The June 4 issue of The Post and Courier reports that South Street Partners recently purchased Kiawah Partners. Buddy Darby will relinquish his position as CEO, and the Kiawah Island’s visionary guide for the past 25 years will move on to new opportunities.
No doubt residents of Kiawah warmly welcome South Street Partners.
At the same time, as former chairs of the Kiawah Island Community Association board who worked closely with Buddy, we feel it is timely to express our appreciation for the legacy he has built.
Few individuals can claim to have enhanced the quality of life of thousands of others, but Buddy has earned the right to that claim. During his 25 years he created an unparalleled community for people to live in and vacation, and created thousands of jobs for workers throughout the Charleston area.
And he did it in the right way. John Connolly, present KICA board chair, described Buddy’s contribution effectively in a letter to residents:
“His vision to maintain Kiawah’s pristine nature while creating a high-end community consistent with graceful topography — a blending of elegance in an award-wining environmentally sensitive preserve — is evident throughout the island today.”
Those of us who worked with him on the board and in more private settings saw the real substance of the man, one committed to making Kiawah special even when it was not always profitable to do so.
Kiawah was developed at a density far below what was initially envisioned, which allowed the development of open spaces.
Property was donated to conservation easements, and it was required that the development not infringe on the character and enjoyment of the beach.
“Quality” was a word that we often heard at board meetings. In using the term he referred not just to big real estate developments but also to specific details like the look of the roads, plantings throughout the island and the color of fences and signs. He understood that quality came from the bottom up as well as from the top down.
He also understood that Kiawah Partners should “give back” to the community. He has been a good partner to all of the other entities in the community. Kiawah Partners always led the way in supporting charities, community organizations and the arts.
A leading example is his support of the Kiawah Island Conservancy.
He was “front and center” in protecting Kiawah’s wildlife. After all, it was a big part of the way the island looked and functioned.
We each had the opportunity to spend personal as well as professional time with him. He has a great sense of humor, a playful and creative mind and a toughness to overcome his critics. He also is and he is a master negotiator.
Past board chairs remember well those phone calls from Buddy when he had a view different from ours. But we also remember that his bluster was his first gambit, and we quickly learned that if he heard a better plan he would be the first to adopt it.
We can hear Buddy saying as he reads this that “this is not a wake.” No, it is not, but it is a celebration of 25 great years of work and an anticipation that whatever projects he undertakes next are going to be equally exemplary.
Gray Fox Den Court
This letter was also signed by Craig Weaver and Russell Warren.