May 2008

Teammates: Gloria and Allan LaCoe

Author: Paul deVere

Allan and Gloria LaCoe made a rather astute observation about their island home. That would be Hilton Head Island, since 1995.

“We travel quite a bit,” Allan said. “We go visit friends, say in Dallas, someplace like that, and they take us to their ‘favorite’ restaurant. Afterward, they say, ‘Wasn’t that great?’ Well, Gloria and I look at each other and say, ‘Sure.’”

Gloria is smiling, nodding her head. She’s heard the story before.

“One favorite restaurant,” Allan grins. “On Hilton Head, we could eat at a favorite five-star restaurant every Friday night, 52 weeks out of the year, and never eat at the same place twice.”

According to the LaCoes, neither Dallas or Chicago or New York can hold a candle to Hilton Head Island.

Listen to the LaCoes for two minutes and they sound like they’re vying for another star on their Chamber of Commerce membership cards. Listen for a few minutes more and their love and appreciation for Hilton Head Island almost overwhelms you, in a delightful way.

The LaCoes got into the real estate business in 1998 and now work with Dunes Marketing Group. When Allan was in the furniture business back in Atlanta, people asked him what he was going to do when he retired. “I said I was going down to Hilton Head and sell real estate. They’d say, ‘You are not.’ And I’d say, ‘Yes, I am.’ I never thought it would really happen,” he said.

When the LaCoes moved to the island, they were interested in playing a great deal of golf. But something happened along the way. A passion was born. While the real estate business kept them very busy, golf took a back seat to Allan and Gloria’s other commitments: the Boys and Girls Club (Gloria is on two boards), Main Street Youth Theater and Salkehatchie Summer Service—a project for youths 14 and up who physically improve homes for the needy in various communities. “It’s a life-changing experience. Kids who never held a power tool in their hand, never had a hammer. That’s what makes us tick. That’s what we really, really like to do,” Allan said.

“This summer we’re going to Belize—parents and children,” said Gloria. “Not the nice Belize. We’re going up in the mountains. There’s a school up there for about 80 kids and we’re going to build some block houses for the teachers that now have to commute on bicycles about 10 -12 miles a day, back and forth.” Gloria will also be going to China in September on a mission trip to look at women’s shelters and water treatment facilities. “You can spend more time volunteering here than you did working in your previous life,” Allan said.

But what the LaCoes may be the most proud of in their lives of giving back to the community happened in 1999, when the first Community Thanksgiving Dinner was held at Hudson’s restaurant. “Betsy Doughtie (Executive Director of Deep Well) had an article in the paper that said something like lonely locals have no place to go on Thanksgiving. So I called up Betsy. She told me I wasn’t the only person who called. We met in her office. Brian and Gloria Carmines showed up along with about three or four other people. Brian said his restaurant was closed and we could use Hudson’s. I told them if I go to our church (St. Andrews by the Sea Methodist Church) and said I need the funding to do this, I’ll get the money. That’s how it started,” Allan recalled.

Today, Hudson’s and 400-plus volunteers prepare 1,800 free dinners (donations are accepted and given to Deep Well). In 2002, the founders received the island oldest and most prestigious honor, the Alice Glenn Doughtie Good Citizenship Award.

The LaCoes also bring that spirit of giving into the business life. Gloria has earned the designation ABR, Accredited Buyers Representative, which means she can represent the buyer’s interest in a real estate transaction. It is usually the buyer who really needs the most help. Allan has the designation, SRES, Senior Real Estate Specialist. “I took that up because we’ve seen some older folks being taken advantage of. Family is sometimes far away and the parents are ready to transition into another way of living. Somebody has to be there to help them walk that journey,” Allan said.

“We really like Hilton Head,” said Allan. “Selling real estate here almost became, well, it wasn’t work. We think everybody should live here. When we lose a sale to some place else, we ask ourselves, ‘What didn’t we tell them? Did we tell them about the hospital; did we tell the about the airport, the arts center; did we tell them about all those wonderful things we have? Why would they ever go to Florida?’”

As for golf… Well. Gloria has the church choir and the hand bell choir. Then there’s the board of the Hilton Head Area Association of Realtors. Allan, well he would rather spend more time with his granddaughter, Keegan, when she’s on the island—like walking on the beach with her. Golf will wait. The passions shared by Gloria and Allan LaCoe can’t.

The Family Compound

Right. You’ve got about 50 people coming to dinner. Oh, and they all need a place to stay. And they would really like to stay on or near the beach. Plus have a private pool. And not be tripping over each other.

Obviously, what you need is a family “compound,” and Gloria and Allan LaCoe would be happy to help you. “There’s an ocean view from half the rooms and a private walkway to the beach,” said Allan.

These three homes, all on one large lot at Bradley Beach, could take care of your little group and have a few beds to spare. And everyone could sit down for your sit-down dinner. “It’s a perfect corporate retreat,” added Allan. “If a company entertains a good deal, this would be just right.”

The homes are, indeed, elegant. Each one has covered porches, pool, spa, and every accommodation for a pleasant time at the beach. While the homes will sell separately, LaCoe said the builder had a vision of what “could be.”

It could be like a Hilton Head Island version of one of those family compounds on Martha’s Vineyard, only with a much longer season. And warmer water. And much better golf.

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