Chris & Kelley Barnett divider Birthplace | Darien, CT & Pasadena, CA
Image of Chris & Kelley Barnett

Q Where are you both from?

A K: I am from Pasadena, California. I went to Boston College and then moved to New York City after I graduated. Chris and I met at work. Chris works for Cramer Rosenthal McGlynn, an asset management company in the City, and I worked there for a couple years. C: I’m from Darien, Connecticut. I went to college at the University of Richmond. We had our daughter, Abby, in the City. When we were pregnant with our second child, we decided to move to Darien—eleven years ago now.

Q How did you discover Kiawah?

A C: I’ve been going down to Kiawah since I was nine, so back in 1980 or ’81. As a kid, there was just a ton to do. It was very untouched—you could drive jeeps on the beach. They’ve done a good job at preserving it over the years. I lived on Kiawah with five fraternity brothers through two summers during college.

Q What was that like?

A C: I was a bartender at the Sundancer, the tiki bar on top of the old Kiawah Island Inn. It was a pretty good gig.

Q Kelley, what were your first impressions of Kiawah?

A K: I loved it. We went down a lot when we were dating. I just loved being able to ride bikes on the beach, and all the different outdoor activities. I thought it was so unique, being from California, just the general feel, you know. It’s much more laid back than the Northeast.

Q So you fell in love with it.

A K: We actually got engaged at The Beach Club. Amy Everett [Clubhouse Manager] was down there those summers that Chris was in college, and they worked together. So we’ve known Amy forever. She helped Chris with the proposal. She was fabulous!

Q No way! How did it all happen?

A C: I put the ring in an oyster. K: But they put the shell back over the oyster, so I couldn’t see the ring. A half a dozen oysters came out, and it was in one of them.

Q So you just had to wait for the right oyster?

A C: Exactly. It was like Russian roulette. It’s all a bit of a blur. K: The whole entire Beach Club was watching. Everybody clapped! All the women then rushed in to see the ring. (laughs)

Q What year was that?

A K: That was in 2000, because we got married in 2002. Then we started going down a lot in the summer and renting houses with our kids for several weeks at a time. And that’s when we decided to buy a house. And we found one right next door to The Beach Club, which is perfect for the kids. C: Thomas is seven, Porter is ten, and Abby is eleven.

Q How often do you come down?

A K: Our kids play tons and tons of sports, so unfortunately this fall we weren’t here much, but we’ll be down for Easter. I’ll come down with groups of girls, or Chris will come down for a guys golf trip—probably ten or fifteen times throughout the spring. A lot! We always go for Memorial Day weekend with the kids.

Q What are your top favorite things to do?

A K: Golf. Our ten-year-old, especially, is absolutely obsessed with golf. C: Now that the kids are getting a little older we’ll get more focused on it. K: Kayaking with the dolphins...the kids love doing that. C: I will say that the food down there is lights out. We love going to Cassique. We spend a ton of time at the Beach Club, right honey? We’re beach people.

Q What’s the community like?

A K: Our kids now pretty much know all of the kids that do Go Kiawah, and the counselors know all of our kids super well. We also know a couple of families from Darien who have houses down there too. So that’s fun. C: And we bring guests and other couples down a lot. Kelley’s family comes from Pasadena every year with all the cousins.

Q What about future generations?

A C: We wanted a place where our kids would come every summer and that we would keep in the family. K: And our kids absolutely love it here!

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