Bald Head Island Conservancy

Written in the Sand – 40 Years of Stories: The Story of David Berne

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The Generator Society

This month’s story written in the sand takes us back to the beginning, when the Generator Society first made the faithful journey across the river to start their lives on Bald Head Island in the 1970s. Among the nineteen brave families were the Bernes. David, their son, is a first-generation Islander, long-time Conservancy supporter and owner of our sponsor, Atlantic Realty Professionals. When we chatted with Berne, he recounted memories from Bald Head Island’s earliest days – of lighthouse owls, bountiful fish, and, of course, generators.

Hi, David! Can you tell us a bit about what first brought you to Bald Head Island?

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The Bernes’ home, Skylark, illustrated by Marina Baskakova

My parents (Bill and Billie Jean Berne) and my Godparents (Thad and Lee Wester) built the first two homes on Bald Head in 1973. I believe that they both helped to start the Conservancy.

I remember, as a kid, that my dad said that he would teach us (his three boys) about conservation and preservation of the island. In turn, we would teach our children, and they would teach their children. Because of this, my company (Atlantic Realty Professionals) has been one of the biggest supporters of the Conservancy for the past 25 years.

What are some of your favorites memories from your time on the island?

Most of my fondest memories about Bald Head are from the time on the island as a kid.

  • Surf fishing in the late 70s when large Bluefish and Red drum were abundant. I have a 19 pound Bluefish caught at the Point mounted on my wall in my home office.
  • Climbing the lighthouse and seeing baby owls nesting under the stairs on one of the landings. The mother sat in a large oak tree on North Bald Head Wynd.
  • Watching a thunder storm from the bar in the old inn on South Bald Head Wynd as waves crashed against the building.
  • Feeding racoons on our back deck. The females always ate with their hands. The males were much more messy.
  • And other wildlife – sea turtles, alligators, snakes, opossum, etc.

My worst memory from the island was having to prime the pump on the generator by hand in the heat while being eaten by mosquitoes. There was no electricity at that time.

I have hundreds of stories I could tell.

How have you seen the island and the Conservancy grow throughout the years?

I have seen the Conservancy grow from a very small organization to what it is today. The best thing that the Conservancy does, in my opinion, is educating children. Bringing school kids from Brunswick County to the island to learn about the environment and conservation is the essence that embodies everything that the Conservancy should stand for. A majority of these kids would never have this opportunity without this program.

You can join us in celebrating our 40th Anniversary and the future of the Bald Head Island Conservancy with a gift to our Annual Fund:


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