May 2007

Finding a Home - In More Ways Than One

Author: Paul deVere

If you are at all curious about a home mortgage or anything to do with a home mortgage, a visit to Pinnacle Mortgage’s website, www.pinnaclelender.com, will probably answer your questions. The site offers more calculators than a high school math teacher. You can be just a click away from knowing what mortgage you can afford or how much money you can save by buying points. If the site doesn’t satisfy your curiosity and you would like to talk to a real, live person, call Frank Deturris, Jr., Pinnacle’s vice president. He’ll have the answers.

“We are not a top-heavy management company. We’re a mortgage bank and fund loans ourselves,” Deturris said. Decisions are made by Deturris, who heads the Bluffton operation and a partner in the Savannah office.

According to Deturris, Pinnacle was founded 15 years ago in New Jersey as a small broker banker shop. “I left a traditional banking job and opened this office three years ago January. I thought it was time to test my entrepreneurial skills.,” he said. “There’s a new challenge every day, and I love what I do.”

Deturris and wife, Cynthia, moved to the Lowcountry in 1997. He had been in the banking business in upstate New York and Cynthia was looking at the College of Charleston to finish her degree. Because Deturris had vacationed on Hilton Head Island as a teenager and because it was so close to Charleston, the young couple decided to spend a couple of days on the island.

It was a busy two days. “Cynthia discovered USCB South Campus and learned all her credits would transfer. I walked into a bank across the street and told them I was a loan officer. They ask me when I could start,” Deturris said. “We’ve been here ever since. We knew we were home.”

That statement took on new meaning for Deturris just four years later.

“I was a member of the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Class of 2001. It was the first year they were trying to incorporate the two chambers and bring the two communities together. We were on a class trip to Beaufort right after September 11. We were all kind of in shock, but on that trip we had to come up with a class project. We just didn’t know what to do or think. Finally, I suggested putting up a flag pole in Bluffton to memorialize [the victims of] the tragedy,” Deturris said.

While the idea was praised, even the Chamber doubted it could be done. But it was. An American flag, lighted at night, flies 24-hours-a-day at the entrance to the baseball fields in the Oscar J. Frazier Park.

“We contacted a lot of local businesses to help us and raised about $23,000. The Town of Bluffton gave us the land. Mayor Hank Johnston was very proud of the project and wanted to see it here. We sold 220 bricks, one for each story of the World Trade Center, and configured them in a pentagon. We tried to incorporate the three major attacks into the project,” said Deturris.

Malphrus Construction donated the grading and electrical lines. Wood and Partners donated the design. The 23 members of the class got together every two weeks to work on the memorial, along with a number of volunteer construction workers. Deturris estimated that with the financial donations and work contributions, the project could be valued at $80,000.

“The proudest thing I’ve every done in my life was this project. I couldn’t have done it without all the members of my leadership class,” Deturris said. “It not only represents the coming together of Bluffton and Hilton Head, it’s a great way for people never to forget September 11.”

It was also a great way to commemorate his new home town.

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