Powerful, polished, intelligent, strong, energetic, fun, a visionary, a gifted writer and through it all, incredibly stylish.
Those were were just some of the words her friends, family members and business associates used to describe the qualities of Hilton Head Island island icon, Margaret Greer, now approaching her 92nd year.
The moment her feet hit the sands of the island in 1961, nothing remained the same - not for Hilton Head, and certainly not for the island’s newest arrival. It would be impossible to imagine what the cultural scene -.particularly the visual and performing arts - would be without Greer’s creative, convincing, focused and unapologetic leadership.
“Margaret Greer can accomplish almost anything at the drop of a hat,” said author and publisher Pamela Ovens. “She worked with Charles Fraser filling the “arts void” of the early days, putting on fashion shows, art exhibits and auctions that enhanced the lives of all islanders.. She has a great sense of humor which I admire and I am honored to call her my friend.”
Long time friend Diann Wilkinson points out that she has known Greer since 1968 when she and her family moved to Sea Pines. “She was always bright, hard-working, creative, spontaneous – and later, a big supporter of artist husband Walter’s work even before they married.”
When Margaret met and married the artist, Walter Greer, she added to her list of passions, not only the promotion of Sea Pines and Hilton Head, but the promotion of his work.
Together, they became the first visual art advocates on the island.
Louanne LaRoche, the island artist and former owner and director of the Red Piano Gallery, said of Margaret Greer’s impact on the art community: “Margaret has always been a kind of amazing beacon. She offered focus, support and guidance in the arts, elevating our community with her eloquence, intelligence, insight and passion.”
Artist Aldwyth, who lived in Beaufort and on Hilton Head in those early days, visits with Margaret often and they talk of their times together on the island, particularly about their member friends of the historic Red Piano Gallery’s “Round Table. “Margaret had such an important role in shaping the Sea Pines community’s expectations and making it, in many ways, an arts community,” said Aldwyth.
“Even then, Margaret felt strongly about Hilton Head’s natural surroundings, too, said Jim Chaffin, who has been involved in the early development of Hilton Head, and Callawassie and Spring islands. “ ... She had good ideas, and when she met up with Charles Fraser, they just seemed to click. He appreciated her creative insight, her style, and she admired his sense of adventure, his openness to fresh ideas, and his ability to create his own vision and to refine it.”
The Greers had some wonderful friends, all dedicated to early Sea Pines and to the arts and our surroundings. The Greers were known for their legendary beach parties, and elegant picnics.
“Everyone liked to kick up their heels at Margaret’s gatherings,” said Chaffin. “We all looked forward to those parties...the two were just plain fun to be around.”
Almost six decades later, Margaret Greer, is still the picture of style, graciousness, poise, intellectual curiosity, and still promoting the arts of Hilton Head. She is currently overseeing, directing, really, the design and appointments for the new residence she and Walter share.
Artist, musician, teacher and writer Nancy K. Wellard focuses on portraying and promoting the cultural arts, first in Los Angeles and, for close to 30 years, in the Lowcountry. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Margaret Greer: She ‘went right to work’
Margaret Greer arrived on Hilton Head Island, with her husband, Larry Orr and two children, Jane, 11 and Jim 9, in 1960.
Instantly taken by the setting, she wasted no time in laying the groundwork for a new beginning on Hilton Head. She purchased an ocean front lot on Sand Hill Crane, and saw to the building of her first house.
There were several to follow.
Columbia, Spartanburg, Anderson and Charlotte had been home to Margaret during her earliest years.
There she saw to her education, then her family, their home, and their community. She even ventured to New York, to consider options in musical performance.
She returned home and began, in earnest to uncover the details of establishing a new home on an island.
No surprise to find that Island life for Margaret and the children, was idyllic, but that first marriage ended in divorce.
“Margaret went right to work to build a new life in Sea Pines, and to become an important part of the community,” said friend Jim Chaffin.
The reality of the need to work to provide for her children lead to her first employment under the creative and watchful eye of Sea Pines developer Charles Fraser. She took on the challenges of the business world, added an impressive series of leadership activities as a volunteer, and overtime, authored five books.
“Charles and Margaret shared a lot of the same ideas, philosophies, really, “ said Chaffin. “They both felt strongly about the uniqueness of people, their concepts about where they chose to live, and especially their ideas.”