Giving the Gift of Time

““Words are pretty, but anyone can talk. Pay attention to the people who perform.”   – Pat Conroy – Beach Music

Our dedicated volunteers who guide and inform you through the many priceless Pat Conroy artifacts share their talents and enthusiasm with the communities of readers, writers, teachers, and students we serve through our year-round educational programs and public outreach.

The Conroy Center’s board of directors and staff are tremendously grateful for the generosity of spirit exemplified by our many volunteers, who make our work both possible and rewarding.

Here below are our docents and volunteers so that when you visit the center you know who you may meet…

Note: Please know we keep certain people on this page even though they are no longer active due to various reasons… and yet they were stalwarts of the literary world and dedicated supporters of Pat Conroy Literary Center. We add the word “Inactive” to their name.

For comments on this page or on this web site, contact Mihai Radulescu, founding board member and web master:

Our Docents

Donna Armer

I was born in Virginia and have lived all over the south with only one stint in the north where I nearly froze to death before heading south again. I was in senior management for insurance companies and then the airlines. Until one day, when my husband Ray and I decided the only board meetings we wanted to attend were the five minute ones we held in the hallway when we became the proud owner/cooks of a restaurant, catering service and B&B in south Georgia. We are now retired and in April 2019 celebrate five years in Beaufort.

We traveled quite a bit especially in Italy and we have beautiful memories of new friends sharing their culture, history, food and wine—the world can be a magnificent place if our hearts are open.

Donna Armer

Gina came to Beaufort by way of the Marine Corps where she served for 26 years. Like Pat Conroy, Beaufort was the town that she adopted as her home after retirement. With a degree in Early Childhood education, she then embarked on a career in teaching in the Beaufort County school district where she taught kindergarten for 13 years before retiring in 2014.

Gina continues to lecture in schools in Beaufort County and work with children where she can. She is a docent at the Beaufort History Museum and volunteers at the National Park Service Reconstruction Exhibit.  She was a docent with the Santa Elena History Center for 6 years.

She is enthusiastic about volunteering at the Pat Conroy Literary Center because she shares a deep appreciation for the Marine Corps, teaching, and a love of reading with Pat. She said, “I can learn and talk about a man that I have admired for a long time”.

Will Balk - Inactive

Will Balk, Jr. grew up in the Lowcountry and shares generations of his family’s love for its history and beauty. He spent many years as a bookseller in Washington, DC and in Beaufort, where he first got to know Pat. He is an essayist and columnist, and is a contributor to Our Prince of Scribes. Among his greatest pleasures in life is sharing ‘Pat stories’ with visitors to the Pat Conroy Literary Center.

Rebecca Bruff

Rebecca Bruff heard the story of Robert Smalls on her first visit to South Carolina. She was so captivated that she left her job and moved across the country to research and write this story which will be soon published. She volunteers at the Pat Conroy Literary Center in Beaufort, South Carolina. She has published non-fiction, plays a little tennis, travels when she can, and loves life in the lowcountry with her husband Tom and a silly golden retriever.

Rebecca Bruff

After 40 years with the Defense Department in Washington DC, Fred moved to Sun City where he enjoys life with his wife and regularly serves as a docent for the Pat Conroy Literary Center.   Born in Mexico City, his accent and worldly savvy charms visitors.

Rebecca Bruff

I just love being a docent and loving great literature as I do, The Literary Center is a perfect fit for me. I also guide historical tours through the Verdier House here in Beaufort and volunteer with Meals on Wheels for my church as well as Family Promise of Beaufort County assisting homeless families. Working with people makes me happy.

Rebecca Bruff

Norma Duncan had a unique friendship with Pat… she was secretary to the principal at Beaufort High School and enrolled him the day he arrived as a student. Their mutual love and admiration of the Randel family and Gene Norris cemented their friendship over the years.

Stephanie Austin Edwards

Before Stephanie returned to the Lowcountry of South Carolina, and to her love of writing, she had a twenty-two-year career in New York Theater. She now writes fiction and non-fiction, facilitates writer’s groups, teaches writing workshops, and consults with authors. Her recent work includes: What We Set in Motion: a novel, Our Prince of Scribes, an anthology about her high school friend, Pat Conroy, and Short Story America VI. She is honored to be part of The Pat Conroy Literary Center.

Char Lane

Char Lane, a northern gal visited the low country in 2011, fell in love with Beaufort and moved here with her husband Rom, a true southern gentleman from South Carolina. Her love of reading brought her to the Pat Conroy Center where she currently enjoys helping people discover the center.

Marilyn Harcharik

Marilyn was born and raised in Ohio but ventured into the “south” with her years at Duke University.   After graduation, she lived in Washington DC where she was a computer programmer then marketer and ultimately owned her own computer business.  During retirement, she has lived on boats, wandering up and down the Intracoastal and has also lived in Hilton Head, Savannah and Beaufort (since 2003).

Her passions are reading, golf, and community service.   In Beaufort, she has served on the hospital foundation board, the Friends of the Library board and is now helping out at the Pat Conroy Literary Center.   A devoted fan of Conroy’s writing, she is even more impressed with his legacy of values that inspire readers and writers.

Kathy Conroy Harvey

Pat Conroy’s younger sister, has been a Registered Nurse in Beaufort for 27 years in a prevention program with USMC Tri-Command. Kathy is the glue that holds many of us together.
Kathy, a graduate of Beaufort High, earned her nursing degree at the Technical College of Lowcountry. In 1978 she married a local boy, Bobby Joe Harvey. Their son Will, a gifted jazz musician, and his wife Laura Seiverling and daughter Coda live in Charleston where Will teaches at Allegra Music School.
Kathy enjoys gardening, quilting, and volunteering when she is not spending time with her family.

