The Beaufort History Museum is run by a volunteer Board, which has custody, and provides control and direction to the museum and its collections.  Board members serve three-year terms, and are (re)elected at each Annual Meeting.

Our Mission is "To preserve, promote, and interpret the experiences of our past that influence us now and in the future."

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Board Members

Kathryn Sommerville Mixon, Board President

Kathy is a fifth generation Beaufortonian. She says, “At an early age I learned to love, appreciate, value and protect the community my family (the Christensens) has been instrumental in building since the 1800s.” Kathy is multi-talented—she is an artist, educator, real estate broker, businesswoman, banker and civic leader. She earned a BA in Fine Arts, Studio with a minor in Education from the College of Charleston, South Carolina in 1979 and her Master’s in Early Childhood Education from the University of South Carolina in 1996.

Kathy serves as Vice President of the Board of Directors of the Friends of Fort Fremont and is the Design Committee Chair for Beaufort County’s project to build an interpretive center at Fort Fremont’s site. She is also a Board Member of the Friends of Whitehall Park and is working with the steering committee planning landscaping for the causeway there. Kathy is a member of Beaufort History Museum’s Education Committee, as well as BHM’s Exhibits Committee, which is currently planning the second phase of the Museum’s main Exhibit Hall renovation. For enjoyment, she cooks, sews, and paints in oils ( She is also a Master Gardner. Kathy has two adult sons—one lives in Beaufort and the other lives in Georgia and is married with two sons.

Kathryn was elected to Board Vice President in February 2020 and Board President in February 2022.

John Warley, Board Vice President

John Warley is a native of Florence, S.C. He attended The Citadel on a football scholarship and graduated in the class of 1967. After taking his law degree from the University of Virginia, he served in the army, spent two years in Washington, D.C. as staff counsel to a trade association, then moved to Newport News, Virginia, where he practiced law for 21 years and helped raise four children. In 2005, he and his late wife, Barbara, moved to Beaufort, South Carolina, where he lives today. He retired from the practice of law in 2011 and is currently a full time writer.

Though law was his profession, writing became his passion in the late 1980s. After a favorable response to his first novel, Bethesda’s Child, he took a two year sabbatical in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico to write his second novel, A Southern Girl. Mexico also presented him with the chance to teach. He accepted a professorship at Tecnol√≥gico de Monterrey, often called the “MIT of Mexico,” where he taught U.S. Business Law to bilingual juniors and seniors. That teaching experience inspired him to participate in USCB’s OLLI program in Beaufort, where his online history lectures have been viewed thousands of times.

He is the award-winning author of five published novels: A Southern Girl, Bethesda’s Child, The Moralist, The Moralist II and The Home Guard. This last title, The Home Guard, is historical fiction set in Beaufort during the Civil War, the research for which contributed to his appreciation for this unique town. He also wrote a history of The Citadel entitled Stand Forever, Yielding Never; The Citadel in the 21st Century, published in 2018 and now in its second printing. In 2011, his essay “Lingering at the Doors” was selected by NPR, National Public Radio, for publication in This I Believe on Fatherhood. In 2018, the University of Georgia Press published Our Prince of Scribes: Writers Remember Pat Conroy. His essay, “One Cadet’s Lamentations,” is included.

 John’s ancestral ties to the Lowcountry are significant. He is a great-grandson of Col. John “Tuscarora Jack” Barnwell, generally credited with founding Beaufort. His mother’s father, Robert Woodward Barnwell, grew up on Federal Street in Beaufort. 

John was elected to the Beaufort History Museum Board of Directors in April 2021 and Board Vice President in February 2022.

Ginnie Kozak, Board Treasurer

Ginnie’s first experience with history museum operations was as a volunteer docent at the Oldest Stone House Museum as a teenager in Lakewood, Ohio. She followed up on that as a college student, majoring in history and art history at Vassar College, and worked one summer as a National Park Service ranger/historian at the Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site in Hyde Park, New York.

