Elizabeth City Perfect Spot for Second Career

Meet the Bruderles

A second career can be oh so rewarding, as Pete Bruderle will tell you. Nearly 30 years into a successful financial career, working and traveling the globe as a CFO, he left it behind in 2006 to teach high school math. Eight years later, he and his wife Sally made another life-changing choice – to move from bustling Fairfax, Va., to Elizabeth City.

They’ve never been happier, they say.

“I was tired of the business world,” said Pete, who earned a BA from the University of Notre Dame and an MBA from the Wharton School of Business. “Even though I did a lot of exciting things, it was very stressful. I wanted to do something more meaningful, and as it turns out, something I enjoyed more.”

Embarking on second, and even third careers, has become increasingly common, according to the Bureau of Labor, as more workers elect to make better use of their skills, act on a long-deferred dream or pursue new interests.

Being able to start anew in a new location was the icing on the cake for the Bruderles. Sally grew up in Elizabeth City, living with her family on a farm outside the town limits. Following graduation from the University of North Carolina, she and Pete met while working in Athens, Ga. After they married, settling in Philadelphia and then Fairfax, the couple returned to Elizabeth City often to visit family and introduce their children to Sally’s hometown.

“We gave a lot of thought to Elizabeth City,” said Pete. “Back in the day, when we had young children, we would never have thought about retiring here. As time went on, Elizabeth City looked better and better as we started evaluating our life in Fairfax and the wonderful quality of life in Elizabeth City.”

They purchased a lot in 2007 on Rivershore Road. Soon after their youngest left the nest, they built and moved in to their new home in 2014. That same year, Pete took a teaching job at Currituck High School. Today he teaches math and special education at the Northeast Academy for Aerospace and Advanced Technologies, a new STEM-focused magnet school that complements Elizabeth City’s aviation industry.

The switch from northern Virginia’s congestion to Elizabeth City’s open spaces has been an easy one for the couple. Pete likes the five-minute drive to the Academy (when the weather’s nice he bikes). Sally, who had enjoyed a busy career in art and then in online sales for The New York Times and Billboard magazine, volunteers as a Guardian ad Litem with the North Carolina court system. In this role, she is appointed by the court to advocate for the best interests of an abused or neglected child.

In their down time, they explore the waterways on their 30-foot sailboat, work in their garden, take in art openings and concerts at Arts of the Albemarle and socialize with their neighbors.

“We have a pier, kayaks, restaurants in town,” said Sally. “Our children love it, and our daughter just moved here with us and will start at College of the Albemarle next semester.”

“There are things you can see and like in Elizabeth City – the water, golf course, neighborhoods. But for me, the most lovely thing about living here is the fact that it’s just a beautiful, friendly small town,” said Pete.

In fact, Pete has already designed, in his head, a small ad that he believes Elizabeth City’s business leaders should place in The New Yorker magazine. The headline should read, “Shhhh,” and below that it would say, in slightly smaller type, “Don’t tell anyone. Elizabeth City, N.C.”