By Brian Sherman for The Island Eye News
Sitting on the Sullivan’s Island side of Breach Inlet, Thomson Park stands as a reminder of a battle that helped turn the tide of history.
Though they might not have known about the significance of the early Revolutionary War skirmish, Frank and Dorothy Blackett were well aware of the calming effect of watching a blazing sun set into or rise from a tranquil ocean. In fact, though they never lived in Sullivan’s, they spent much of their retirement on the island – on the beach, at Fort Moultrie and simply enjoying its innate beauty and the company of its hospitable residents.
Dorothy passed away in 2007, and Frank joined her in 2019. Their children, knowing how much Sullivan’s Island meant to them, chose to purchase a bench in their honor at Thomson Park, an enclave overlooking Breach Inlet, the watery boundary between Sullivan’s and the Isle of Palms.
“Being near the ocean meant so much to them, especially watching the sun rise and set from Sullivan’s Island,” said their daughter, Linda Dearman, who lives in Statesville, North Carolina.
She said her parents went to Fort Moultrie just about every day, and, toward the end of her life, her mom made the trip in a wheelchair.
“They had been given so much. This was a gift they could give back,” she said. “We donated the bench so other people who are older or who have disabilities will be able to enjoy the beauty of the ocean just like they did.”
“They just loved in here,” she added. “They said was Shangri-La. It just spoke to their souls.”
The Blacketts, originally from England, lived on the Isle of Palms and then in Mount Pleasant after moving to the Lowcountry.
Frank, an avid runner, was president of the Charleston Running Club for a while. Though they never had a home on Sullivan’s, they both knew lots of people who called the island home.
Dearman said her siblings thought about putting the bench at Fort Moultrie. That didn’t work out, but, after meeting with local historian Doug MacIntyre, they decided that Thomson Park would be the perfect alternative. Like the four benches that were there already, the fifth and final bench was manufactured by J & M Foundry of Summerville. It was installed by Wayne Stelljes, the park’s volunteer caretaker on Feb. 5. MacIntyre pointed out that the town of Sullivan’s Island relocated a historical marker to make room for the new bench.
Thomson Park is named for Col. William “Danger” Thomson, who commanded the American forces that repelled a British attack at Breach Inlet during the Battle of Sullivan’s Island. MacIntyre did the historical research and raised the money to build the park, which was completed in 2012.