Phyllis and Bob Poston: From Snowbirds to Seagulls

By Connie Barnard

Phyllis and Bob Poston: From Snowbirds to Seagulls

We call them Snowbirds; these visitors who arrive each winter from a variety of states, all of them cold this time of year. They come to enjoy the sunshine, mild climate, and affordable lodging rates – often less costly than their monthly fuel bills back home. They enjoy being able to golf or fish almost any day. Perhaps most of all, they enjoy reconnecting with old friends who gather at the same locations year after year, strong ties of friendship forged over time. A number of Snowbirds become active in local churches and volunteer organizations, bringing a greater dimension to both their lives and ours. Over time, some winter Snowbirds even become vibrant full-time residents. Among these is a couple you’d love to meet, Phyllis and Bob Poston.

Like many of us, the Postons’ journey to the Beach began with youthful road trips in the 1960s. “I remember visiting here in the ’70s when ‘Alabama’ was a little local band playing at the Bowery,” Bob recalls. Their story follows a pattern familiar to many. Myrtle Beach sand gets between their toes, drawing them back again and again, extending their visits with each year until they ultimately become permanent residents. Though their path is a familiar one, Phyllis and Bob’s story is a unique and fascinating one of two talented people who’ve enjoyed a rich, full life, now sharing their experience and talents with our community.

A handsome, vivacious couple, Phyllis and Bob look like a walking advertisement for The Good Life. The Virginia natives grew up in Lynchburg where they met at their local Methodist church’s youth group. The couple married when she was 19 and he was 21. Last December 6, they celebrated their 54th wedding anniversary, still clearly in love and deeply dedicated to one another. Both Bob and Phyllis had busy careers with General Electric in Lynchburg. However, it was through a unique combination of avocations that the Postons enjoyed amazing opportunities and international acclaim.

A golfer since his youth, Bob also developed an early talent for photography. He shared these interests with his young wife, and over time the two became both avid golfers and highly skilled photographers. While attending regional golf tournaments, the Postons began taking photographs and soon gained national and international recognition for their distinctive ability to capture memorable moments on the green. For the next 29 years they worked as freelance photographers for the Associated Press, United Press International and the Virginia State Golf Association. Phyllis and Bob covered two Masters and two PGA championships; however, it was a shot at the 1980 Kemper Open in Bethesda, Maryland, that gave Bob international recognition. The heart-rending photo captures the anguish of a young Lee Trevino just after he missed a birdie putt to tie the match. UPI bought the picture which was later placed in its worldwide special 75th Anniversary News Photography Exhibition, capturing 75 significant moments in history. Along with the Poston photo were shots of the Germans signing surrender documents in 1945, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor after their wedding in France in 1937, and the Pulitzer Prize-winning photo of a dying Lou Gehrig saying good-bye to his fans in 1949. Later Phyllis and Bob also spent 14 years covering NASCAR events in Virginia, and North Carolina, as the sport was emerging into the national spotlight. In 1990 they were part of a group of 40 who formed the National Golf Reporters Association, now the International Network of Golf, with 1400 members from all over the world.

During these busy, exciting years, the Postons often vacationed on the Grand Strand and grew to love all it has to offer. In the spring of 1970 they came down on their first golf holiday and enjoyed it so much that they returned each Thanksgiving for the next 12 years. The couple also came for short trips whenever their work schedules allowed, prior to Bob’s retirement from GE in 1997. The next winter they officially became Snowbirds, checking into the Cadillac Court for an intended six week stay which grew into two months. “We loved it so much – we really just did not want to leave,” Phyllis says. Like many other local hoteliers, the motel’s owners, Rhonda and Mack Pendleton, provided a large party room overlooking the ocean where their winter guests could gather in the late afternoon. Fun and fellowship developed into deep friendships among the guests and with the Pendletons. Bob smiles as he explains that their only complaint was the need for one of the larger, more spacious units: “The place was so popular that we literally had to wait for someone to die first.”

