Nature's finest: Retired Marine passes along his love of the outdoors

January 10, 2011 

Warren Disbrow's first half century has been as busy as it has been successful. He'll turn 50 on Jan. 24, and so far has accomplished being a father of three, husband for three decades, a retired Marine who returned to his work as a civilian, an avid and active outdoorsman and naturalist, and, most recently, an inventor and entrepreneur.

Born in Chicago, Disbrow grew up outside Baltimore, but he "hated the big city" and sought refuge in nature every chance he got, excelling as a Boy Scout, which he said was fantastic preparation for being a Marine.

He didn't start hunting until he was 18, but he joined the Marines soon after that, so his work kept him too busy to allow much time for being a sportsman.

When he and his young family first came to Beaufort in the mid-1980s, "we absolutely loved it," he said. He was sent to Florida as a recruiter for three years but came back to Beaufort and stayed put.

MARINE LIFE

"It's one of those places people say you either love or you hate, and we love it," he said, in no small part because of the natural beauty and the opportunities it affords for hunting and fishing, which Disbrow described as his "passion."

When he retired after 23 years in the Marines, he "managed about three days" of a life of leisure before he drove himself and his wife crazy. So he became an investment advisor for a few years, a profession he found lucrative but unsatisfying.

That led him back to work at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort as a civilian, repairing F-18s, a job he said allows him to enjoy the camaraderie of his fellow Marines "without all the formalities."

Disbrow and his wife Lisa were high-school sweethearts, and he was just 19 when they married. He was so frequently deployed around the world that his pride in their 30-year marriage seems tempered with a little surprise.

"She handled everything all by herself when I was deployed all the time, and was father and mother to the kids, as well as taking care of the house and everything," Disbrow said.

He fondly points out a wall in his home that is covered with portraits of his children gathered through the years. The portraits were had been sent to him wherever he was deployed.

His oldest son, Jason, works at Verizon in Charleston and DJs for local clubs. His son Brandon is a Beaufort County deputy sheriff and has two young children. Daughter Aubrey is a paralegal.

A certified Master Naturalist, Disbrow has nothing but praise for the program, its instructors and others who were in the program with him, some of whom bought hunting and fishing licenses even though they never planned to hunt or fish.

That money goes to the management and care of all kinds of flora and fauna, Disbrow explained, including wild animals that can't be hunted, "to keep the whole habitat functioning ."

An advocate of hunting to regulate populations, Disbrow also acknowledges some hunters don't have the best interests of the natural world in mind when they're hunting. But good hunters, he said, act in aid of Mother Nature in a world where people increasingly encroach on animals' habitats.

As with anything, Disbrow said, "if you have too much of something, it overshadows something else."

If deer get overpopulated, there's insufficient grazing and they get diseases that can spread to livestock.

OUTDOOR LIFE

On Parris Island, he coordinates all of the volunteers for the management hunt in cooperation with the game warden on base. Before the hunt, the deer population was huge, and the animals were small and sickly. Dozens of them were hit by cars, and Disbrow recalled seeing a buck munching on bushes at the bank in the middle of the day.

Thanks to proper management, there are fewer deer-vehicle accidents, and the animals are healthier and more productive now, he said.

"We don't necessarily take down only the biggest and best," Disbrow added. "We take some good ones, but the purpose (of hunting) is to keep the herd going."

A couple of years ago, Disbrow had an idea. When hunting, a vehicle that is not camouflaged "sticks out like a sore thumb" to wildlife, but painting camouflage by hand is time-consuming to do well, and a professional paint job can be costly. Disbrow recalled thinking, "There's got to be an easier way of doing this and making it look nice."

Rather than let his idea remain just that, he researched and found the materials, worked with a manufacturer to cut the pattern and applied for a patent. Truckstencils.com was born.

The flexible magnetized sheets adhere to a vehicle's surface. Then the user spray paints in the pattern and repeats. A car can be completely painted in camouflage in a matter of a hours, Disbrow said.

"My dad can fix anything, invent things, and build things," according to Aubrey, but, both she and her father agree, he has little patience for or interest in computer and administrative work, so she's his partner in DizCo Ltd. Co.

Of her father's love for hunting, Aubrey said, "It's a little weird because I'm a vegetarian, and my dad is a hunter." Though she never hunted with him, her father taught her to target shoot, an activity they still enjoy together.

She knows her father passed on to her his lifelong love for the great outdoors:

"I do absolutely love nature, being outdoors and animals -- not killing them, though," she said.

Like her father always has, she's "constantly venturing into wildlife refuges, woods and marshes, just to be outdoors."

Her love of nature is only outpaced by her love of her father.

"He really is a remarkable person," Aubrey said. "And I'm not just saying that because he's my dad. Between working full time, running a new business, hunting and everything, he has never been too busy for me or any of my family. I'm very proud to have him as a father. I really lucked out."

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