They Heart Brunswick
February 2022 Issue
By Kelly Hunter
Photography by Mike Force Photography
Rick and Sharon Hindery met at work. “She was one of the most hard-working and honest people I had ever met,” Rick said about Sharon. Still, it took him a little while to ask her out. “We knew each other and appreciated each other’s qualities before we got to a romantic or dating relationship,” Sharon explained, “I think more people really need to learn to be friends first, before the rest comes along.” When I asked how long they’ve been married, Sharon said, “We don’t do numbers,” while Rick interjected, “We always say, Forever.”
Anyone who encounters Rick and Sharon is struck by how happy they always are. “You’ve seen us retired,” Rick said, “We were literally working seven days a week.” That work was in Chicago, where they had to contend with cold winters in addition to hectic work lives. “Our life now is so different from the life we had in Chicago,” Rick continued, “We get to associate with anybody we want to. We get to take on any task we want to.” Sharon laughed, “And, say no!”
Although they had a general plan for eventual retirement, things changed in 2012. Rick and Sharon took two weeks off from their demanding jobs to attend their nephew’s wedding on Hilton Head Island and enjoy the area. Rick described the moment that Sharon altered the plan: “We were out on the beach at Hilton Head and she said, ‘Why don’t you go back to Chicago and resign?’” They were working for the same company at the time and decided they would both resign, but Sharon ended up continuing to work on a remote, part-time basis for more than a year.
Once the decision was made, things moved very quickly. They leased their condo in Chicago and hit the road. “One of the reasons that we are so happy: We left Chicago during a snowstorm on February first,” Rick elaborated, “We had our car in storage. We had all of our furniture in storage, and I’m gonna say we had two or three suitcases, plus Sharon’s work stuff.” They had a realtor in South Carolina, one in Georgia, and two in Florida. With 126 houses tagged on Zillow, there was a lot of looking to do. They used Rick’s sister’s house in Bluffton, SC, as a base of operations.
They knew they wanted to be someplace warm and near the water. “I enjoy anything with water,” Sharon said. Rick elaborated, “We don’t believe in reincarnation, but Sharon would like to come back as a sea otter.” As they looked at places up and down the coast, they started to notice a pattern. Rick told me, “We used to go out of our way to be back in Brunswick for First Friday, no matter where we were looking at houses that day.”
“We even cut a trip to Chicago short by a couple days to make it back in time,” said Sharon. They realized they had fallen in love with Brunswick.
“We fell in love with the people who had the restaurants and businesses on Newcastle Street,” said Rick. As much as they love Downtown, they knew they didn’t want a big Victorian, so they ended up buying a house in Belle Point. It was a one-story mid-century ranch on the marsh with a dock. The operative word there is “was.” Hurricane Irma brought some big changes to their home. After ending up with three feet of water inside the house and watching the dock nearly ram the house, changes were inevitable. Rick and Sharon took it in stride, though. Their one-story house became a two-story, with the first floor dedicated to crafts, yoga and a rec room.
Sharon can look on the bright side, “My old kitchen is now my craft room!” With such a big space, she has room to work on some big upcycling projects. Right now, she’s building a console table from reclaimed materials to be sold in Keep Golden Isles Beautiful’s online silent auction later this year. It incorporates an old aquarium stand that someone threw in the dumpster during the reconstruction and much of the wood they saved during demo. Even the stain and paint is leftover from past projects. This kind of environmentally-conscious activity comes naturally to the Hinderys, who got involved with Keep Golden Isles Beautiful soon after moving to the area.
Their love for the marsh and the water goes beyond the kayaking and sailing they enjoy. They’re both avid participants in KGIB’s marsh cleanups. Rick especially looks forward to pulling tires out of the marsh. He likes to see how many he can get. Much of Sharon’s crafting material has come out of the marsh during cleanups. They’re committed to taking care of the nature that first drew them to the area.
Rick was quick to remind me that, as much as they love the marshes and the live oaks and the Spanish moss, the energy of the people in Brunswick was the real draw. “The most powerful thing in the world is an idea whose time has come, and from my point of view, this is our time. There are people who are moving in and seeing the same vision, and the vision just grows, because so many of us are adding to it.” Sharon added, “It’s been the people.”
This couple seems to have found the fountain of happiness (which is better than the fountain of youth). Rick said, “We get up every morning, and we’re happy, and we know we’re happy-“ Sharon interjected, “We’re lucky to have each other, have our health –“ Rick continued, “And really the more doors you open, the more you can smile at people, you never know what’s gonna happen!” That’s their secret: love each other, play together, work together and love where you live. May we all find such happiness.
Family Ties: Rick and Sharon have two daughters and five grandchildren. Daughter Kate’s children are Audrey, Emerson and Lyla. Daughter Cindy has Natalie and John.
Windy City Connections: Both their daughters live in Chicago with their families.
Road Trip Tunes: The theme song for this phase of Rick and Sharon’s life together is “The Way” by Fastball. It really sums up how ready they were to head South!
A Heart for Volunteering: They work with One Hundred Miles, Keep Golden Isles Beautiful, Historic Brunswick Foundation, Downtown Development Authority, America’s Boating Club, International Seafarers’ Center and many more local organizations.
Life On the Water: They have a two-person kayak and a Hobie Cat.