Over the next five years, Phyllis and Bob returned to Myrtle Beach and the Cadillac Court, staying a bit longer with each visit until eventually, they were here for six months each winter. Though the motel no longer exists, the friendships from the Cadillac Court still do. Phyllis and Bob continue to enjoy dinner and other outings with former lodgers and have stayed in close touch with the Pendletons as well. In 2002 they purchased a condo in Cobblestone, extending their stays here for up to eight months each year. Finally, they made the decision to give up their deep Virginia roots and become full-time residents of Myrtle Beach. After sifting through the contents of 42 years in their Lynchburg family home, the Postons moved into their spacious new nest overlooking the Myrtlewood Golf Course in 2005. “We still go back to Virginia to see family members and to check on property we own there” Phyllis says, adding with a chuckle: “It’s a large storage unit packed with all the things we couldn’t give up but don’t have room for here!”

Clearly, the couple savors the freedom of their rich, full life here. They play golf several days a week and enjoy getting together with the many friends they’ve made, including a local group of GE retirees. Yet these are just two dimensions of their multi-faceted lives. Since their first winter at the Cadillac Court, the Postons have also been involved as volunteers in the Myrtle Beach community. For six winters, they spent hours each week assisting with the Grand Strand Senior Center’s golf group. Tony Perry, who continues to run the program with his wife Ann, said of them: “Phyllis and Bob’s work here was priceless to both the center and to the Snowbird community.” During this time they also began participating in the Grand Strand Medical Center’s H2U health program for senior adults and worked for The Golf Channel during the four weeks in which the Canadian PGA played at Barefoot Resort. They’ve also volunteered each year for the World Am Handicap Championship and for Hootie and the Blowfish’s “Monday after the Masters.”

The Postons’ most significant volunteer commitment, however, has been through the First United Methodist Church of Myrtle Beach. Dabney Joyner, the church’s director of volunteers, says, “Phyllis and Bob joined our church in 2005 and are the most active folks I know. They always have a smile and a willing heart. Bob has become the official photographer for every event at the church, a full-time job in itself, but they do so much more as well.” Phyllis and Bob’s greatest efforts involve chairmanship of the golf program associated with its “Snowbirds and Seagulls” Adult Senior Ministry which also sponsors weekly luncheons, special outings, and small group programs for winter guests. The church’s revered former senior minister, Rev. “Big Tom” Brittain, initiated the “Seagulls and Snowbirds” golf program in 1983 to help winter guests get to know one another and share their mutual love of the game. Open to any seasonal visitors regardless of religious affiliation, the program provides over 100 weekly participants the opportunity to play in captain’s choice tournaments at premiere area courses each Tuesday morning in January and February.

In 2007, Rev. Brittain found it necessary to give up his work with the highly successful program. He knew that without strong, energetic leadership, the program might flounder and called upon the Postons to take over in his place. Bob jokes, “We are now starting the fifth year of our one year commitment.” Phyllis and Bob schedule matches, register participants and pair up each foursome. They also must contend with complicating factors that crop up, such as no-shows, cancellations and weather calls. For two months each year, it is tantamount to a full-time job that draws on all the Postons’ experience and energy, but they truly love it and do it well. Friend and fellow-golfer, Myrtle Beach resident Harry Gardner says, “Phyllis and Bob are a very caring couple who are dedicated to making sure every participant has a great time. It is amazing how they pull the whole thing off each week. To know them is to love them.”

Phyllis and Bob Poston’s story is just one of many among the winter visitors who each year make a significant imprint on both the economy and the fabric of life along the Grand Strand. They are ideal guests who help to make our area a year round destination, and fortunately, a growing number of Snowbirds ultimately become Seagulls, contributing their time and talents full-time and year round.

About this writer

  • Connie BarnardConnie Barnard traveled the world as a military wife and taught high school and college composition for over 30 years. She has been a regular contributor to Sasee since its first issue in 2002.

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4 Responses to “Phyllis and Bob Poston: From Snowbirds to Seagulls”

  1. Kevin Poston says:

    Great article Uncle Bob!

  2. Gerry & Louise Sharp says:

    great couple, proud to know them (friends of Linda & Dale)

  3. Betty Williams says:

    Good work! I”m proud to be your cousin.

  4. Shannon Farrar Dechert says:

    Great article about two awesome people! We love you, Bobby and Phyllis!

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