The DuValls: A Happy Landing in Brunswick Forest
As it turns out, not all of the stereotypes about the South are true. We don’t all drive late model Ford or Chevy pick-ups with oversized mud tires; we don’t all eat chopped barbecue with sweet tea each day at lunchtime; and many of us even have a full set of teeth and wear shirts without the sleeves ripped off.
Upon arriving in the Tar Heel State, Beth and Bill DuVall were pleased to find that many of these stereotypical characterizations of the South weren’t true. In fact, in North Carolina the couple found great professional opportunities, new friends and an active, healthy lifestyle.
After starting their professional careers in Ohio (near Fort Wayne, Indiana), Beth was presented with an opportunity to be promoted as a broker with the financial services group Edward Jones. She had several options regarding where she could locate, but her decision really hinged on her husband. It takes time for an investment broker to build a business, so it was important for the couple to locate in an area where Bill could find work in his field as a consultant to the hog industry.
Clinton, North Carolina, was their choice, and they moved there in 1988. The small town proved to be an excellent place for the couple to raise a family and a good place to grow a business as well. The DuValls also invested in real estate and met success.
“But we were some of the lucky ones that got out okay,” says Beth. “We saw houses increasing in value by fifty thousand dollars in a year. As brokers, we know that values come back down at some point.”
The couple lowered the inventory of homes on their books but kept a select few as personal investments and rental properties. One such property was a house in a new development called Brunswick Forest. At first the DuValls just used the house as a home base where they would stay the night while visiting their daughters, Megan and Michelle, who both live in Mallory Creek with their families.
The more time that the DuValls spent at their house in Brunswick Forest, the harder it was to leave. They began making a real personal connection with the community.
“It’s been really easy to make friends in Brunswick Forest because everyone in Brunswick Forest is new,” says Beth. “It’s friendlier here and healthier here too (compared to Ohio)… People walk here a whole lot, they go to the wellness center, kayak, and play golf.”
Bill and Beth participate in organized golf groups at Cape Fear National and work out through several professionally led programs at the Wellness Center.
Today the DuValls’ investment home has turned into their full-time residence. The couple has managed an enviable balance of family life, personal life and professional life. Edward Jones Investments, the company for which Bill and Beth worked while in Clinton, has allowed the couple to co-manage an office together in Leland, so they are both able to put in time at work while also taking some time during the week for recreation. Their daughters and their grandchildren, Brayden (5) and Nolan (2), live close by, and Bill and Beth take them to their beach home in Holden Beach with some regularity.
“We love Holden Beach,” says Beth. “The grandkids love it too, and we are really, really glad. We thought we might retire at the beach, but there just isn’t the same sense of community that we get here at Brunswick Forest.”
Fortunately, Beth and Bill have managed to have the best of both worlds.
The DuValls have maintained an active lifestyle throughout life, not just since moving to Brunswick County.
“Being in the financial services business we found that everyone’s dream is to travel when they retire, and then their health doesn’t let them,” says Beth. “So we made it a point to travel, usually taking two trips a year.”
The Duvalls have traveled to places such as Buenos Aires, New Zealand, Tahiti and Greece. Of all the places they have been, they describe their trip to Governors’ Camp in Kenya with the most nostalgia.
“You get up at dawn and all go out to different places and you see incredible things, things like a lion taking down a zebra, and then you come back together and share stories of what everyone saw,” says Bill. “It was an incredible experience.”
Another trip that the couple treasures is their time in Egypt. “We saw the Pyramids of Giza, the Valley of the Kings — everything you see on Nat Geo we did,” says Beth.
It is human nature to try to control one’s fate and plan for one’s ideal future. Ironically, things generally never turn out just as a person had planned, and yet the reality often turns out to be even better than the plan. Just a few years ago, the plan for the DuValls was to slow down and enjoy a relaxing retirement on Holden Beach. Instead, their lives have evolved into a unique balance where they are able to include family, work and the pleasures of living in the South.