The need for a Fisher House in Charleston was undeniable.
There are 75,000 Veterans and active military in the 22 coastal counties in South Carolina to
Georgia. Due to high hotel room prices in Charleston, up to 25% of treated Veterans had family
members sleeping in their hospital room or in their vehicle.
A Fisher House was needed.
The problem was that the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center didn’t have enough land to qualify
for a Fisher House.
No Problem Too Big
Most people would have stopped there. With some out-of-the-box thinking and a whole lot of
determination, Trux and Durbin Emerson, co-founders of Fisher House Charleston, came up with a
plan that lead to raising $4,000,000 to purchase the current site in August 2014.
Fisher House Charleston, at 150 Wentworth Street, in the heart of Charleston welcomed its
first guests in January 2018 into a massive 15,000 square feet, 16 bedroom
home-away-from-home in the heart of Charleston’s historical downtown. We couldn’t have asked
for a better location to be a solace for familes with loved ones being treated at
Charleston’s Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center.
Today and Tomorrow
Although the Fisher House Charleston is under the management of the Ralph H. Johnson Medical
Center, every Fisher House always relies on Community Support and Organizations to underwrite
incidental expenses. Friends of Fisher House Charleston is the surviving independent charitable
organization and 501c3 that provides this support. And we need your help today.
Fisher House Charleston Mission
To provide temporary accommodations to Veterans and their families while the
veteran is receiving medical attention at the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center, Charleston,
Friends of Fisher House Charleston's Executive Committee
Joshua Strimple, a Major and Military Intelligence Officer with the US Army
Reserve, was awarded the Defense Meritorious Service Medal for his service with
Operation New Dawn in Iraq in 2010-11. While continuing to serve in the Army
Reserve, Joshua founded the Charleston Classic, a golf and tennis tournament
that supports the national Wounded Warrior Project. Joshua is also a Financial
Advisor at Merrill Lynch Global Wealth Management in Charleston, SC and has
previous job experience in retirement plans for non-profit organizations, as
well as construction management for school districts.
The Harpers are a military family. Gil Harper grew up in an Air Force family; his
wife Kris, grew up in a Navy family; and they raised three Army
Gil served in the Army for 29 years, retiring as the Army's Chief
of Transportation. He served in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Latin
America and commanded the 593rd Area Support Group in Operations Desert Storm
and Restore Hope.
A graduate of the US Military Academy at West Point, he
earned masters’ degrees from Stanford University and was a National Security
Fellow at Harvard University. He has taught as an adjunct professor at College
of Charleston, The Citadel, and three other colleges.
After retiring from
the Army, Gil joined Pearson LLC, first as SVP, Warehousing and Fulfillment,
Penguin Group (USA) and later as Managing Director, Pearson Shared Services, UK.
In 2008 the Harpers relocated to Charleston where Gil consulted in Supply Chain
Management and Logistics.
The Harpers continue to support military
veterans and families. Gil served as President of the West Point Society of
Charleston and Chairman of the Board of Advisors, Patriots of the Lowcountry.
Kris works in the Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum; volunteers with
Olive Branch International, a humanitarian assistance organization supporting
military families worldwide.
Kathy graduated with her B. A. in Recreation Administration from Cal State
University, Long Beach and her M. A. from the University of St. Thomas. She
worked for the Department of Defense as a Morale Welfare and Recreation
Administrator in Germany, Korea and the United States before moving into
education with the Public-School system.
Upon her husband’s retirement
from the military, they moved to Maryland where she worked as a fund
raiser/program specialist for a Non-Profit and volunteered at the Andrews AFB
Fisher House. She became a member of the Andrews AFB Fisher House Board of
Directors and eventually was hired by the Board to as Outreach Program Manager.
She is currently retired but active in her community serving on the city's Park,
Recreation and Tourism Commission.
Kathy and her husband have been the
recipient of the care and support of the Fisher House Family while receiving
treatment and his recovery from Cancer. Because of the nurturing they received
while there, she has a strong passion for the Fisher House Organization and the
work they do for all of our veterans.
Born in Edgefield, SC. Butler moved to Washington, DC with his family when he was
a young boy. Returning to SC in 1990 to attend USC, he eventually moved to
Charleston which he has called home for close to 20 years. He works with
Carriage Properties and has enjoyed working in the real estate market for over a
decade. He is a member of the Order of St. John Volunteer Corps which led him to
find the Fisher House, and also The Society of Cincinnati, the oldest patriotic
organization in USA.
