Three Lynchburg natives share the reasons they moved back—families in tow—to their hometown.
By Robin Sutton-Anders
Dabney Treacy, Director of Development at the Academy Center of the Arts
What started as a two-year post-college training program in New York City turned into a 19-year stint for Dabney Treacy, who met her husband, Mike, and began to raise their three children in the Big Apple. “Originally, I’d planned to complete that training program and relocate somewhere in the south, but I ended up having a long career in banking,” Dabney says.
When the financial crisis of 2008 spurred the two to reconsider their move south, Lynchburg held a special appeal. “I grew up here, and my family is here,” says Dabney. “So our children would have the rare opportunity of going to school with their cousins and seeing their grandparents anytime.”
As a doctor of physical therapy, Mike had no trouble finding a job in Lynchburg, and Dabney got a job for a Boston-based firm before landing in her current position at the local Academy Center of the Arts. “At first I was traveling a lot, which is easy because in Lynchburg, we’re so close to Charlotte. Once you’re in Charlotte, you can get anywhere in the country,” Dabney says. “Ironically, my flights were about the same amount of time as my Boston colleagues’ commute!”
For Dabney and Mike’s three children, Lynchburg has opened doors for exploring extracurricular athletics that would have been tough in New York City. “There, the logistics are challenging,” says Dabney. “Everything had to be so supervised. But here, they have space and freedom to bounce around the neighborhood, riding their bikes and just being kids.”
LaShanta Smith, Program Director for Kids’ Haven
With Brooksville High School in the rearview mirror, LaShanta Smith headed for Randolph-Macon Women’s College (now Randolph College), where she met and fell in love with her soon-to-be husband, Aaron—who happened to be a Lynchburg College (now University of Lynchburg) basketball player. After graduation, the two moved to Baltimore.
They loved their big-city life, but when Lynchburg College called Aaron and offered him the job as assistant coach for their women’s basketball team at, it was an easy yes. “Aaron loved Baltimore, but he loves basketball more,” LaShanta laughs.
“Once we got back, I fell in love with Lynchburg all over again—but from a different perspective,” LaShanta says. “Our son was in preschool, and his teachers were wonderful; they’re all about building relationships. And now we have a daughter, who had the same kindergarten teacher as our son. I’m not sure we would have had that connection and sense of community in a bigger city.”
As program director for Kids’ Haven, an organization dedicated to serving grieving children and their families, LaShanta’s career has thrived alongside Aaron’s. “We talk about, once the kids are older and out of school, moving downtown to one of the lofts,” she says. “We like the fact that Lynchburg is alive and up-and coming with more of that city feel—here, we’re getting the best of both worlds.”
Marshall Wood, Sales Manager at Automated Conveyor Systems
Marshall Wood and his wife, Mary Catherine Garrison, loved their two years in Los Angeles. They loved their stint in Brooklyn and the six years they spent on a picturesque Hudson Valley farm. “But our son was four, and we were ready to buy a house and put down roots,” says Marshall.
For him, Lynchburg seemed like a good idea. “I was born and raised here, and I always loved it,” Marshall says. “My parents live here, and my older brothers both returned here. So there was the obvious draw of family.”
The solution wasn’t immediately obvious for Mary Catherine, who’d spent her adult life in Los Angeles and New York as a successful actress and artist. “It took a little arm twisting on my part,” Marshall says. “But Lynchburg’s affordability made it attractive to her, too, and we have both been excited to get involved with the Academy downtown.”
Lynchburg proved a great place for Mary Catherine to grow her online pottery business, marycatherinegarrison.com. “Her true love is art, and she’s been able to pursue that here.”
Come back home to Lynchburg. Get a fresh perspective on LYH by checking out our Personal Relocation Guide. If you are looking to start or relocate a business in Lynchburg see our Business Relocation Guide with helpful information on how we can help you make the move.
Robin Sutton Anders is a Greensboro-based writer and the managing editor of Verdant Word Communications.