We Found the Garden of Eden: Where there’s something beautiful to do 7 days a week.
Tom and Nancy Lynch had lived just about everywhere before they came to Callawassie Island so they had plenty of experiences and preferences to draw upon when considering where they’d like to land and retire – if it can even be called that with how full and fulfilling they found their new life on their dream island.
Tom had lived in Orlando and grew up in Seattle. Nancy was from Minnesota. They’d both had a taste of heavy-handed humid summers knowing it was something they didn’t mind, but they liked the southern route for its milder winters. They’d also done the entire tour of California, having lived and served with impact in their careers everywhere from SoCal to NorCal and the Central Coast’s Marin County. Still, with the dramatic appeal of the Golden state, they were missing the beauty and variety of the changing seasons in spring and fall.
Beyond the appeal of environment, there were other things on their wish list that the area easily checked. “We wanted the old, deep south feel – the moss hanging off the trees and the stately oaks” Tom says like he’s reading from a tour book, and Nancy chimes in with agreement. The Lynches speak with one voice on almost any subject, but this one above all, as they paint a picture of the gentle, genteel South:
“We were ready for a kinder, gentler…,” Tom begins as Nancy concludes, “…more gracious place.”
They had decided back in 2016 they wanted to retire here, but it was when they rented on Hilton Head Island for 6 months in the summer of 2021 that all the alligators aligned. They already knew it was a vacation destination that checked every box. What they couldn’t have guessed is what Callawassie Island itself would add to the equation.
The Lynches had a leg up in their home search considering they own a brokerage in the Lowcountry and that Tom was a career broker himself. “They give you this thing called a Magic Card to get into the clubs to show clients, so we’d always been able to see all the options of what’s out there.” He shared with a chuckle. They thought they’d seen it all, but they were about to meet a place that they’d decide in mere minutes to make their home.
Tom describes their Coming to Callawassie, “we drove across the causeway and Nancy says. ‘I don’t even care what house we buy.’ Not only was it aesthetically breathtaking, but people here are so wonderful – this is a precious area. Nicest people, nicest neighbors, members of the club – this is precisely what we were looking for…”
Nancy picks up for Tom here and emphasizes, “…even more than what we thought. We didn’t necessarily want 55+ community, a place with clubs and activities, an environment where you can build a social group as opposed to some places where those opportunities aren’t as readily available as they are here. Right from the start, this was 100 times better that we even hoped for.”
They bought a single-owner home, where the previous resident had only moved away to be closer to family. As the story goes, it took them 15 minutes before they said, “write it up.” They’re getting ready to, in their words, “tear it up a little” and do some remodeling. In the true spirit of Callawassie where everywhere you turn you hear a testimony, the builder they contacted said he’d been working as a builder in the area for 25 years, and his dad before him since the 70s, and they’d seen every place there is, and if they didn’t need more land for their business, there’s no place they believe is better to live than on Callawassie Island.
Not just the look and feel, but it’s “the Cheers mentality,” Tom says, “I like to go where people know my name and I know theirs. The bartender Jared – he knows when I walk in the door, he can fire up a drink that I told him he makes better than anyone else, and he’s only been a mixologist for a couple years. Another one – a server named Leah – makes the best Bloody Mary I’ve ever had. The staff really take care of us in the restaurant, the pro shop, running the golf course, the whole community – they’re all incredible.”
That’s a cultural tone that bleeds into the feeling of heart and home among neighbors as the Lynches were immediately invited by their neighbor to “come over for a glass of wine” and ended up staying four hours. Not just the human neighbors, but during the conversation the live fauna featured heavily with Tom pointing out, “The wildlife – we’ve been watching the cardinals for the past half an hour take baths in our little birdbath; our black sunflower seeds, the bluebirds go through a cup of mealworms a day, we have woodpeckers in our trees behind our house. Today I played golf with a friend, and I commented, ‘You know Mark, it’s amazing the amount of wildlife we get to see while we’re playing golf.’ It’s a delightful place.”
In their experience, that feeling extends to the community off the island. “We’re blessed,” they said in unison tripping over one another to tell local interest stories about the “sense of respect people have for one another,” witnessing good parenting in a local restaurant teaching their kids “we don’t say those words,” teens witnessed buying each other lunch, or the time they were at the Savannah airport pumping up a low car tire with a bike pump because it was all they had when a stranger stopped and gifted them a generator-run tire inflator.
There’s hardly a moment’s breath in between as they count their blessings together:
Nancy: “People really raise their children down here.”
Tom: “That was a nice thing to experience when we got here. And the weather has been perfect for our tastes – watching the leaves turn.”
Nancy: “It’s been the best transition we’ve ever had.”
Tom: “This has been like we found the Garden of Eden.”
“When we used to sit in our living room and talk about what we hoped it was going to be like,” Tom celebrates, “we never imagined it would be better than we even thought it could be – something we’d looked forward to for a number of years and we found the aesthetic and natural beauty that we love and the kindness of people we love.”
The Garden of Eden wasn’t the only moniker Tom pulled out of his hip pocket. “I also call it Alcatraz,” he quips, “because you could live your whole life on the island and never leave.”
The witty sentiment tracks, but Garden of Eden is much more on brand.