Jan. 19, 2018

Debby Summey

I have been wanting to sit down with Debby Summey for quite some time. Being a bit of a town historian, she makes a fine addition to the Meet Georgetown segment of my blog. We stopped in at Alfresco’s Bistro on Front Street for a quick bite to eat where we talked for a while.

Debby was born in Kingstree Hospital and raised in Georgetown. “At the time I was born, there wasn’t a hospital in Georgetown. You had to go all the way to Kingstree; Williamsburg County, which had the closest medical facility,” she said of her birth 68 years ago.

She does the walking tours in Georgetown and shares a lot of the history with tourist, or even the locals who are interested. I remember meeting her several years ago when she was doing tours and then her name came up again when I wrote about the Kaminski House. Many have suggested Debby as a good subject to write about.

“There’s so much to talk about,” she said with a smile. “I’ve done so much. There’s not enough time to talk about all of the things that I’ve done in my career. I’ll just give you the highlights.”

“Okay,” I conceded, “Give me the highlights.”

“Well, I love history, I love to travel, and I love my job,” she began. “I’ve been an investigator for Department of Social Services and investigated claims of child abuse and elder abuse.

“I was also the first director at the Georgetown County Museum, a director at the Winyah Auditorium, and I once owned two retail shops in Charleston.” As I was jotting notes, she added, “I did investigations in several counties, Georgetown, Richland, Charleston and even in Atlanta, Georgia.”

“Is that it? You don’t look old enough to have done much more,” I stated complimentary so.

With a little laugh, Debby said, “I do love my job. I get paid to walk around a very beautiful city and talk about the history of it. Each tour is about twelve blocks. After that a lot of people get tired out, but I love it. I love meeting new people and I don’t have a problem talking to strangers, either. Hearing about their lives, where they’re from, and other different little facts about them are fascinating to me.”

Debby also mentioned that she was a first mate for a yacht delivery service in Hilton Head. She and my son (who was hungry so he tagged along), talked a little about that job.

Debby used to deliver yachts. “Yeah, someone would call up and say bring my yacht to wherever...like Florida or someplace like that and then I would ride along with the captain and deliver the boat. I didn’t drive the boat because as I said, I was first mate, not captain.”

“Tell me about your shops?” I asked. “What kind of shops were they?”

“Oh, I sold different things, like antiques, collectibles and vintage clothing,” she answered. “I loved the vintage clothes. And, you’d be surprised at how many of the college student would come in from the College of Charleston and buy these old clothes. Too bad there’s not a market around here in Georgetown for vintage clothing.”

Debby and I talked about a lot of things. Since I did geriatric nursing for about twenty years of my nursing career, we could both relate to different stories and situations of elder abuse, Alzheimer’s Disease, as well as, other factsregarding geriatrics.

Getting back to her historical tours, I asked if she did any of the ghost tours and she does not; her tours are primarily history tours, with legendary haunted houses pointed out along the way.

We even talked about faith and how it has helped us through so much in our lives. We agreed that neither of us would be here without it. My sister once told me that a true Christian doesn’t have to announce it or tell people they are Christian.

“You can see it in their hearts,” my older sister once said.

I believe that because I can see it in Debby’s heart. I see it, not because she told me she was a member of the First Baptist Church of Georgetown, but because she has a beautiful glow about her. It fits her well.

Although she’s been many places during her life, her heart belongs to Georgetown and I believe she’s come home to settle down. Debby has a daughter and two grandsons who live here in town so it won’t be a hard thing for her do especially since she thoroughly enjoys doing the historical tours.

If you get a chance, take one of the tours. I know I enjoyed it when I did it several years back. Who knows, maybe you’ll learn something new about our beautiful town of Georgetown.