Randall Bagley has lived in Beaufort since March 3, 1997, and remembers that day as one that changed his life.
He has lived close to poverty and did not graduate from high school. Nonetheless, he graduated from college and built his own business, starting as a handy man.
The jack-of-all-trades has worked in television, sold cars and taught kindergartners. He found his calling in construction.
While running his handyman business in Charleston in the mid 1990s, a good friend of his convinced him to try Beaufort life.
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"I was working at a country radio station and I was going hungry," he said. "A buddy lived on Dataw Island and was after me to move down here. The black cloud over me in Charleston disappeared when I moved here, and it's been wonderful ever since."
Bagley works construction on military bases, so it is quite fitting that he lives in town, working between Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort and Laurel Bay.
"I am the quality-control manager on the bases and work for several different contractors," Bagley said. "Work varies between renovation and full additions, and I get hired by the contractor to look out for the government's best interests. I'm a bit of a regulator on the site."
Bagley was born and reared near Charleston on the Isle of Palms -- "When you didn't have to be a millionaire to live there." He dropped out of high school because he was bored but quickly realized life working in a factory was not the way he wanted to go.
"I was a rebellious child," Bagley said. "I wasn't involved in anything but school itself, and I was not attached. I had a myopic view of life then. After working in the textile mill nearby, it drove me to get my GED quickly."
Bagley had dropped out in the ninth grade but managed to earn his GED six months before his high school class graduated. He went straight to York Technical College in Rock Hill for two years and then transferred to Winthrop University, also in Rock Hill.
"I began to do extracurricular work in college, like theater and joining a fraternity," he said. "My friends and I actually started the frat, and I became the commander, which was similar to being the president."
With a degree in communication in hand, Bagley worked for a local TV affiliate in Charleston, doing two jobs.
"I was running up and down the halls like the film, 'Broadcast News.' I went in wanting to be Dan Rather, but I didn't quite make it," Bagley said. "I spent my time behind the camera."
LIFE IS GOOD
He left the TV business, moved in with neighborhood friends on the Isle of Palms and began reading the Bible.
"The summer after I retired from TV, I was a teacher for the summer," he said. "It was wonderful after working in television. I did framing on houses and fixed a lot."
Bagley started an appliance technician business, where he met what would become his second family, the Chamberlains.
His time with the Chamberlains taught him a lot about religion, among many other life lessons.
"We can learn things by making mistakes or by seeing our parents make mistakes and not doing what they did," Bagley said. "My natural-born family was dysfunctional, and the Chamberlains really taught me how to love. They were a good, Christian family, and I started going back to church and found that it quickly became more to me than one hour each week."
After doing it all and learning along the way, Bagley finds himself content in his Beaufort life.
"I like everything about Beaufort," he said.
"It is small, so you can see people you know everywhere, but it is also by the water. It has the character of Charleston without all the traffic and problems of a bigger city."
When Bagley isn't regulating a military job site, he spends time running, water skiing and working out at the Wardle Family YMCA. The fit Bagley lives on the water in the summertime.
He is the lead singer of a small band named the Dysfunksionals and is currently donating as much time as possible to his church, Tidal Creek Fellowship on Lady's Island. The church is starting construction on a new building -- a meeting space -- and Bagley is volunteering his help.
"God is the biggest part of my life," he said.
"I think He has a plan for my life. I see what you can get from hard work, and I like to accomplish goals. I set a goal and reach it. I like to look back at the end of the day and say I've accomplished something."