Brenda Lauderback and Boyd Wright
Let’s start at the beginning. How did you meet?
Brenda: We met in Minneapolis. I was working for Dayton Hudson, which is now Target Corporation, and Boyd had a dental practice in Saint Paul.
Boyd: Brenda’s company was hosting an event. I had a date and she had a date. But her friend who was hosting the party said to Brenda, I just met your husband.
Brenda: We ran into each other a couple of months later, and the next thing you know, we’ve been married forty-two years.
Where are you originally from?
Boyd: I was born and raised in Minneapolis, and Brenda is originally from Pittsburgh. We left Minneapolis in 1993 for Brenda’s career and moved to Cincinnati where she was president of a shoe company. She turned that company around in such a short time that they were acquired by Nine West Group. So we moved to Connecticut in 1995, and I started another dental practice. While we were there, we started to look for a second home. At that time our kids were five and eight. We came to Kiawah and loved it. We bought our house in 1998.
And you stayed in Connecticut?
Boyd: In 2000 Brenda’s company was sold, and we moved back to Minneapolis.
Brenda: Our daughter really wanted to go back to Minneapolis for high school.
Boyd: When our daughter graduated, we didn’t want to retire and we didn’t want to live in Minneapolis. It was too cold! South Carolina wouldn’t allow me to transfer my license, but Texas would!
Brenda: Our son wanted to move to Dallas! It was easier getting to Kiawah because there was a direct flight to Charleston. After Nine West, I was on multiple corporate boards, and I could live anywhere to do that! I am currently chairman of the board of Denny’s and also serve on the boards of Wolverine Worldwide and Sleep Number corporations.
And all the while you had this house on Kiawah?
Brenda: We’ve always had the same house, though we did a major remodel in 2015. It has been our getaway. No matter what state we were in, this was the place the kids wanted to go when it was vacation time.
Tell me about your kids.
Brenda: They’re grown! We have a thirty-seven-year-old daughter and a thirty-two-year-old son. Phallon is in Dallas, and Adam is in Irvine, California.
How did you initially find Kiawah?
Brenda: Some people who I had worked with mentioned we should go see Kiawah. Boyd had family that owned property in Hilton Head, so we knew the area. We really wanted to feel like we were out of the country; we wanted to be on an island. When we first visited, it just resonated so much. And Charleston was a big draw for us. We actually have a house there, too.
What do you like about living here?
Boyd: I like to bike and walk the beach. I wasn’t a golfer when we bought the house, but it’s a spectacular place to learn to play. And our kids have never tired of coming here. It is truly our oasis. We love the way they have maintained the integrity of the Island.
Brenda: I like the total harmony with nature. This island is breathtakingly beautiful. No matter how long you’ve lived here, there are still new places to discover.
Boyd: And the Club just makes everything easy. We can cocoon while we are here. And when we have guests, it’s so easy to entertain.
And now you are very active in the Charleston community, correct?
Brenda: It depends on what I have going on. I’m on the board of the Gibbes Museum, and Boyd and I have been big supporters of the new African American Museum. I also just worked on the Anson Street African Burial Project with the city. When the Gaillard Center was being renovated, they found the remains of thirty-six enslaved people. National Geographic partnered with the Gullah Society to do DNA testing on the remains. With help from several generous donors and corporations, we raised money to build a fitting memorial on the grounds of the Gaillard to represent the countless mass burial sites of enslaved people throughout the city.
Boyd: And I tutored at an elementary school in Charleston and volunteered dental services at Our Lady of Mercy’s clinic on Johns Island. I also want to mention that Brenda just received an award from the White House. But I will let her explain.
Brenda: It is an award for volunteer service. It’s the Presidential Lifetime Achievement Award. You must have documentation of at least four thousand hours of community service. I received it on May 9, 2022, in Charleston. Congressman Clyburn and Mayor Tecklenburg presented the award, and the Mayor declared May 9th as Brenda Lauderback Day in the city of Charleston! It was a big honor.
Incredible. I’m so impressed by what you both give back to the community.
Brenda: We both believe that to whom much is given, much is expected. We try to stay involved in our communities and are committed to making a difference. And I say this all the time, I could never have achieved what I have in my life without the right life partner.