Top Singles

Top SinglesIf anyone has said that the Emerald Coast’s denizens lack sophistication, we’re here to prove them wrong.

By Wendy O. Dixon | Photos by Scott Holstein at Grand Boulevard at Sandestin

You’ve seen them in their businesses or professions, at charity events, on the beach and in hot spots around town. Or maybe you haven’t, in which case this is the perfect time to introduce them to you. These folks make our list of top singles because they are Emerald Coast originals — who just happen to be single. Meet the 10 top singles of the Emerald Coast.


Frank Watson, 26
Real Estate Agent, Keller Williams Emerald Coast

Frank Watson shines with optimism and happiness, which is why he is well suited for the Emerald Coast lifestyle. He says he fell in love with the area when he moved to Santa Rosa Beach in 2006.

“The people are so nice here, and the climate suits me,” Watson says. “I’m fortunate to have the flexibility to be able to spend time diving, golfing and volunteering at church.”

Watson has noticed the area’s people coming together to help each other since the economy took a dive, and he wants to be a part of the solution.

“We have more fundraisers, and people are giving more of their time now,” he says. “I want to be influential in that way.”

Influential he is. Watson frequently volunteers at Immanuel Anglican Church in Destin, chaperoning the youth on movie nights and ski trips to West Virginia.

What do you find attractive in a mate?
A good family background is important. Everyone has their positive attributes, and all the girls I’ve dated are so different. But I like spending time with someone who is social like me, someone who can go out to listen to a band and also go to church with me.

What is a relationship deal-breaker?
Being unfaithful.

What would a perfect day be like?
It would certainly involve being outdoors. I would spend it being surrounded by as many people as possible — family and friends at the beach with a glass of wine, watching the sunset.

What is your favorite thing to eat?
Definitely Mexican food, for as long as I can remember.

What is your biggest pet peeve?
Telling someone you’re going to be somewhere and not showing up. It’s a respect thing. But it’s one of those small things. And the small things only hurt for about 20 seconds. It’s not worth getting worked up about.

Favorite movie?
“We Are Marshall,” with Matthew McConaughey. It’s very inspirational.

What is on your nightstand?
Family photos and a daily devotional book called “A Good Day.”

Lesan GougeLesan Gouge, 23
Golf Tournament Coordinator, Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort

“She’s a Texan by birth, but a Floridian by choice,” say her Uncle Bryan and Aunt Yasmin House in Lesan Gouge’s nomination letter. “She’s got a huge heart and a sparkling personality.”

And apparently a love of sports, especially golf.

“I played all the other sports, too — soccer, basketball, T-ball, softball, volleyball and track,” she says. “I did get hurt a lot. So I decided that golf would be the best, because no one tries to kick you or take the ball away from you or knock you down in mid-swing.”

Gouge’s interest in golf began at the age of 2, when she started playing in the yard with her dad using plastic golf clubs.

“My grandfather made me my first set of clubs when I was 4, with a bright turquoise putter,” she says.

She trained with a golf professional, started playing nine-hole tournaments and eventually made the varsity team as a freshman in high school, representing the United States at a tournament in Ireland.

Gouge practiced her swing with a full-ride golf scholarship at the University of Texas at San Antonio. After graduating in the spring of 2008, she moved to Santa Rosa Beach and now works as golf tournament coordinator for Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort.

What do you find attractive in a mate?
Someone who doesn’t take himself too seriously. Someone who is outgoing, up for anything, hardworking, athletic and definitely romantic.

What is a relationship deal-breaker?
Anyone who lies, cheats, is lazy or chews with his mouth open.

What would a perfect day be like?
Skiing in the mountains in the morning, lying on the beach in the afternoon and watching the Longhorns win the National Championship that evening.

What is your favorite thing to eat?
Macaroni and cheese, Bang Bang Shrimp from Bonefish and my dad’s barbecue … he’s the best griller east of the Mississippi.

Do you have a recurring dream?
Yes, being the first female to win the Masters.

Do you have pets?
One cat named Dixie who likes to belly-flop into the bathtub.

Favorite book?
“Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” by Dr. Seuss … or “War and Peace.” It’s a toss-up.

Sarah K. SchreiferSarah K. Schreifer, 31
Chef and Owner, Sarah K’s Gourmet

Notre Dame alumna Sarah K. Schreifer left an unsatisfying career in banking to follow her dream. But at the time, she still hadn’t figured out what that dream was.

“I knew I liked creating things and helping people entertain,” she says. “So I decided I wanted to own my own small restaurant and catering service.”

Schreifer says she gets great joy from being a part of her clients’ experiences. Whether it’s a birthday party for a child or a funeral for a loved one, Schreifer likes being a part of making the event more special.

