Marke's recaps its charity program recipients and announces plans to continue the program in 2009.

Marke's Heating & Cooling, Inc.'s 2008 Charity Program ended December 31, 2008, but, in spite of current economic challenges, company president Tim Ferguson reported that the company is going to strive to continue its popular program in 2009.

Because of the way the program is set up, each month the public is invited to vist and nominate its favorite charity. The organization receiving the most votes wins a $500 donation.

2009 INTRIGUING PEOPLE of the Lowcountry

Amee PatrickMeet Monthly's Intriguing People of the Lowcountry for 2009: Peter D. Baier, Debbie Berling, Steve Brown, Carlos Chacon, Fred Devyatkin, Don Hite, Erma Koenigsberg, Denise Kuss, Amee Patrick, Cynthia Rivers, Dick Stewart, Lisa Sulka, Cora Bett Thomas, Dr. Valerie Truesdale, Joni Vanderslice, Chuck Wielgus and Jim Willard.

Our area abounds with interesting personalities, making it quite a challenge to select only a handful for Monthly’s annual Intriguing feature.

To read more about 2009 Monthly's Intriguing People CLICK HERE.

In the Vanguard Mary Noonan sets the bar for Women in Philanthropy.

In the Vanguard Mary Noonan sets the bar for Women in Philanthropy.Since retiring to Hilton Head in 1995 fol- lowing a 30-year career in public relations, Mary Noonan has certainly made her mark on the community through her involvement in a number of organizations.

Noonan is a founding member of Women in Philanthropy, a fund of the Community Foundation of the Lowcountry. She has also served as an advisory board member from 2003 to present, as advisory board chair in 2008-09 and as the education chair from 2003-08.

Women in Philanthropy is one of the more than 200 funds of the Community Foundation of the Lowcountry, initiated in 2003 as an outgrowth of several focus groups the foundation conducted to see how they might more effectively foster women’s interests and giving in the community.

Pat Birmingham to take the driver’s seat of Meals on Wheels.

Pat Birmingham to take the driver’s seat of Meals on Wheels.Pat Birmingham is a true believer in Meals on Wheels – Bluffton and Hilton Head Inc., and the valuable service it provides to its clients throughout southern Beaufort County.

“Meals on Wheels is a great organization,” Birmingham said. “We’re not flashy, and we provide a valuable service to people who can’t prepare their own meals. You don’t get much more basic than food.”

Founded locally in 1979, the organization will soon enter its 30th year of service providing meals to clients regardless of their ability to pay. “We have never missed a day of serving meals, even when the occasional bad storm passes through,” he said.

Originally from Hoag Corners, N.Y., Birmingham started college but quit after two years to enter the Air Force Aviation Cadet program. He spent 20 years in the Air Force, for a short time as a navigator and the rest as a fighter pilot.

Lung cancer survivor achieves her North Pole dreams.

“Having lung cancer does not have to be as debilitating as it’s made out to be,” says Barbara Hillary.Barbara Hillary walks with a slight limp and reluctantly carries a cane – a stress fracture from training for her latest, top-secret adventure.

“Let’s just say I’ll be setting another world record,” the 76-year-old lung cancer survivor said with a smile, adding that her next “vacation” will take place in a dangerous, remote area.

It’s difficult to imagine anything can top Hillary’s last expedition – a three-week trek to the North Pole that required months of preparation. Hillary had to be in prime physical condition to endure the arctic elements – including 40-below temperatures and the constantly shifting ice – while skiing a majority of the way and carrying heavy supplies. The retired nurse also had to raise more than $22,000 for the trip by soliciting companies and appealing to the public.

Missy SantorumLowcountry dynamo generates energy for Palmetto Electric.

Most of us start our day with a cup of coffee to rev things up.   However, some of us come “naturally caffeinated”…our own little latte of energy.

There’s energetic, and then there’s Missy Santorum. This Lowcountry dynamo has been channeling all that get-up and go into our community since 1985 and without a coffee cup in sight. The moment you meet her, all that energy comes through and you realize that her to-do list seems to be in a whole different league than most.

When asked what she wishes she had a little more of, she’s quick to note, “I wish I could do it all.” But she’s a great example of today’s well-rounded woman who manages to balance her career, her family, which includes husband Dan and three children, and a volunteer workload and dedication to her community that might seem remarkable to most, but just part of a day in the life for Santorum.

A Concours d’Elegance icon.

October’s MVP: Rosemary Kimball - A Concours d’Elegance icon

If you attended the Hilton Head Island Concours d’Elegance & Motoring Festival in 2007, you’ll certainly remember Rosemary Kimball. She was wearing a 30s-era dress, hat and fascinating vintage fox stole. Although it will be difficult to top that outfit, Kimball will definitely wear something fabulous from one of the historic automotive eras celebrated at the Hilton Head Island Concours d’Elegance on Sunday, November 2, when more than 150 vintage vehicles compete for Best of Show. But Kimball is more than a fashionable addition to the Concours – arguably an integral centerpiece of the weekend; she’s responsible for why the event’s coveted awards are as artistic as they are prestigious.

Newsweek legend & Hall of Famer captured history through his lens.

Intriguing icon: Wally McNamee Hall of Fame photographerWally McNamee’s career as a photojour-nalist for Newsweek took him around the world - from the Olympics to the White House - covering the movers and shakers of the 20th century.

“It’s very, very hard work,” McNamee said of covering the Olympics. “It’s very frustrating work. It’s as much a bureaucracy as the federal government, and after the terrorist attack there [Munich in 1972] the security was very stringent.” But at the same time, “It’s very exciting,” he said. “I always liked sports and there you are with the best athletes in the world. It’s hard to get really good pictures - you have to use big, long lenses - but it’s worth it.”

His dad was a part-time sportswriter who covered the minor league Harrisonburg Turks in Harrisonburg, VA, where McNamee was born in 1932. “I thought I wanted to be a sportswriter,” McNamee said. But during a stint as a copy boy at the Washington Post he had a shot at covering sports as a photographer and got hooked.

The story of town founder Ben Racusin, Hilton Head Island’s First Mayor

Ben Racusin, Hilton Head Island’s First Mayor “I met her in Shanghai on a Wednesday,” said Ben Racusin of his unforgettable first encounter with the love of his life, Helen. “I don’t recall that either of us were too impressed.”

But then he felt a little different after another rendezvous. They married three months later, and they’ve been together for 61 years. It’s a love story that has made its way to Hilton Head Island. Following a world-wide career with the CIA, Racusin and his wife decided to spend their well-earned retirement years on Hilton Head Island.

Racusin holds the distinction of being Hilton Head Island’s first mayor – and while Charles Fraser may have had the original vision for what Hilton Head Island could be from a tourism standpoint, Racusin led the way to make it “home” for the residents. Friends first told the couple about “the most wonderful place” they had found, and convinced them to visit the island. They saw the charm and glimmer of Hilton Head back when a spring bridge was the only connection to the mainland. That was 41 years ago, and Racusin said he is just as impressed with Hilton Head Island today as he was when its thriving population consisted of about 3,000 people.

September’s MVP: Carol SchembraThere are great women, and then there are amazing women – those who make you stand taller, set the bar higher and pave the way for others a little each day. Yes…she’s amazing all right. She’s also compassionate, smart, loyal, business savvy and a giver, by anyone’s standard. Carol Schembra, president of the WatersEdge Board and secretary of Hilton Head Prep’s Board of Trustees, is an MVP and it only takes five minutes into an interview to discover why. The day Monthly spoke with Schembra was a momentous one – her 30th anniversary with husband Phil.