Butler, his wife and two young daughters enjoy life
by the water, an active sporting life along with the culture, arts and great
cuisine the Lowcountry offers in abundance. Butler’s family is familiar at the
Charleston Fisher House as they sometimes join him for his Thursday cooking
routine and grocery shopping for the Veterans and their families. Butler has
been a weekly volunteer since they opened in January 2018. Serving the Veterans
and their families in their time of need has brought Butler great joy. His work
there constantly renews his appreciation for The Fisher House which fills a
much-deserved need for those who have served our Country.
Will is an Army brat who spent the majority of his youth in Colorado Springs,
Colorado. He graduated from The Citadel and served as a Army logistician
retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel after 25 years of service. Following his
retirement from Active Duty, he continued to serve as a Department of the Army
Civilian until retiring again in 2016. In his last Civil Service assignment, he
served as the Assistant Chief of Staff for Logistics and Engineering at the Army
Cyber Center of Excellence at Fort Gordon, GA.
Will and his wife Carol
have been married for 35 years and reside in Hollywood, SC. He also serves on
the Executive Committee for the Charleston Chapter of the Association of the
United Stated Army.
He has been active in the travel and real estate industry business community
for over 45 years, the last 20 with Carolina One Realty.
Bob was a Director in the South Carolina Low Country Hero Flight program
which provided travel to Washington for over 800 South Carolina Veterans to
visit the new WW II memorial as well as the Iwo Jima, Vietnam, and Korean War
He is also a Volunteer at the Ralph H. Johnson VAMC as well as serving
volunteer at the Ralph H. Johnson VAMC. He is a member of VFW Post 1137 and
American Legion Post.
Kent graduated from Dartmouth College and served in a USN Fighter Squadron as an
F-4 Phantom II Naval Flight Officer. He then began a career in Aerospace, first
in Flight Test and then advancing through management to be president of two
Upon retirement he became active with Fisher House in the Washington DC
region and recently resigned as President of Fisher House at Joint Base Andrews.
Fred started a charity to support Veterans in 2008 while both sons were serving
as infantry officers in Iraq. He raised over $340,000 in cash and over $150,00
in golf equipment for wounded Veterans to use in golf clinics. Having run 9
tournaments in the past, he turned his efforts over to helping Fisher House
Charleston through golf events in the Grand Strand.
Lesesne Phillips is a Charleston native, who was born at the old Navy Hospital
and grew up on Marine Corps bases. In 2011, Lesesne and her
father started a business, Phillips & Pierce, that specialized in the
placement of veterans. Phillips & Pierce partnered with multiple
companies interested in hiring veterans and we served 100s of our nations
veterans in job placement, transition assistance, resume writing
and job search techniques. The business was dissolved in 2015 and Lesesne now
proudly works for DAWSON 8a, a Native Hawaiian
Organization that supports our military and our communities. In the past 10
years Lesesne has served with multiple non-profit organizations
and in 2014 was nominated and named one of Charleston’s Forty Under 40. She
resides in James Island with her beautiful son, William.
COL Ben Mitchell, USA Retired: COL Ben Mitchell is from the island of St. Croix,
US Virgin Islands, and began his military career in 1986 at Ft. Jackson SC and
Officer Candidate School at Ft. Benning GA. He proudly served in the US Army and
Army National Guard for 25 exemplary years. Ben served courageously during
Desert Shield, Global War on Terrorism, Post 911, OIF and OEF campaigns. Ben
held several commands to include the 23rd Civil Support Team Weapons of Mass
Destruction, comprised of 22 specialized soldiers for response to suspected or
known terrorist attacks. He also served at FORSCOM as the director for
dispatching the US Army Ready and Quick Reaction teams.
While at a live
firing range on March 27th, 2012 COL Mitchell suffered a near fatal injury by
friendly fire. After over 20 critical lifesaving surgical procedures, it was
necessary to amputate his lower right leg. Ben and his wife Griselle know
first-hand how Fisher House supports military families in need. Ben continues to
serve and set an example for all wounded veterans. He plays on the USA Patriots
wounded warrior amputee softball team and is multi-talented in martial
Ben currently works as the Strategic Senior Health, Safety,
Security, & Environmental (HSSE) Executive Leader at BP Americas. Ben, Griselle,
and their three children live in Mt Pleasant. The family is great example of
Ben’s personal motto, “NEVER QUIT!”
