Gary and Susan Dent Are Back Where It All Began, Almost

Published: March 24, 2020

After 15 years of enjoying retirement on the shores of W. Kerr Scott Reservoir in Wilkes County, Susan and Gary Dent are happy to be back in Greensboro and enjoying all the activities and friendly faces at Friends Homes.

This area has always been special to the couple, who have been married for over 58 years. They met just across the road from Friends Homes at nearby Guilford College and lived in Greensboro much of their lives. But it was the people at Friends Homes and the warmth of its Quaker influence that made it feel like the right place to be for Susan and Gary.

After their sophomore year at Guilford College, Susan and Gary married. Susan worked while Gary finished his degree. Then she completed her studies at North Carolina State University after Gary joined the U.S. Air Force. He served for five years with he, Susan and their growing family spending two years of his service stationed in the Azores.

Back home, Gary enjoyed a career working in adult education, spending several years at Guilford Technical Community College before retiring as IT manager for an area charter school. Susan had a long career in the financial services industry, working as a manager with several credit unions in the area.

When they retired, the couple built a lake house on the W. Kerr Scott Reservoir up in Wilkesboro. “We had property up there on the lake and our grandchildren were delighted,” Susan says with a laugh. With three kids and eight grandchildren who loved to visit, they enjoyed their time on the lake. But as the couple grew into their seventies, they realized that it was time to downsize.

Although they looked at a few other communities, Friends Homes felt more like their home. “We really felt drawn to our Quaker friends here,” says Susan. “We had looked at other places, very nice places… but they weren’t Friends Homes.”

As members of New Garden Friends Meeting, they already knew Friends Homes well. “Susan was asked to serve on the Board of Trustees for Friends Homes some 20 to 30 years ago and added our names to the waiting list,” explains Gary. “When we decided we were ready to find a place to go, we were number one on the list after being on it for 29 years or so.”

Since they had been on the list at Friends Homes for almost three decades, they didn’t have to wait long for the call. “We turned it down the first time,” says Gary. “But when they called the second time, we figured we needed to get our act together.”

For the Dents, that meant tackling the seemingly overwhelming task of downsizing from their 4,000+ square foot home at the lake to their right-sized, 1,100 square foot, two-bedroom apartment in Friends Homes West. “It was incredible, but our family helped a lot,” Gary says.

“But we have no regrets,” adds Susan. “I very much enjoy all the things we can do here… We see lots of movies. We have speakers come in…

“However, what really makes me happy about this place,” she continues, “is you can’t walk down the halls without somebody smiling at you and saying hello. It’s very easy to meet people and do things.”

“You don’t have to cook or clean up afterwards, that’s what Susan likes,” Gary says as they both laugh.

The couple moved to Friends Homes in January 2019. Since then, they’ve been taking advantage of many of the community’s frequent outings, such as the Bryan Series of lectures at Guilford College, the Morehead Planetarium in Chapel Hill, along with the Greensboro Symphony Orchestra. And they’ve found it easy to make new friends along the way.

“At the lake, we were the oldest in our neighborhood,” Susan says with a giggle. “Now we’re the youngest. They call us the kids!”

Gary quickly jokes, “We haven’t gotten to the adult table here yet.”

“The people here, it’s amazing how good the longevity is here,” continues Susan. “They seem younger and more active.”

Heading into spring, Gary has his sights set on getting back into one of his favorite activities, gardening. He spent time last summer getting his hands dirty working the garden at a nearby church. But he’s looking into developing a big vegetable garden at Friends Homes. “We have some raised box gardens here,” says Gary. “But it’s not the heavy-duty gardening that I enjoy. So, I’m going to work on seeing if we can create that here.

“At Friends Homes, if there’s something that’s not here that you want, you can start it.”

The Dents are also looking forward to the upcoming expansion with its new dining options and expanded wellness center. “The bistro and more exercise and recreational space… it’s going to make for a very nice campus,” says Gary.

“The apartments are nice and comfortable,” says Susan. “You can come and enjoy yourself and participate as much as you want. But I think it’s the people… they make you feel like you belong here. It’s a happy place.

“It makes for a nice life.”

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