Jill Schreifer, one of the many who nominated Sarah, says of her sister, “Sarah is a vivacious entrepreneur — successfully running a small business while donating time to give back to the Emerald Coast community she loves. She is funny, warm, generous and a huge Notre Dame fan — even in hard times.”

What’s your favorite thing to eat?
Someone else’s cooking (she exclaims with a laugh). It’s so nice to go to my mom’s for Christmas and enjoy a nice meal I don’t have to cook.

How would you spend a perfect day?
No meetings, no schedules and no commitments. Brilliant sunshine, blue skies, a glass of Veuve Clicquot (Champagne). And I would have nary a concern — enjoying a wonderful day in Destin on the water.

Favorite TV show?
Notre Dame football.

Favorite movie?
I had a fabulous job in San Diego working for the movie studios and I attended all of the premieres and sneak previews of new movies, so it’s really difficult to choose. If I had to narrow it down, I’d say “Garden State” — it was an intimate setting, and Zach Braff discussed the intricacies of the plot afterward.

Favorite book?
“The Survivors Club,” by Ben Sherwood. A few days ago it was my aunt’s old cookbook.

What is on your nightstand?
Alarm clock, cell phone, glass of water, a vase of stargazer lilies, a notebook, pen and some ABC chewing gum from yesterday. Gross, I know.

Shannon ButlerShannon Butler, 37
Physical Therapist, Sacred Heart Hospital on the Emerald Coast

You can still get a glimpse of the high school cheerleader in her. With her munificent smile and bright eyes, Shannon Butler lights up a room.

She lost part of her thumb in a water skiing accident right before high school graduation, which was a huge liability when training to be a cheerleader at the college level. Still, she made the squad as a freshman at Florida State University and was later invited to join the national competing team at the University of South Alabama, where her team won No. 2 in the national cheerleading championships.

After earning her physical therapy degree from the University of South Alabama, Butler became one of the founding staff members of Sacred Heart Hospital on the Emerald Coast. Her mother, Bette Butler, who nominated her, says everyone who is near Shannon benefits from her benevolence.

“Her empathy and encouragement transform hopelessness in others to the expectation of recovery and restoration,” Bette Butler says. “Doctors, patients, fellow employees ask how she brings such joy into the environment always wearing her huge smile. The answer? She has a gift of mercy for others.”

What do you do in your downtime?
I love swimming in the pool or hanging out at the beach with my daughter, Renee. We’re outdoor girls.

How would you spend a perfect day?
I’m all about football, so the perfect day would be in October, where I’d take a walk on the beach and have a picnic lunch, then go home and fix a football spread of food for an FSU game.

What is your favorite thing to eat?
I love a good steak.

Do you have a recurring dream?
I often dream that I’m on vacation in Key West, wearing a tank top, hanging out with friends in a laid-back atmosphere. One day I’m going there.

What is your biggest pet peeve?
People who can’t express what they want.

Favorite movie?
“The Mirror Has Two Faces,” with Barbra Streisand and Jeff Bridges.

What is on your nightstand?
A photo of Renee, with the biggest smile, at 5 months old.

Dennis LichorwicDennis Lichorwic, D.M.D., 38
Cosmetic Dentist/Owner, Destin Center for Cosmetic Dentistry

Dennis Lichorwic gives his patients something to smile about at his luxurious practice in Destin. A lover of the Emerald Coast, Lichorwic spends most of his free time enjoying the outdoors with his sons, Zachary and Jackson.

Though he likes the soothing sounds of the crashing waves near his home on Crystal Beach, Lichorwic is a high-energy kind of guy who is always up for an adventure.

“Not as in climbing mountains and jumping out of airplanes … both of which I would like to do,” he says. “But adventure is what happens while you are doing stuff. You could find yourself on quite an adventure just walking around in places like New York City, New Orleans or Boston. I took an all-day wine tour in Tuscany. That was an adventure. I want to go to Hawaii and take the course where they teach you to navigate by using only the stars.”

He’s equally adventurous in the kitchen.

“I like to cook all kinds of food. Italian, Asian and Creole are my current favorites, but I will try anything,” he says. “And I’m thinking of writing my own cookbook and Web site called ‘I’m Not a Chef … and Neither are You.’ But I don’t cook anything that takes more than about 30 minutes to prepare.”

What do you find attractive in a mate?
Honesty, a positive mental attitude, confidence, focus and determination.

What is a relationship deal-breaker?
Unhealthy habits. If my boys don’t like you … kids are a great judge of character.

What would a perfect day be like?
Perfect weather, sunset on the beach with a great bottle of wine.

Do you have a recurring dream?
Yes, two of them — that I am in a rock band and that I can fly. But neither dream works out as planned.

Favorite movie?
“Casino Royale.”

Favorite book?
“Angels and Demons.”

What is on your nightstand?
A phone, my Bible, pictures of my children, five books — “John Adams,” “Tuscany,” “The Last Lecture,” “Rules of the Red Rubber Ball” and “The Nag Hammadi Library” — and Men’s Fitness magazine.