Chris Ward has served the Department of Defense community for over thirty years. As anInformation Professional in the U. S. Navy, she was responsible for deploying and securingmission ready networks across the Fleet. Since her retirement in 2005, she has worked as aConsultant to help match technology gaps within the Department of Defense with Industrysolutions. She served previously as the Executive Director at Friends of Fisher HouseCharleston and now joins the Board as a member.
Father David Williams received his Bachelors Degree from DeSales University, his Master ofDivinity Degree from the Episcopal Theological School (Cambridge, Mass) and his Doctor ofMinistry Degree from Andover Newton Theological School and post-doctoral studies atGeorgetown University and the Washington School of Psychiatry.
He served as Associate minister from 1972-1976 at St John’s Episcopal Church in WashingtonD.C., (also known as the “Church of the Presidents”) and most recently as Rector of StStephen’s Episcopal Church in Charleston.
In addition to his pastoral duties, Father David has also worked as a pastoral counselor andpsychotherapist in private practice in Washington, D.C. for several years before coming toCharleston to become Rector of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church here in Charleston.
Prior to joining the Friends of Fisher House Charleston, Father David is President of the Boardof Directors at the Charleston Area Senior Center; served on the Board of the Florence Crittenton Programs; and volunteers at Fisher House Charleston, now in his second year.
Trux Emerson has a background in investment and real estate. He became a
stockbroker in Washington, DC in 1972 with Legg Mason then Blythe, Eastman,
Dillon and Sade & Co. and Thompson, McKinnon successively before co-founding
Nye, Parnell & Emerson Capital Management in 1987, a registered investment
advisor and ultimately sold in 1999.
After relocating to Bozeman, MT, Mr. Emerson commenced his career in real
estate largely with Bridger Realty. After nine years in the Rockies, the
Emersons moved to Tryon, NC, where Mr. Emerson co-founded Walker, Wallace &
Emerson Realty in 1998, that specializes in premiere properties including horse
farms in the Foothills of the Carolinas, Landrum, SC and Tryon, NC.
Most importantly, Mr T. Truxton Emerson is a direct descendant of Commodore
Thomas Truxton, one of the first six officers in the US Navy. Commodore Truxton
was the commanding officer of the USS Constellation during the War of 1812. The
most current USS Truxton (DDG 103) was commisioned at Goose Creek, SC on April
"I have no military background, but I did graduate from college in 1973, the era
of Viet Nam and a time of tremendous turmoil in so many aspects of our lives. In
November of 1982, the Viet Nam War Memorial was dedicated at the National
Cathedral in Washington, DC. At the time, my husband and I were living in
Alexandria, VA with our 3 year old and 7 month old daughters. I had taken them
for haircuts and on the way home we passed the National Cathedral where I knew
the names of the Viet Nam War Memorial Wall were being read. It was cold, dark,
rainy, the children were tired and I knew we would be late getting home, but I
felt this compulsion to go into the Cathedral and listen for just a little while
to the reading of the names on that haunting Wall."
"At the time the reading was being done in the War Chapel which is a
relatively small space beneath the nave of the Cathedral. At first, my children
and I were the only ones there, but then I noticed several men in dark suits and
a college classmate of mine that I knew worked in New York for a network news
program. I asked her what she was doing there and she said, "The better question
is, what are you doing here? President and Mrs. Reagan will be here any minute!"
Within a few minutes, President and Mrs. Reagan came in and sat a few rows in
front of us. To be in that lovely chapel at that moment, to listen to those name
being read with my precious children and the President of the United States was
an experience that to this day gives me chills."
"My only regret is that Tyler, now the mother of our two adorable
grandchildren, and Alex were too young to remember or appreciate the
significance of what happened, but I never get tired of telling them how special
that day in November was. Since that time I have never been able to pass a
person in military uniform without trying to thank them for their service.
Harbour House, and now Fisher House, is a way to do that on an ongoing basis and
has given me a purpose in my life for which I am profoundly grateful."