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 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, SC.
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.
Chris Ward, Commander, U.S. Navy (Retired) has served the Department of Defense community for over thirty years. As an Information Professional in the U. S. Navy, she was responsible for deploying and securing mission ready networks across the Fleet. Since her retirement in 2005, she has worked as a Consultant to help match technology gaps within the Department of Defense with Industry solutions. As Executive Director, Chris will deploy her skills to inform and involve the local community in support of the Charleston Fisher House.
The Harpers are a military family. Gil Harper grew up as an Air Force brat; his wife Kris, grew up as a Navy brat; and they raised three Army brats.
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 his masters degrees in mathematics and operation research from Stanford University and was a National Security Fellow at Harvard University. He has taught as an adjunct professor at The Citadel, College of Charleston, 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 Partner, Broadmoor Business Solutions and Outside Director, Streit USA Armoring. He is a member of the Board of Governors, Harbour Club.
The Harpers continue to support military Veterans and families. Gil is 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; and is completing a doctorate, focusing on educating the military child.
Andy has been married to his lovely wife Susan for over 30 years. They have two adult children and 3 grand children who live in Indianapolis, Indiana.
1971 - 1977: Founder and CEO of Custom Trim of Indiana, Inc. He built the largest automotive aftermarket trim business in Indiana, and one of the largest in the US.
1974 - 1976: Founder of Van World, Inc. a van conversion company
1982 - 1984: General Partner in a natural gas company entirely in the state of Ohio
1978 - 2007: McDonald's Restaurant Licensee. Andy owned and operated eight restaurants in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Other Professional Experience
Board Member, Indianapolis Chamber fo Commerce
Board Member, Indiana Chamber of Commerce
Board Member, Indiana Muscular Dystrophy Association
President of INCO, Inc. The Central Indiana McDonald's Restaurant Association
Board Member, Indiana Education Association
Member, Indiana Chamber of Commerce Political Action Committee
Education / Certificates
Associates Degree - Electrical Engineering, DeVry Institute, Chicago, Illinois
100 Ton Merchant Marine Master's License, US Coast Guard
Other Life Experience
1969 - 1971 US Army. Served in Vietnam. Life Member. DAV
2007 - Retired
2007 - 2012 Lived aboard a power boat. Cruised 26,000 miles including US East Coast, Bahamas, Caribbean, Central America, South America, through the Panama Canal, and spent a year in the Pacific Ocean before cruising back to Charleston
My hobby is restoring vintage Corvettes. I play golf (not well), swim, bicycle, and lift weights.
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 companies.
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.
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 monuments.
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.
After graduation from the United States Military Academy, Paul served as an infantry officer and helicopter pilot until 1976 when he began a career in sales with IBM Corporation. For 28 years he held positions in sales, marketing and product management. After retiring from IBM, Paul opened Seaside Park Travel in 2007, donating all profits to client charities. He encouraged them to pick military-oriented charities such as Fisher House and the Wounded Warrior Foundation. Now fully retired, Paul and his wife Paulette (married 47 years) live in Murrells Inlet, SC. and have been active in supporting the Fisher House in Charleston since they learned about it.
Sean is the Beaufort area representative. A Virginia Tech graduate and recently retired USMC Lieutenant Colonel.
He has over 2200 F/A-18 flight hours with combat missions in support of Operations Noble Eagle, Southern Watch, Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.
He is currently VP of Continuing Education and Workforce Development as well as Director of Military Affairs at the Technical College of the Low Country. In addition, he serves on the Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce Governmental Affairs Committee.
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.
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 26,2009.
"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."