Emory S. Campbell and the late Caroline “Beany” Newhall were inducted into the Hilton Head Island Hall of Fame at a ceremony Nov. 10 at the Sonesta Resort.
Recognized for his contributions to the cultural and environmental heritage of the Lowcountry, Campbell, born and raised on Hilton Head Island, was valedictorian of his high school class, earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Savannah State College, and a master’s degree in environmental engineering from Tufts University.
Throughout his career – first as environmental health engineer for the Beaufort-Jasper Health Center and then as executive director of the Penn Center on St. Helena’s Island – Campbell worked to bring public health measures to impoverished rural areas and to preserve and enhance the Gullah heritage of the Sea Islands. He spearheaded efforts to reestablish the family connection between the Gullah people and the West African nation of Sierra Leone, and in 2008 was elected chairman of the Gullah-Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor Commission. He has been featured in numerous documentaries, news magazines, films, radio and television programs, is author of the Gullah Cultural Legacies guidebook, and currently serves as president of the Gullah Heritage Consulting Service.
Newhall, who died in 1991, is being honored for her role as an environmentalist in preserving the original island habitat and natural beauty of Hilton Head Island. A graduate of Smith College, she moved to Hilton Head Island in 1954. She persuaded island developer Charles Fraser to set aside a 50-acre tract of “green space” that became the Audubon Newhall Preserve on Palmetto Bay Road.
Later she was instrumental in development of the Whooping Crane Conservancy in Hilton Head Plantation. As founder and first president of the Hilton Head Island Audubon Club, Newhall lead tours of the Preserve and other wildlife areas, protecting native species and coastal waters from the downside of rapid development.
Her activism and leadership helped keep German chemical company BASF from building a plant on Victoria Bluff across from Hilton Head, preventing pollution of precious coastal waters and damage to local sea life. She was given the Good Citizenship Award and named Woman of the Year by the Hilton Head Chamber of Commerce in 1972; the Audubon Newhall Preserve and the boardwalk at Whooping Crane Conservatory carry her name; and Beany Newhall Day was celebrated in 1985 and again in 2010. She was represented at the ceremony by her son, Ted Newhall.
The Hall of Fame was initiated in 2012 by the Rotary Club to acknowledge innovative and community-minded island residents. Selection of inductees is made by an anonymous group of longtime community leaders. Recipients are honored with bronze plaques at the Hilton Head Hall of Fame site at the Coastal Discovery Museum on Honey Horn Plantation.
Previous inductees included Charles Fraser, Fred Hack, Charlotte Heinrichs, and Charles Simmons Jr. in 2012; Tom Barnwell and Billie Hack in 2013; Ben Racussin, 2014; and Dr. Peter LaMotte and Dr. Jack McConnell in 2015.