Angela BrothersAngela Brothers, Age:
“My mentor said to never
tell your age after 35”
Certified Public Accountant
and Entrepreneur

Angela Brothers grew up spending her best times in Destin — piling sand on her dad at the beach, making sandcastles and getting up early to search for shells with her mom.

Now, she and her two daughters, Alexandra and Austin Paige, enjoy living in Destin all year long.

“It’s a dream come true to finally live here,” says Brothers, who purchased a home at Emerald Bay in October 2008. “The golf, the beach, reading, meditating and listening to the Gulf waves and feeling how infinite God really is.”

Brothers has been a CPA her entire career. She advanced in her field to become chief financial officer for Alabama Psychiatric Services, the largest psychiatric network in Alabama, in 1996. Since then, she has opened her own practice and works from her home office.

“My children were young teenagers then, and I decided spending time with them was worth more than career or money,” she says. “This job provides flexibility to work from home so I can attempt to be a good mother.”

Brothers, being a detailed planner, recently got a passport so she can be ready to fly at a moment’s notice to anywhere she dares to go.

“The world is out there, and in short order I will be an empty nester,” she says. “When I think about it, it’s similar to my mom when she was sitting on the front porch all dressed up and ready to go but had no one to take her. Then my dad came along and … end of story. Now, I have a passport sitting on my nightstand.”

What do you find attractive in a mate?
Intelligence and quick wit blended with a sense of adventure.

What is a relationship deal-breaker?
The inability to tell the truth.

What is your favorite thing to eat?
Oatmeal raisin cookies.

What’s your biggest pet peeve?
Someone not giving a straight answer to a straight question.

Favorite movie?
“Pretty Woman.”

Favorite book?
I like fiction dealing with adventure and mystery, mostly James Patterson and Mary Taylor Caldwell. The vocabulary in Mary Taylor Caldwell’s books is extraordinary.

Gina ShiflettGina Shiflett, 50
Principal Hair Artisan/Owner, Salon Twist in Grayton Beach

Gina Shiflett has a strong entrepreneurial drive that stems from her mother, Monya Logan, who made the daring move to start her own business in 1960 — back when women just didn’t do that sort of thing.

Following in her mother’s footsteps, Shiflett opened her own salon after falling in love with the Emerald Coast while recovering from a car accident. She moved here from Atlanta and now owns Salon Twist in Grayton Beach.

“It was like jumping off a cliff without a chute,” she says of her decision to relocate and start her own business. Clearly, the jump has paid off.

With her sculpted physique, Shiflett has a body women half her age would envy. How does she do it? Working her butt off, literally, six days a week. Her workouts include a weekly boot camp class, balance training, yoga and spinning, which she teaches at Balance Health Studio in Seagrove Beach.

You work out a lot. Do you enjoy it, or is it a chore?
I must admit, I love the high of working out. I started exercising many years ago for vanity’s sake. Now I laugh and say it is for sanity’s sake. I have always said that I would rather wear out instead of rust out.

What do you find attractive in a mate?
Someone who is loving, kind and gentle but has a sense of adventure.

What is a relationship deal-breaker?

What do you like doing on vacation?
I guess I’m an adventuresome spirit. I enjoy traveling the world, most recently returning from trips to Paris and Italy.

Favorite movie?
“Shirley Valentine.”

What would a perfect day be like?
My perfect day would be waking up beside the love of my life and drinking coffee in bed. We would then work out while our chef prepares our fresh fruits for breakfast, which we would enjoy while on the balcony of our beautiful bungalow overlooking the water. I would then fly my own jet to do my motivational lecture or to do Angelina Jolie’s hair on set. I then would return that evening to have a glass of delicious Champagne and a romantic candle-lit dinner with my beloved.

Kay PhenlanKay Phelan, 61
Proprietor, Phelan & Lowry Ltd., a marketing and public relations company

You may catch a glimpse of a red blur zooming down Highway 98 with the gorgeous silver-haired fox, Kay Phelan, inside. That’s her “Bradmobile,” as she calls her cherry red Corvette. Her beloved son, Brad, died of pancreatic cancer in December of 2007 at the age of 36. His last wish was to fulfill his lifelong dream of owning a Corvette. Now, Phelan says she will keep the car in the family, comforted that his spirit surrounds her every time she drives the car.

For the past 14 years, Phelan has been enjoying a semi-retired state of being with the company now composed of “me, myself and I,” she says. During that time, Phelan has worked tirelessly with area nonprofits such as the Cultural Arts Association, the Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation and Sinfonia Gulf Coast.

On the business side, Destin Commons has been her client since before the outdoor lifestyle center opened almost six years ago.