Ginnie went on to receive an MS in Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Toronto and worked in that field--mostly in management positions--on projects for the rapidly growing metropolitan Toronto area as well as redevelopment of downtowns in small rural municipalities in other parts of the Province of Ontario. Ginnie would later relocate to Kingston, Ontario and earn an MBA from Queen’s University with an emphasis in marketing and strategic management. But Ginnie never left her love of history behind.

In 1992 she chose Beaufort as her new home. Shortly after Ginnie arrived she sought to read a book about the occupation of Beaufort and the surrounding Sea Island by Union troops in 1861 but could not find one of sufficient depth on the subject. Ginnie spent a lot of time at the library researching the topic as well as additional visits to the South Carolina Historical Society in Charleston. Her research in primary sources resulted in her book entitled Eve of Emancipation.

From 1992 until 2018 she was an adjunct business instructor, starting at Technical College of the Lowcountry and continuing with the Webster and Park University branches on local military bases. Ginnie returned to planning in 2001, as Planning Director at the Lowcountry Council of Governments and stayed until she retired in 2020.

Ginnie was elected to the Beaufort History Museum Board of Directors in April 2021 and Board Treasurer in February 2022.

Bill Skipper, Board Secretary

Bill grew up in Jacksonville, Florida but has strong family roots in South Carolina (Horry County) that date back to when Carolina was an English colony.   After a 20-plus-year successful career as a Naval Cryptologist, leading intelligence teams assigned to U.S. Navy tactical units (surface, subsurface, and air), serving on a Flag Staff Officer staff, and managing military and civilian personnel involved in strategic, shore-based intelligence missions, Bill returned to civilian life. As a civilian, he continued his support of Department of Defense intelligence programs.  Over a period of 31 years, he built a successful track record developing and directing the development of multiple information systems products including acceptance testing, configuration management, interactive performance support tools, and computer-, Web-, and video-based training products for adult learners. Whether as a career military man or a civilian, Bill’s work experiences have been highly diversified and always characterized by his preference for a hands-on approach.

He has a passion for South Carolina history and has been pleasantly surprised to learn of the strong historical links between his native northeast Florida and Beaufort County.  Bill enjoys researching his family’s genealogy, which is a project providing some interesting background on their migration from the mid-Atlantic into the Carolinas.

Bill has an MS in Systems Management (Information Systems) from the University of Southern California, a BA in Business Management from the University of Maryland, and is a graduate of the Defense Language Institute West Coast (Russian). He has received multiple professional certifications including that of Project Management Professional (PMP) and Certified Scrum Master (CSM).

Bill was elected to Board Secretary in February 2020.

Thomas J. Kelley

Tom is a native of Philadelphia who retired to Dataw Island near Beaufort with his wife, Susan, in 2016. He was awarded a B.S. degree in Government from Georgetown University in 1973 and J.D. from Villanova University School of Law in 1976. Tom’s practice focused primarily on defense litigation, both in private practice and as a 25-year employee of The Travelers Insurance Company. He founded the Travelers Staff Counsel office covering northeastern Pennsylvania and served as Managing Attorney there for the last 15 years of his legal career. Tom has served as a docent at the Beaufort History Museum since February 2017 and is currently a member of its Exhibits Committee. He is also a member of the Dataw Historic Foundation and Friends of Hunting Island.

Fred Channels

Fred's career has been characterized by progressively challenging military, Government civil service, and civilian contractor assignments.  From his early days as a Marine Corps helicopter mechanic/crew chief serving with the Presidential Flight Detachment to his final retirement from U.S. Government service more than 50 years later, Fred's diverse experiences included such prestigious assignments as Executive Officer, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army (Strategic Communications and Business Transformation) as an Army Colonel and later as a senior-grade civil servant in the Army's Office of the Chief of Engineers responsible for the planning, management, and execution of all aspects of engineering for the Army and other Defense activities.

Fred is a U.S. Army Command and Staff College Graduate, U.S. Army War College (AWC) Graduate, and earned a Master of Public Administration degree from Shippensburg University while attending the AWC.  

