When Greg DeLoach was named staff attorney for the Town of Hilton Head Island in 1991, he had no idea what lay ahead for him professionally nor for the island itself. No one on the town staff did, really.
Back then, the town owned no land, and there wasn’t a public park anywhere on the island.
He served as town liaison with outside counsel, and advised town council, staff and commissions on legal issues. As the island grew, so did DeLoach’s responsibilities. There was sustained growth and perpetual, momentous forward movement.
“I picked up duties over the years,” said the Washington, D.C.-born DeLoach. “When you’re with an organization for a while, you pick up new responsibilities, so for me it was a seamless transition.”
For many years, he served concurrently as town attorney and as assistant town manager, a new title created by town manager Steve Riley who reorganized Town Hall into two administrative entities.
After advising departments legally for many years, he was asked to manage several departments operationally, including finance, information technology, records and procurements, legal, human resources and municipal court.
“When Steve and I started, there were 50 town employees back then and now we’re at 250 to 255,” he said. “I saw my role as taking as much off Steve’s plate as possible. Mostly that meant being the inside guy to handle administrative matters … and handling all of the internal issues that arise. In order to meet the needs and providing services to the community, we have substantially evolved over the years.”
That trajectory changed last fall when DeLoach told his boss that he was going to retire. His last day on the job is Sept. 7.
“I’m 62 and it was simply a good time, a personal decision to do some other things,” said the University of South Carolina Law School graduate. “It was my decision.”
The decision, of course, was bittersweet.
“Like any job there are some things you’ll miss and other things you won’t,” said DeLoach, who has lived in Rose Hill with his wife since 1989 and raised two children there. “Working with a very professional, dedicated staff, elected officials, appointed officials and all of the island organizations … it was a team, like a sports team. You may not miss the practices as much as you’ll miss the people.”
DeLoach said he believes Hilton Head today is in good health.
“It’s never been just a function of local government,” he said. “Everybody plays a role in the town’s success. Our role is important, but limited. Our success is dependent on the private sector and nonprofits as much as their success is on us.”
Lowcountry resident Dean Rowland is a veteran senior editor and freelance writer.