Most people who live in the South truly love it here. Despite the occasional spell of inferno-like heat, and the fact that no one knows how to drive in snow because it hardly ever does, we enjoy the leisurely pace, the friendly people and a lifestyle that we probably couldn’t afford in many other parts of the country.
Of course, our armed services personnel have been deciding for decades that they like it here—enough that this is where they choose to retire. Medal of Honor recipient and second most highly-decorated soldier in the US Armed Forces (exceeded only by the legendary Audie Murphy), Major General George L. Mabry, Jr. (USA), served his country to the very ends of the earth, and at the end of all that, he still chose to come home to South Carolina. Other members of the “Greatest Generation” who came home to Sumter were two of our Tuskegee Airmen, Philip Rembert and Leroy Bowman. More recently, a couple of other notable individuals have included General Mike Moseley (USAF), formerly of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and 9th Air Force Commander Major General William Holland (USAF). (I actually had to look up General Holland’s first name, because a mere two years following his retirement, he is known throughout our community fondly and simply as “Dutch.”)
In fact, Sumter has been discovered by quite a few people in the years since we launched our retirement and relocation programs. Herself a transplant courtesy of the Air Force National Guard, program coordinator Debra Greene has no plans of going anyplace anytime soon, either (and as for me, I’m a lifelong Southerner, so I suppose you’re just stuck with me!). But not everyone who chooses to move here is involved with the military; we have an increasing number of civilian personnel who are drawn to Sumter for a variety of reasons—needless to say, all good!
Last month, our community was awarded a new recognition that we hope will help draw more people to the area. The 80th Annual United States Conference of Mayors chose Sumter, SC as one of “America’s Most Liveable Cities,” one of only six to be recognized out of a field of more than 200. The prestigious Annual Livability Award, now in its 33rd year, is based on outstanding programs and mayors who increase a community’s quality of life through leadership, creativity and innovation. Our mayor, Joseph T. McElveen, Jr., accepted the award in Orlando, Florida during a ceremony attended by his peers from across the United States. Mr. McElveen was quick to note that credit should also go to the City’s partners in the new programs that have revitalized our downtown area in recent years, but mostly, he said, “This project was a win for our city on so many levels.”
And if you take a look at Sumter now, as opposed to Sumter twenty years ago, it’s obvious that we’ve had many “wins.” Retail, restaurants, housing, base expansion, community services and amenities …all have grown at a rate that defies the national economy. Oh, we are always going to have people of a certain age who complain that “there’s nothing to do here.” But having once felt that way myself and having since traveled to other places, I can reliably report that there’s as much to do here as there is anywhere!
Our congratulations again to the City of Sumter, and if you’ve ever given a thought to checking us out as a possible place to relocate, well, why not do it now? Call the Swan Lake Visitors Center at (803) 436-2640 or toll-free, 1-800-688-4748. You can also visit us online here.
When people who could live anywhere choose to live here, well, there must be a reason…and we have a lot of very good reasons to consider Sumter. Stay for a day, stay for a season, and you might want to stay for a lifetime!