When the Joneses began to look at retirement, they knew they wanted a slower pace than they were accustomed to in the D.C. area but they didn’t want things to come to a complete halt.
“We weren’t going to live in the mountains,” Laura Reasoner Jones joked. “I still need high speed internet.”
Laura worked as a special education and then a technology teacher in Fairfax County, Virginia and Dennis was a hospice chaplain. They wanted to relocate somewhere without wall to wall traffic, that would still provide a certain level of comfort and plenty of activities to enjoy in their retirement.
They found Franklin by coincidence when a colleague of Laura’s invited them to visit her Emlenton home. They were struck by the natural beauty of the area, and started doing some research. Their children – each has two – live in Philadelphia, Texas, Virginia and Florida, so there was no way to live near all of them. They had no family ties to this area, and neither felt a pull to move back to their home towns. Dennis grew up in Ohio and Laura in Indiana. Although Pennsylvania may be considered part of the Northeast region, they both found it felt very much like “home” in the Midwest.
They purchased their home on Liberty Street exactly 10 years ago and spent many weekends here preparing the home and familiarizing themselves with the area. In all, they made 88 trips logging 57,000 miles in the seven years between buying their house and moving in full time.
“Most people find their dream home first without considering the surrounding community, but we found the community first and the house came secondary,” Dennis said.
For Laura in particular, the decision to retire was a difficult one. She loved working with the GEMS program to teach young girls about math and science. She has been able to continue her work through local school districts and libraries and has gotten involved as a board member of The Bridge Builders Foundation, helping to start their Women’s Empowerment Fund.
Dennis was more ready to retire, but is happy to be able to help a local funeral home when they have a need. He is still looking for a Quaker meeting closer than Pittsburgh, but all the other services he needs are easily found in Venango County.
The Joneses love the county wide library system, the local newspaper with good local coverage, easy access to healthcare providers, the availability of local contractors for home improvements and other services. For a small town, Dennis said Franklin has a good concentration of quality services and he isn’t sure people who have lived her all their lives realize how valuable that is. Here in Venango, you can be to your appointment and back in the time it would take to drive one way in Fairfax where they would have to leave an hour early to get to a lot of places they needed to go.
And speaking of ease of travel, the $29 flight from Franklin to Pittsburgh has been a real benefit for the Joneses when visiting their family members all over the country.