“As their public relations consultant,” she says, “I wear Destin Commons on my sleeve and in my heart. I am so proud of the many things the center does to help the community it serves. And of course, it’s a great place to shop and socialize.”

What do you find attractive in a mate?
A strong and independent male who can handle a strong and independent female.

What is a relationship deal-breaker?
You might have to ask my previous husbands that question. I always said my previous four marriages all ended for distinctly different reasons, until I realized long after the fact that there was one major commonality in all of them — me! So what does that say?

What’s your biggest pet peeve?
Enjoying the single lifestyle now for 21 years, I find it difficult to relate to men or women who think that their lives are not complete without a relationship. I’m certainly not against relationships, they are great, but I don’t think one can ever force that to happen. Either it happens naturally or it doesn’t, but life goes on with or without a relationship.

Favorite TV show?
It’s a tie between “Dancing with The Stars” and “American Idol.”

Favorite movie?
“Out of Africa.” Meryl Streep was superb in that movie, depicting a woman’s strength, stamina and courage.

Favorite book?
Not a big book reader, just the usual trashy romantic novels when at the beach taking in the sun.

What is on your nightstand?
A land-line phone and an oil hurricane lamp, in the event of a hurricane.

David CanalesDavid Canales, 61
Owner, David Morgan Salon

David Canales spent the early days of his career living the glamorous life of the celebrity stylist, traveling the world working in the movie industry fashioning hair and makeup for film and television before moving to Destin. He then opened the David Morgan Salon, which he named after his two sons, Christian David and Morgan Richard.

He has worked in the fashion centers of London, Paris and New York as stylist to megastars Penelope Cruz, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Clive Owen and Emma Thompson.

Of Spanish descent, Canales speaks four languages — Spanish, Italian, English and Portuguese. He celebrates his heritage with a passion for operettas and baroque music, and admires the watercolor paintings of artist Sir William Russell Flint.

After what Canales describes as a misspent youth, he traveled to Tibet searching for answers in life. He ended up spending three years there and discovered that the answers were with him the whole time.

“I just had to travel 8,000 miles to figure it out,” he says.

Stylist Linda King, who has worked for Canales for nearly a year, says she has a compassionate boss who cares for his employees and clients.

“He’s just a great person, caring, considerate and an overall nice guy,” she says. “He’s definitely not a player.”

What is the difference in American and European lifestyles?
Europeans aren’t in a hurry. We eat with passion, drink with passion … Whatever we do, we do it with passion — and we take our time.

What is your favorite thing to do?
My best time is spent sipping wine on some terrace in Italy, where I plan to return someday.

And how do you spend your weekends in the meantime?
Playing soccer and tennis.

What do you find attractive in a mate?
Intelligence, class, humor and a love of culture.

What is a relationship deal-breaker?
A lack of any of those.

Favorite movie?
“A Good Year.” I watch it at least every month.

Bill CampbellBill Campbell, 65 (“Mentally, I’m only 32,” he says)
Columnist, The Beachcomber

Bill Campbell knows the Emerald Coast. He worked as a columnist for the Northwest Florida Daily News for 13 years and authored the book, “Reflections: The Emerald Coast’s People and Places,” which is a compilation of his columns from the newspaper.

Now, Campbell travels along the Emerald Coast to write about its fascinating places and interesting people as The Beachcomber’s “Roving Rogue.”

An excerpt from his first column for the Daily News, which he wrote as his mother was dying of cancer: The only advice she ever gave me was … “Your father and I have some very good things about us. We also have some traits that are bad. Sort them out, for they are in you. Capitalize on the good ones; try to avoid the rest. Your deal,” (as they play a game of cribbage).

He was recently awarded the National Society of Newspaper Columnists’ Will Rogers Humanitarian Award, which honors columnists whose work in civic journalism benefits the community. Campbell’s perspective is, “Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile,” as Albert Einstein once said.

What do you find attractive in a mate?
Well, looks at first. But that can be deceiving, so intelligence helps. Humor is invaluable. I love the healing power of a good laugh.

What’s a relationship deal-breaker?
Smoking, which is so hypocritical because I was a smoker. But now I can’t tolerate being around it.

How would you spend a perfect day?
Brunch at Bay Café in Fort Walton Beach, lunch at Bud & Alley’s in Seaside followed by — depending on our athleticism at the time — a bike ride down Highway 30-A. The night would end with dinner and dancing at Seagar’s in Sandestin.

What’s your favorite meal?
Steak au poivre with a nice red zinfandel.

Favorite movie?
I saw “Love Story” while on a first date, bawled my eyes out and was completely embarrassed. It turned out to be the greatest aphrodisiac I could have thought of. The evening was awesome. Unfortunately the same ruse didn’t work after “Bull Durham” or “Nightmare on Elm Street.”

Favorite book?
“To Kill a Mockingbird,” by Harper Lee. I’ve got two signed first-edition copies and one in German.