Story By Rebecca Pierre
Photography By Chris Campbell
Though Susan and Jan Withrow have only been in their home in Sunset Ridge for about a year, they are not exactly strangers to the area.
For Susan, moving to Ocean Isle Beach was almost a homecoming, as she was born in nearby Wilmington and is a graduate of New Hanover High School. Jan, on the other hand, is originally from a small town near Pittsburgh, Pa.
Jan and Susan met in the early 1970s when Jan, who recently retired as director of Contract Manufacturing for DuPont, came to Wilmington, N.C., in 1972 for the start-up of the DuPont Plant. Susan and Jan married and began their family in Wilmington. Eventually, in 1979, Jan was transferred back to corporate headquarters in Wilmington, Delaware.
Susan was a stay-at-home mom raising five daughters. Jan’s dad had been a scout for the Cardinals and Jan played baseball in college as well as in the army, so it’s no surprise that all their girls were involved in sports. Susan says when she and Jan were dating he dragged her all over Wilmington to baseball games to be sure she would be happy with someone who loved sports.
The Withrows spent countless hours hauling the girls to and from basketball, field hockey, soccer and softball practices and attending their games. One of the girls was a four-sport athlete, and another was awarded a college scholarship to play field hockey. Four of the five girls attended colleges in North Carolina, at N.C. State, UNC Chapel Hill and UNC Greensboro.
After their children married, the Withrows liked to spend their family Thanksgivings near the ocean on the Outer Banks, renting a house large enough for the entire family, including the parents of their sons-in-law. Starting about ten years before Jan’s retirement, the Withrows began searching for the perfect place to spend their retirement years. They wanted to live near the ocean and searched the East Coast from Delaware to Palm Coast, Fla. They eventually decided on the Ocean Isle Beach area. Susan, who still has family in North Carolina, is very happy to be back in her home state.
The Withrows chose to build in the Sunset Ridge community and were extremely pleased with their experience with Bill Clark Homes. Jan says their experience with Bill Clark Homes Sales Consultant Eric Lank was without pressure and was very positive.
“Eric was professional, knowledgeable, helpful and cooperative,” says Jan.
Not only were the Withrows able to tour a model home in the development, but also many of the people who were already living in the community opened their doors to the Withrows and allowed them to tour their homes so that they could get a look at the interiors of other available models.
The Withrows settled on a house plan, but they moved walls, increased footage and changed a two-car garage to a three-car garage.
“The production quality is impressive and the key word for Bill Clark Homes is flexibility,” says Jan. “You can add, modify or delete any part of the standard model you choose except for the elevation.”
Susan’s favorite parts of the house are the screened-in back porch and the area of the bathroom where they chose to make a private area for her and all her things in lieu of a garden tub.
The Delay Start Program was especially helpful to the Withrows. This program allows for flexible time from the start of construction through closing. The Withrows had a target of 10 to 12 months, and their house was ready to be occupied in 11 months.
Jan says living in Sunset Ridge could not be better. The location is close to both Sunset Beach and Ocean Isle Beach. There is a community center, a club house and a pool as well as a golf course right next door. The development is quiet and has a neighborhood feel to it.
Susan is involved in a book club and wants to learn to play golf. She says there are card clubs, Mahjong and even groups that get together for cruises and trips to places like Jamaica.
“You can choose to get involved in activities as much or as little as you want,” she says.
“The people are extremely friendly and active,” agrees Jan. “There is something to do every day. There are monthly parties where everyone brings a dish, Super Bowl Parties, St. Patrick’s Day events and many other social activities. The residents come from diverse backgrounds and have valuable knowledge and resources with a willingness to share them to help not only their neighbors, but the community at large. It is a willing and supportive community for the local area and helps out the Food Bank, the Oyster Festival and many other nonprofits.”
The only drawback of Sunset Ridge for the Withrows might be the physical distance from their family. It was understandably difficult for Susan to leave her grandchildren behind, but she and Jan are confident that living near the beach will be a draw for the children and grandchildren.