Hilton Head-Bluffton chamber honors community leaders

A crowd of more than 500, consisting of civic leaders, chamber members and community volunteers, turned out for the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce ball Saturday night.

The annual black-tie event honors those people and organizations in the community who “exemplify what it means to give of yourself or give back to the community,” said Charlie Clark, vice president of communications for the chamber.

The theme for this year’s gala, held at the Westin Hilton Head Island Resort & Spa, was “The Art of the Possible.”

Col. Richard “Dick” Wiles, a community volunteer and philanthropist, was honored with the Alice Glenn Doughtie Good Citizenship Award, the evening’s leading award.

Wiles, who is retired from the Army, was recognized for “embodying the award’s standard of “selfless community service leadership.”

Since relocating to Hilton Head from Alexandria, Va., 16 years ago, Wiles, has been instrumental in shaping some of the community’s most charitable institutions, chamber officials said Saturday night.

He is known for his longstanding commitment to Lowcountry organizations, having served as board chairman and on the boards of The Children’s Center and Programs for Exceptional People.

His generosity extends to numerous organizations including the Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra, The Hilton Head Choral Society and Operation R&R, which helps military families, the awards banquet’s selection committee noted.

“You will likely find Dick where there are events and activities to benefit those less fortunate, and where there is work to be done,” said Janet Smith, former executive director of The Children’s Center. “Dick has in the truest sense of the word an ‘altruistic spirit,’ someone who always puts others first.”

The Alice Glenn Doughtie Good Citizenship Award was first presented in 1971 in memory of Doughtie, who died at 22 after a short life in service to others.

Other highlights from the evening included several performances by “American Idol” season 12 winner Candice Glover who was introduced by “Idol” hopeful, Lee Jean, of Bluffton, via a video shown on several large screens. Jean has been competing on the show and is still in Los Angeles.

Additional honors for the evening included the Organization of the Year Award which went to Hospice Care of the Lowcountry.

Lauded for its commitment to providing the highest standards of comfort and compassion, Hospice Care of the Lowcountry has been serving the community since 1982, officials said.

The Sue West Educator of the Year award went to Freddie Carson, who has served as a visual arts and ceramics teacher at Hilton Head Preparatory School for 31 years.

Carson has dedicated herself to her students and to developing relationships with fellow artists at Savannah College of Art and Design, Appalachian State and many others.

Covert Aire was named the Bluffton Regional Business Council Member of the Year.

Bluffton businessman Mike Covert has served on numerous local boards and currently serves as president of the Rotary Club of Bluffton.

In addition, he has made major commitments to McCracken Middle School and Bluffton High School, supported Toys for Tots, Backpack Buddies of Bluffton and launched and pledged $10,000 last year for “Operation Warm-Up” which repairs or replaces heating systems in the homes of those who cannot afford them, officials said.

Leslie Richardson was named Zonta Woman of the Year.

Richardson has influenced change and made immeasurable, meaningful contributions to Hilton Head Island’s quality of life, officials said. As marketing director for The Richardson Group, South Carolina Yacht Club, Local Pie, Windmill Harbour Real Estate and Coligny Plaza, she’s an active ambassador for the island.

She has also served on numerous boards and committees including St. Luke’s Foundation, Hilton Head Preparatory School, Arts Center of Coastal Carolina, Coastal Discovery Museum and numerous others.

For additional information on the awards or the chamber, visit

Mindy Lucas: 843-706-8152, @MindyatIPBG

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