Editor’s note: This is the third part of a three-part series exploring why and how residents not native to Aiken chose to make this area their home.
John Dangler is 64-year-old retired Superior Court judge of Morris County, New Jersey, with four children and zero ties to Aiken.
That didn’t stop he and his wife, Patricia, from making the ultimate commitment to the city they fell in love with.
“We’re here for the long run. We have our ash plot markers with our names and dates of birth sitting in the cemetery at St. Thaddeus Episcopal Church. So that’s our commitment to Aiken,” Dangler said.
In the early 2000s, Dangler said he and his wife began searching for communities for retirement through vacationing and online.
They were looking for a community that resembled where they both grew up, he said.
Neither wanted to live near the coast but wanted a place in Virginia or in one of the Carolinas.
One day, they went to a Live South show which featured property developers from various areas. That particular show included developers from Aiken who spoke so fondly of the area, they knew they had to check it out.
“They spoke so fondly of it that we flew into Columbia and drove down to Aiken,” Dangler said. “As soon as we drove in, we knew we were home and had found exactly what we were looking for.”
Dangler said they bought a lot in Aiken in 2006 and finally moved down to the area in December 2009.
Since moving here four-and-a-half years ago, the couple has become invested in the community in various ways.
They have become active members of St. Thaddeus, and Dangler said his wife is on the vestry there, among other committees.
In addition, the couple is involved with many of Mead Hall’s projects.
Dangler currently chairs the board of directors for the Child Advocacy Center and is also a member of Aiken Rotary.
One of the reasons he and his wife felt comfortable with their decision to stay is the abundance of talent they found after moving, he said.
“I found a wealth of talent in many of the residents who were born and raised here, as well as others who have made Aiken their home,” Dangler said. “We were active in many civic groups in Jersey and now that we have even more time, it’s been great being able to do the same here.”
He added, “I couldn’t give you a negative about Aiken. It’s a community of caring and compassion, and that’s indicative of the level of volunteerism that we see here.”
Derrek Asberry is a beat reporter with the Aiken Standard. He joined the paper in June. He is originally from Vidalia, Ga., and a graduate of Georgia Southern University. Follow him on Twitter @DerrekAsberry.