
Photography by Christian Lee
Halie Cooler is one happy local, born and bred. Her roots run deep, and her affection for the Lowcountry is a love story in motion. Her earliest memories are of being surrounded by the gorgeous Okatie River and her close-knit family. “It’s freedom when I’m near the water,” she says. “Being out here makes me realize how small I really am.”
Born in Hilton Head, and a 2016 graduate of Hilton Head Christian Academy, Halie embraces her life by the sea. “I remember how excited I was to catch these little, two-foot sand sharks,” she says. “Just being on the boat with my dad was amazing.” Halie and her father Walt, a local business owner, have spent a great amount of time fishing together. As a teen, Halie helped with her dad’s commercial crabbing business, pulling up to 100 pots (or nine bushels) a day! Now that she has a job of her own, her dad continues to cast lines on the Okatie with his small fleet of fishing boats, and Halie lends a hand when time permits.
The deep waters of the Okatie River in Beaufort and Jasper Counties were, indeed, Halie’s childhood stomping ground. The homes of her parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins border these waters and are comforting fixtures in Halie’s life to this day. Most of the family resides on Old Cooler Lane —their namesake street! Her paternal grandmother, Dorothy, with whom she presently lives, is particularly special to Halie. “Everyone calls her Dot,” she smiles. “I consider her my best inspiration, right next to my mother.” Halie describes her grandmother with great pride, and mentions that, at 85 years of age, she still drives a car and works part time at Cypress Home Health! “She is a Godly woman, incredibly giving,” she says. “Dot would give you the shirt off of her back. No questions asked.” Every day, Halie’s grandmother demonstrates that we can never give enough love to those around us. “It doesn’t matter what a person is like. You must be open-minded,” she recalls her grandmother’s sage words. “Give and pray.” Advice Halie has clearly adopted. Dot’s late husband, JP, Halie’s grandfather, had a dream to build a five-foot wide dock from their properties down to the waters he loved so much. With his passing, Dot decided to honor him by completing his wish and built a 968-foot long pier. Today, a sign hanging at the pier’s end reads: JP’s Dream.
Living on the river is a blessing to Halie, and she lights up when she talks about what a privilege it is to also work on the water. Harbour Town Yacht Basin employs Halie as an expert dock hand, and she is truly enjoying it. Positioned in the heart of Sea Pines Resort, travelers consider this a top destination for yachting on the Atlantic Inter-coastal Waterway. Under the Harbourmaster, Halie and five others are responsible for accommodating guests’ needs and requests. Halie’s day may involve welcoming clients, renting a boat slip, or catching a line; anything the full-service marina can offer to make the owners feel at home and enjoy their experience. Each day is unique and exciting. “I love to learn where people are from and what they do,” she smiles. “On the water, it doesn’t feel like work for me. Not a lot of people get to do what I do with the yachts, and it’s great.”
Halie Cooler is a girl in love with her surroundings, no question about it. The Lowcountry can have that affect on people. But those who’ve been blessed to grow up here have a special love for it; one that we late-comers can only dream about.
County Music Fan: Loves Carrie Underwood
Hunter Girl: Shot an 8-point buck at 13 years old!
Say ‘Cheese’: Her Mom, Cathy, has worked in orthodontics for 20 + years
Sister Love: “Hannah is smart, funny, beautiful”; and a junior at May River High School
Inner Fish: Taught herself to swim
More Fish: Anyway you can cook it! It’s her favorite food.