Kathy Conroy Harvey

I love the Pat Conroy Literary Center. The people who visit are amazing with their stories of meeting Pat or reading one of his books for the first time and the emotions that come through. Pat Conroy has such a wide circle of people he has touched with his books and they are from all over the world. It is an honor to be a small part of the Center.

Elizabeth Pisano

Regretfully we have to tell you that Otis has retired. He is still around and chasing “butterflies” but decided he could no longer attend to the demanding Conroy Center requirements since he has to pursue other interests… We wish him Best Luck in his new endeavors such as enjoying his naps and running like the wind on Hunting Island. He will be missed!

Elizabeth Pisano

Barbara Marsee joined the PCLC in July of 2021.  She moved from NJ to the low country in 2014 with her husband and enjoyed 6 wonderful years here with him before his passing in 2020.  In NJ she enjoyed a 35 year career in nursing with a concentration in Community Health.  Now she enjoys reading fiction, cooking, telling stories, and learning to quilt.  She also loves visiting with her grandchildren in Charlotte whenever possible. Working at the PCLC has given her the opportunity to learn about Pat and his works while meeting people from different places.

Elizabeth Pisano
Cathy is a native South Carolinian who fell in love with Pat Conroy’s writing when she read The Lords of Discipline in 1980, and it’s still her favorite. She is a retired educator of 38 years, working for the Department of Defense Schools teaching the children of the military for 30 of them, 22 in Germany, and 8 divided between DoD schools in Ft. Stewart, GA, and Laurel Bay in Beaufort. Cathy enjoys spending time with her family here in Beaufort, her daughter, son-in-law, and two grandchildren, reading, exercising, and writing a monthly newsletter for her Celadon neighborhood. She is honored to be a part of the Conroy Center as a volunteer, meeting fellow devotees to Conroy’s work.
Elizabeth Pisano

Elizabeth and her husband Joel moved to Beaufort from Spring Lake NJ. The Pisano’s chose to build a home on King Street in Beaufort’s Old Commons neighborhood. Elizabeth enjoys walking to all that downtown Beaufort has to offer including the Conroy Center! She fell in love with the Lowcountry while reading Pat’s books and will always be grateful to him for that gift.

Dona Ridenout

Dana Ridenour is the award-winning author of Behind The Mask, Beyond The Cabin, and Below The Radar. She is a retired FBI agent who spent most of her career infiltrating criminal organizations as an FBI undercover operative. Dana is an avid kayak angler who enjoys life in the Lowcountry. She is honored to be part of the Pat Conroy Literary Center.

Elizabeth Pisano

After retiring from the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., Nancy Ritter came to the Lowcountry to write for two months… and simply forgot to go back. She stayed because: (1) the chance to be part of the Pat Conroy Literary Center was intriguing, and (2) the trees in Beaufort — both dead and alive — blew her mind (look at the size of the oak root-ball behind her at Hunting Island, one of her favorite places).

Elizabeth Pisano

Ann is a native of Western New York where she raised two children with her husband, David, and taught elementary and middle school for 20 years. Family summer vacations on Hilton Head Island led to the discovery of the town of Beaufort; its charm, history, and her favorite author. Ann feels lucky to be able to spend retirement on Hilton Head, and enjoys reading with The Pulpwood Queens Bookclub, volunteering at The Coastal Discovery Museum, and Public Tennis Inc. She is especially grateful for the opportunity to be an ambassador at the Literary Center, where she can share her passion for Pat Conroy and his legacy with others.

Terri Stokes

Terri Stokes (a true Southern girl) and her husband, Mark, own Bay Street Jewelers in downtown Beaufort.  She graduated from the University of South Carolina with a degree in Business Administration, Management.  They have one son, Brandon, who is married to his high school sweetheart, Megan – they live in Charleston with two precious children, Watson and Rosie.
Terri is very active in the community being a member of The Baptist Church of Beaufort, The Lowcountry Rotary Club, The Beaufort Shag Club, The Friends of the Library, and The Beaufort Book Bashers book club.  When she isn’t working or volunteering, she enjoys spending time with her family, college football, the beach, shag dancing and playing Mah Jong.
She absolutely loves being a docent for the Pat Conroy Literary Center and sharing her passion for reading and carrying on Pat’s legacy.

Terri Stokes

Martha grew up in Georgia and graduated from the University of Georgia. She sold real estate but now spends her time writing and rowing. As M. Z. Thwaite, she has published several novels, short stories, and essays. Her next book will be historical fiction inspired by incidents that involved her ancestors.

Donna Wersler

A Beaufort, South Carolina native and a recent retiree, Donna enjoys reading, history, needlework, fitness, movement and dance.

Donna Wersler

I moved from Long Island to Bluffton two and a half years ago, and the first thing I did was to sign up to volunteer for the Pat Conroy Literary Center. I had been a teacher of English as a Second Language in New York, and have been retired for 12 years now. I thought my reading, writing and teaching skills might be a help to the Center.
Pat was a favorite author and I was thrilled to be able to join a community that preserved his legacy. I was happy to work at our first site on Charles Street, but am delighted now to help visitors explore the great new Center. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know the people who are working to keep Pat’s ideals alive.

Donna Wersler

Edwin Williams is a retired college professor, a former Director of International Studies, and former president of TraveLearn, a company specializing in “learning vacations for adults.” After 18 years in the lowcountry and teaching courses on Pat Conroy and his writing for OLLI over the past four years, Ed claims that he now has a “lowcountry heart.”

Ed enjoys being a docent at the Center and meeting such interesting people with a passion for Pat’s writing.

Our Volunteers