Charles Fraser & Mary Wyman Stone - A Sea Pines Love Story

Many people have fallen in love with Sea Pines over the years. But no two people have fallen in love with Sea Pines quite the way Charles Fraser and Mary Wyman Stone Fraser fell in love with it, and in the process, fell in love with one another.

It seemed at first, however, that everyone but them knew they were destined for one another. As the story goes, Charles needed a social director to entertain clients and executives. Someone suggested Mary Wyman Stone, whose family was in the textile industry in Greenville. Mary was working in Washington, D.C. for Strom Thurmond at the time. When Charles contacted Harry Dent, Thurmonds assistant, and asked about whether he should hire this girl from Greenville. Dents reply was, Hire her? You ought to marry her!" Mary said. "My mother wanted me to marry him, too" she added. Th is was even before the two had laid eyes on one another."Charles sent me literature about the company, which I quickly filed in the trash can," she said. For whatever reason, Mary in 1963 agreed to work for the company, but only for three months. Three months turned into six months, when Charles asked if she could stay on a little longer.Charles and Mary never really dated, but they spent just about every waking moment together during that six months as they both put in long hours with the company during Sea Pines formative years."Charles and I were together constantly," she said. "It really was a love effort." Back then, Mary said, there was really werent many options available except the William Hilton Inn to go out to eat. "Charles always would invite people to sit with him at his table and made sure that I was always seated there too." It wasnt until right before Mary was scheduled to leave Hilton Head Island, that Fraser realized he might never see her again. Charles proposed."I think he just woke up to the thought (of marrying me)," Mary said. Well, maybe Charles wasnt as oblivious as she made him out to be. Mary said every time she would be talking or socializing with a male peer, Charles would somehow manage to weave his way into the conversation."Sometimes it felt like there was a conspiracy going on," she said. Charles would come over with his"intellectual sword," and before she knew it the man would be gone. "I told (Charles) he was being rude."

Having accepted Charles proposal, Mary returned home to Greenville for awhile. Being away, Mary started having doubts, which she shared with her father. "He told me I had go better be sure," she said. With that advice, Mary returned to Hilton Head Island. "After the drive I was exhausted and lay down for awhile. I was waiting for Charles to return from work. "He rounded the steps, and right then and there I knew. Th at was it. A deep, deep loved dropped inside of me," she said. Laura Lawton Fraser, their youngest daughter, said watching her mother and father in action was inspiring."Th ey had an exquisite working relationship," said Laura Lawton.

"Very few women could have lived with my father," she added."They loved each other deeply and respected each others passion for ambitions in life." "I just realized he was so bright. I fell in love with his vision," Mary said. "He loved the boldness in me." While her father brought an intellectual aspect to their relationship and to the family, Mary balanced it with spirituality, having a deep faith in Christ, Laura Lawton said. Married Nov. 30, 1963, Mary and Charles were married for almost 40 years. Although she never drew a paycheck from the company after the two were wed, Mary continued working behind the scenes, helping Charles turn Sea Pines into a familyoriented, worldclass resort. And although she goes by Mary Wyman Stone Fraser, Mary said knew when it was appropriate to switch hats. "Ill always be Mrs. Charles E. Fraser. That's who I am," she said. Charles died following an explosion of a chartered boat on Dec. 15, 2002. Today, Mary lives in Brevard, N.C., and has a home in Atlanta.

Tuesday, Jul 16, 2024  |  4:31 PM