A Fulfilling Life
By Debbie Lagestee • Photos by Valerie & Ed Photography
Some people are rule followers, and others live by the motto “Rules are made to be broken.” Lori Wakefield created a list of 8 dating rules for herself, all of which she abided by. That is until she met Jim. There was something extra special about him, but rule number one was ‘No dating anyone at work’. Lori broke the first rule and the other seven rules soon after. She and Jim were married in October 1994 in Maryland, 27 years and counting.
Lori was born and raised in Rockville, Maryland. She lived within a 6-mile radius her entire life until she and Jim moved to Charleston in July 2020. Lori has a BS in Information Systems Management from the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) and a Master’s coursework in Financial Management from Johns Hopkins University. Lori worked at NCR as a Systems Engineer programming Point of Sale Terminals for the Navy Exchanges nationwide, including the Charleston Navy Base when it existed. She also worked at AT&T in Commercial Long Distance sales. For the past 7 years, she has been a realtor in Maryland and is currently involved in real estate referrals nationwide.
Jim served in the US Navy. His first duty station was in Charleston, beginning his love affair with the city, which became a driving force in their relocation years later. Jim earned a BS in Business and worked at Teradata for 35 years before becoming an independent Data Analytics Consultant.
Jim and Lori have two daughters. Lauren is 26 years old and holds a Master’s in Health Administration, working as a Pediatric Research Coordinator at MUSC. She is a member of the Charleston County Volunteer Rescue Squad. She fostered 14 dogs during the pandemic, ultimately adopting a 2-year-old Red Tick Coonhound named Lexie. Madison is 22 years old and a recent graduate of Clemson University. Her degree is in Performing Arts concentrating in Lighting Design for Theater with a minor in Non-Profit Leadership. She is pursuing her MBA at Clemson and also works part-time as the Development Coordinator at the Brooks Center for Performing Arts at Clemson. Madison has a cat named Kipo. They give back to the community by donating blood regularly to The Blood Connection as a family and working within the community as volunteers. Jim also has a son and daughter from his first marriage, both of whom are married with children of their own, making Lori and Jim a proud ‘Mimi’ and ‘Papa’ of 5.
Jim and Lori became part-time residents of Carolina Bay in 2014 when they bought a home in Essex. They split their time between Charleston and Maryland for 7 years before Jim convinced Lori it was time to make a permanent move to the city he loved so much. While working remotely and being ready for a change, no barriers were standing in their way. They moved south and continued to live in Essex until they moved to Oakhurst in April 2021. They love the community and boast, “We have amazing neighbors.”
Sunday nights are reserved for a family dinner for whoever is available to attend. Lori is an avid runner and likes to play Mah Jong with a group of ladies in the neighborhood. She hopes to join or start Canasta and Bunco groups as well. Jim enjoys boating, electronics, and working on projects around the house. Lori says, “He always has a project going, and he can fix almost anything.” Jim adds, “I like to tinker.” He turned a no longer needed snowblower into a tug for maneuvering his boat into the garage. Together they will be volunteering at the Lowcountry Marine Mammal Network in Kiawah this spring.
In the summer of 2021, Jim learned of a casting call for background extras for Season 2 of the HBO series The Righteous Gemstones, which is filmed in and around Charleston and stars John Goodman, Danny McBride, and others. He suggested that Lori sign up, and with her outgoing personality, he knew she would be a perfect fit. She took his advice, received a callback, and encouraged Jim to sign up as well. Being more reserved by nature and slightly hesitant, he relented and signed up and also received a callback. Over the summer, they spent a combined total of over three weeks on set in the Charleston area, sometimes working 12 hours per day. They played the roles of guests at a baptism, patrons at a restaurant, and Jim had the opportunity to be a fake TV producer, a security guard, and he also drove a car in a high-speed chase scene. It was more fun than they imagined it would be, and they hope to do it again in the future.
Lori became a published author in December 2021. Her book, Dream About, is a sweet children’s book based on Lori’s childhood when she would ask her mother what to dream about to ensure she would have sweet dreams. Her writing began as a therapeutic way to honor the memories of her mother, who passed in 2006. Five percent of all profits from its sales are donated to the Lowcountry Food Bank. She now has 7 other book ideas in the works.
Before the COVID restrictions, Jim and Lori traveled quite extensively. They sought out gorgeous beaches off the beaten path and found Exuma to be their favorite. Family trips include Aruba, Cayman Islands, Turks and Caicos, and a European cruise to Italy, France, and Spain. For Jim’s milestone birthday, they took all their kids and grandkids, 13 of them in total, on a cruise from Charleston. When travel returns to normal, they will pack their bags and pick up the pace again. Until then, they will spend their time staycationing in Charleston, exploring by boat, hitting the local beaches, discovering new restaurants and breweries, and attending local events. They doubt they will run out of things to do with an abundance of beauty and good food in Charleston! So, whether they are following or breaking the rules, one thing is for sure, they have a fulfilling life together!