The City Magazine Since 1975

Listen to your Mama!

Listen to your Mama!
May 2013
They nurture and try to guide us from the moment we’re born—whether or not we heed their advice is another story.... In honor of Mother’s Day, some notable locals share the best bits of wisdom their moms have imparted and explain how they’ve helped shape their lives

News 2 anchor Carolyn Murray (center) with her daughter, Reese, and mother, Helen

Carolyn Murray Mom, wife, daughter, runner, yogi, and TV news anchor on her mother, Helen Geraldine Lee Townsend Murray

Mom’s Best Advice: “I could pick any day of my 47 years and reflect on a piece of her advice that either moved me to tears, made me jump up and down, or raised chill bumps on my arms. But one thing that has become part of the fiber of my being is ‘greatness is determined by service.’ She reminds me that living a ‘great’ life is using your God-given talent. ‘Greatness’ for me means telling the stories of the world. Some are big, some small, but when a person gleans something from my work, that’s when I feel as if I have done something valuable. ‘You have to do it, Dolly,’  Mom says,  ‘because you have the ability.’

Reese Terry Daughter, granddaughter, musician, and Ashley Hall fifth-grader on her mom

Mom’s Best Advice: “It’s written on a magnet on our refrigerator: ‘Take the road less traveled.’ She says I should take as many chances as I can, because I don’t know what skills I will need when I am an adult. My mother constantly encourages me to practice my music (piano and cello). She tells me that being able to teach music or play for events will help me earn my own money in college.”

Jo Bacon with her son, chef Jeremiah Bacon of The Macintosh and Oak Steakhouse, in the dining room at Oak

Jeremiah Bacon Chef, son, husband, business owner, and outdoorsman on his mom, Jo Bacon

Mom’s Best Advice: “‘You should do something that you enjoy in life.’ That was a big part of me pursuing cooking not only as my career, but as my vocation. Mom is a great cook, as is her mother, Mary Price. When we would go to her house on James Island, my grandmother would have all kinds of homemade preserves or ice cream, that kind of thing. But Mom took her cooking to the next level. She studied her Julia Child cookbooks and took cooking classes from chef Robert Dickson in the 1970s. I remember being hungry all the time as a teenager, and I asked her to teach me how to cook. We lived on Kiawah Island then, and when I would return home from shrimping or crabbing, she would show me how to prepare what I caught. Her crab quiche was my first specialty. I really enjoyed being with her in the kitchen. After I graduated from College of Charleston, I always seemed to come back to cooking; I just love doing it. We still cook together a few times a year, potlucks with family on holidays, or I’ll make her dinner for her birthday in May. She’s a big fan of the gnudi at The Macintosh.”

Sisters Jennet and Alix at the Dock Street Theatre by a portrait of their mother—playwright, actress, and novelist Patricia Colbert Robinson—painted by William Halsey in 1978

Jennet Robinson Alterman & Alix Robinson Tew on their mother, the late actress, playwright, and novelist Patricia Colbert Robinson

Alix Tew, mother, sister, wife, and director of development for Ronald McDonald House Charities of Charleston, Inc.
Mom’s Best Advice: “‘Always enter a room with confidence, a sense of humor, and above all, kindness. And stand up straight, no slouching!’ (Think Audrey Hepburn.) Mom was wise, witty, spiritual, and nonjudgmental. She had a way of making us feel good about ourselves and the world and encouraged us to think as individuals. Every day of my life, I try to remember this and hope I have passed it on to my children.”

Jennet Alterman, wife, sister, aunt, friends, mentor, and executive director of the Center for Women
Mom’s Best Advice: “Pat Robinson’s Free Advice on Men (abridged): ‘Mr. Right has a spiritual life and a sense of humor; is a good listener, compassionate, well-read and mannered, motivated, neither a knee-jerk liberal or brain-washed Republican; is not afraid to use the word ‘love’; does not believe in situational ethics; does believe in the perfectibility of man. Mr. Wrong is always half in and half out of the door, habitually cancels dates or shows up late, is a workaholic or feels that the job is beneath him, always has the answer, only relates to his own age group, has a literal mind with little imagination, has a high IQ, wolfs down all of the hors d’oeuvres, was spoiled by his mother, having investigated no religions is scornful of all, is an opportunist with women, wears Fruit of the Loom underwear.’ Thankfully, as a result of her advice on men, I didn’t ‘settle’ and instead waited for ‘Mr. Right’ and then found him. Mom also had a way of giving feedback without taking you out at the knees. Her mantra was affirmation.”


Steve Hamby Son, father, grandfather, golfer, and director of production for Hamby Catering & Events on his mom, legendary local caterer Frances Hamby

Mom’s Best Advice: “‘In preparing recipes, always use Mother Nature’s finest and don’t rush the process.’ Mom has always led by example. Her passion for providing delicious, fresh foods for her family and friends started as a hobby and proved to be a livelihood and a legacy. Because of Mom’s nurturing nature, her Southern graciousness, and knack for developing close relationships, Hamby has had the privilege of being part of our clients’ lives and most memorable events—weddings, birthdays, christenings, you name it—for more than three decades. It’s rare that families have the opportunity to work and play together, and it’s been an honor to work alongside Mom. She is now in her mid-80s and amazes the entire Hamby team with her drive to work, making her ever-famous chicken-salad and shrimp-salad sandwiches!”

Tammy McCotty-Brown (left) with her Aunt Cinny (top), mother Catherine (right), and daughter Catherine

Tammy McCottry-Brown Host and producer of FOX 24’s Tammy on her mom, Catherine M. McCottry, and her “second mother,” Cynthia McCottry-Smith

Mom’s Best Advice:  “‘Make sure you set a course before you sail.’ I was adopted at birth. My mother, who was the first female African-American OB-GYN in Charleston, believed that you had to have a good education to be successful in life and you must work hard to achieve your goals. My Aunt Cinny, my father’s sister whom I call my “second mother,” is a retired educator. She helped to raise me. She taught me to remember that life has its ups and downs. She said, ‘When you find yourself at the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on! God is always there when you need him and put all your trust in Him.’”

Catherine Victoria Rose McCottry Senior at James Island Charter High School on her mom

Mom’s Best Advice:  “‘Believe in yourself, trust God, love your life, and work hard for a good education.’ I recently tried out for an acting and modeling job and was afraid I wouldn’t make the cut. But I kept hearing my mama say, ‘You can do it! Pray to God and love the person inside of YOU!’
I got the job!”