Finding Aiken: Northern guy falls for Southern charm
Editor’s note: This is the second part of a three-part series exploring why and how residents not native to Aiken chose to make this area their home.
Aiken resident Dick Dewar never thought he would ever live in the South.
“We hadn’t ever considered it,” Dewar said. “A story I’ve heard all the time from people who moved to Aiken say they looked around and just found Aiken. I’ve talked to people up North who said they checked all the towns of interest from Florida on, and finally got Aiken.”
A New England man, Dewar was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts close to Harvard and MIT. Fresh out of graduating from Boston College, Dewar joined the Air Force.
“I went everywhere; I was all over the place,” Dewar said. “I went from Texas to Ohio. I joined the military right out of college, graduating in June and turning 21 in August.”
He was then assigned to a base in Hawaii and served as a security officer on the headquarters. After retiring from the Air Force in 1982, Dewar and his family moved to Los Angeles, California, where he worked security for big events like the 1984 Olympic Games.
“I thought we we’re actually going to stay there for a short period of time,” Dewar said. “But then 23 years later, we were still there.”
But after a visit in 1980 to see Dewar’s wife’s cousin in Aiken, Dewar said he could see why people were falling in love with the town.
“My wife’s cousin’s husband came to the Site (Savannah River Site) in 1951 or 1952, and when we visited I really liked it,” Dewar said. “I always loved the small town feel, and it had a potential to be a good retirement place.”
After bouncing around from state to state, city to city, Dewar finally called Aiken home.
“We settled in pretty quickly,” Dewar said. “It’s a nice community, and it’s everything I was looking for in retirement. I can play golf where I want to and when I want to.”
Dewar also currently covers District 3 on the Aiken City Council.
“I love the ambience of Aiken,” Dewar said. “It really is a great community. Another great thing about living here is the equestrian community feel. It’s nice to have a lot of different things going on so close around you. My family loves South Carolina, and they always love to come out and visit here.”
Dewar said there are quite a few things he misses about the other places he has lived.
“I miss two things about the West – the great weather is one, because it hardly ever changes,” Dewar said. “It’ll stay between 30 and 40 degrees, between the high and low, and I also miss the time zone. I always liked the idea that I could watch Monday Night Football at 6 p.m. and go to bed at a decent time. I don’t watch it anymore because it comes on late, and I wouldn’t be done until midnight.”
Dewar still follows his New England teams. He was joyous after his alma mater joined the ACC, now able to play teams in the area.
But while Dewar has picked up maybe one Southern quirk, don’t think he’s about to abandon all of his Bostonian habits.
“I haven’t really developed any major Southern quirks, but I’ve recently learned to love shrimp and grits,” Dewar said, laughing.
Maayan Schechter is the local government reporter with Aiken Standard.