Fred currently resides in Beaufort, SC where he serves as a docent at three of our area’s most recognized museums including the Beaufort History Museum, the USMC Parris Island Marine Corps Museum, and the Fort Fremont History Center.   He is also a member of the Friends of Fort Fremont and that organization’s Board of Directors.   Additionally, he is the current President of Lowcountry Chapter of the Military Officers of America Association.

Fred was elected to the Board in September 2020.

Mary L. LeGree

Mary Rivers Legree is a native of Saint Helena Island where she spent her childhood years in the Coffin Point community. Mary relocated to New York City at an early age where she lived until the early 1970s when she moved to Detroit, Michigan and embarked on a career in the automobile industry. Upon her retirement in 2004, she returned to her native Saint Helena Island, where she became interested in researching our rich local history and the role African Americans had. Mary's research inspired her to write a narrative titled “A Brief History of Saint Helena Island”.

Mary has been a very active in multiple Beaufort area community organizations including a leadership position as Planning Commissioner for the Beaufort County Council and membership on multiple communities including the Saint Helena Community Preservation Committee, the Saint Helena Cultural Protection Overlay Committee and the Northern Beaufort County Sub-Committee. She also served four years as President of the Penn Club.

Mary widened her involvement as a lecturer making presentations at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI), University of South Carolina Beaufort Campus (2013 and 2014), Penn State University (2014), the Senior Leadership of Beaufort County (2016), and the Peace Corps Alumnae 50th Anniversary and Celebration (2016) to name a few.

Mary has a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Detroit and is a graduate of the Leadership Beaufort Class of 2010.

She was elected to the Beaufort History Museum Board of Directors in September 2020.

Ryan Copeland

Ryan is a native of Beaufort and 4th-generation Beaufortonian. Graduating from Clemson University with a BA in Speech and Communication and a minor in History, he worked in public relations and marketing in the non-profit world for a decade in Beaufort before going back to school to obtain his Master's in Library and Information Science. 

For the past six years he has been the librarian/media specialist at Battery Creek High School, doing his best to educate without overwhelming the minds of teenagers. Additionally, he has been a columnist with the Beaufort Gazette/Island Packet since 2014 and is the author of three non-fiction books about the lowcountry. 

He lives in the Mossy Oaks area with his wife, Leigh (also a Beaufort native) and their two boys, Lukas and Reames. 

Ryan was elected to the Beaufort History Museum Board of Directors in April 2021.

James Kemper (Jamie) Millard

Jamie holds his bachelor’s degree from Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky., where his love of history was nurtured by the late Dr. John D. Wright, Jr. As a point of fact, he and Madelyn honeymooned in a restored house in the historic area of Colonial Williamsburg – in January, so no one would be in their way.

He is the published author of two books: Chesapeake & Ohio Railway Passenger Service: Second to None (C&O Historical Society, Clifton Forge, Va.) and Kentucky’s Saddlebred Heritage (Arcadia Publishing, Mount Pleasant, SC.).

A native of Lexington, Kentucky., Jamie has served as a writer for the Associated Press, assistant news director for the NBC affiliate, promotions director for the CBS affiliate, director of the annual fund for his alma mater, account supervisor for the parent company of Long John Silver’s Seafood Shoppes, senior vice president of communications for Nutri/System, president of St. James Place Affordable Housing for Military Veterans, and president of the Lexington History Museum. He has also served as president of The Blue Grass Trust for Historic Preservation, commissioner on the Lexington Greenspace Commission, and member of the Board for Rural Land Management. From 1993-2021, he managed Waterwild Farm, LLC, the family business in Lexington.

He and his wife moved to Beaufort in 2019.

Jamie was elected to the Beaufort History Museum Board of Directors in April 2021.

Ex Officio Board Members

Phil Cromer

Liaison to the Beaufort City Council

Our mission is to preserve, promote and interpret the experiences of our past that influence us now and in the future.

The Beaufort History Museum is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. 713 Craven Street, Beaufort, SC 29902

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