As a self-described military brat, Catherine “Cat” Dickey knows the life of a nomad. Her youth was divided between Germany and Wisconsin, and since then she’s lived in Texas, Georgia and Korea. Today, in her early 30s, she is an information security specialist who is able to call the shots on where she lives. That’s why Dickey’s purchase of her Aberdeen home had special significance. “I really wanted to put down roots somewhere,” she says of her decision to make the Moore County town her home.
As a configuration manager in the federal solutions division of a top U.S. technology company, Dickey works at Fort Bragg, the U.S. Army’s sprawling complex nearby. Moreover, as a 1st Lieutenant in the Army Reserves, she’s assigned to FORSCOM at the base – and this after an active-duty stint in the Army’s 82nd Sustainment Brigade. “I’m a fourth generation military officer,” Dickey says proudly.
Upon arriving in North Carolina in 2010, Dickey lived first in Fayetteville and then Southern Pines before closing on her 1,600-square-foot “shotgun” house in March 2013. Though brand new, the home sits in Aberdeen’s historic district on a leafy half-acre lot. “I’ve got loblolly pines and old-growth trees on the property,” she says. “I wasn’t interested in land that had been clear-cut.”
Dickey, who is single, shares the place with her two cats, Artemis and Turtle. But there is also a steady stream of friends and former Army colleagues finding their way to Moore County and needing temporary digs. “I take in a lot of strays,” she says, referring to fresh transplants to the community awaiting their own permanent living quarters. “More and more military people are moving here.”
In addition to her work at Bragg, Dickey is pursuing an online masters degree in information assurance and cyber security, which she expects to complete in 2015. “I do computers and communications stuff,” she says, summarizing her career interests.
She stays active. Dickey and her boyfriend, also a military contractor, take long walks through Weymouth Woods after dinner. And she is an avid cyclist. “I have a road bike and a mountain bike,” she says. The Uwharrie National Forest, about an hour away in her diesel Volkswagen Jetta, is a favorite spot for mountain biking, and she has plenty of friends to road-bike with just about any time. “There’s a huge road-biking community here,” says Dickey, who also does CrossFit training and races in charity “fun” runs. “I’ve never been one to just sit around.”
The friendliness of Moore County residents was something Dickey immediately noticed. She’s on a convivial first-name basis with the business people she interacts with, be it the owner of her favorite gourmet cheese shop or the mechanic who services her beloved Jetta. “That’s part of the reason I love this place,” she says.
Dickey has also gotten involved in the community. She’s a member of Veterans of Foreign Wars’ local post, and she’s active in the Old Glory Legacy Foundation. The group organizes outdoor events and programs in support of military families across the Sandhills.
Based on whatever she’s in the mood for -- crepes, stone-oven pizza, steamed oysters or craft beer, Dickey chooses from a long list of options for good food and nightlife. She rarely misses a First Friday, the monthly summertime street fests held in the heart of Southern Pines. “They take an entire section of downtown and block it off,” she says. There’s something for people of all ages, and many First Friday attendees bring their dogs along. “There’s always a different band every month,” Dickey says. It’s a relaxed scene that is ideal for seeing friends and making new ones. “Everybody gets out and gets social – and just gets chill.”