From Atlanta to Here

Over 30 years ago, the Franks family made the bold decision to move from Atlanta to an unchartered place in nature known as Reynolds. They haven't looked backed since.

A surge of energy pours through the big family house down the cul de sac under the trees. Feet continually drum up and down the stairs. Trash talk permeates the enormous game room. The smoky scent of a pork butt wafts inside whenever the patio door opens. Through the sounds and smells is laughter—lots of laughter.

“Active, isn’t it?” says Martha Franks, splitting her attention between a game on TV and the family gamesmanship. “I wouldn’t want it any other way.”

It’s been this way since Martha and her husband, Rick, moved to Reynolds nearly 30 years ago. Their purpose? To raise three sons (Jackson, Alan, and Tyler) in a natural environment, where they could focus on having fun. In other words, they just wanted to be themselves.

The mission appears to be in perpetual progress. Yes, the boys have moved out (Jackson, 41, Alan, 33, and Tyler, 30) and grown up...but not entirely.

“Whenever we mention downsizing, they won’t let us,” says Rick. “They know they can come here any time they want with their families and be kids again.”

Rick challenges Alan to a game of foosball. Jackson and Tyler rack up the balls on the pool table. Martha cuts up a watermelon. There are no generation gaps or “old days” in the Franks family. It’s the same as always.

[Rick] People say we’re Reynolds “pioneers.” When we were planning our move from the Atlanta area in 1993, friends asked, “What are you going to do out there?” We weren’t sure, but we were excited to find out. [Martha] It was just woods, nature, and gravel roads. I thought it was paradise. We still think this is paradise. Not Hawaii or the Caribbean. Here.

[Rick] To say there wasn’t much going on back then is an understatement. The only business on Highway 44 was a bait and tackle store. We’d buy everything there. Gas. Soap. Bait. Then we’d sit down for steak dinners.

In all honesty, we’ve always been a happy family, and it has everything to do with living at Reynolds. Rick Franks

[Martha] We looked like the Clampetts on one visit. To get a feel for life here, we packed our bikes in the family van and towed a boat behind it. We rode the bikes down a little road and came to a house at a dead end, so we had to turn around in the driveway. [Rick] We thought we better get out of there before they called security. It turns out, we bought that house. This is it.

[Rick] I had a “what have we done?” moment. A real estate agent showed me the only available office space for my chiropractic work when we first moved out here. I asked him why there was a big, dusty safe in one of the corners. He said, “Oh, this used to be the post office, but there wasn’t enough business, so we closed it.” In that first year, I remember sitting in a chair and staring out the window. I’d count one car passing by every 10 minutes and wonder if I’d ever have any business.

[Martha] But we were in a magical place. We were spending time with each other. We didn’t have to rush around or fight traffic. So we had faith that everything would work out.

[Rick] The reality is, Martha raised four boys. She taught our sons how to play tennis while I played outside with them—and I got into trouble with Mama a few times, too. We’d play ball, take hikes in the forest, and pretend to hunt bears, or we’d go fishing. [Martha] As a family, we spent so much time on Lake Oconee that we started to call it Rick’s Lake.

[Rick] We could not have imagined how this would turn out. My practice grew quickly. It’s one of the biggest in the Southeast. Tyler decided to become a chiropractor, too, and he works with me now. It has to be the best feeling as a parent.

[Martha] The kitchen is still our dance floor. We’ll turn up the music with the boys, their wives, the grandkids, and the dogs. Before we know it, an hour has passed. Tyler lives nearby and has dinner with us every Monday. Everyone else is less than 90 minutes away. We’re still making memories in the home where it all started.

[Martha] We see a lot of young families at Reynolds now. They don’t have to be as adventurous as we were. There’s a good school, reliable medical care, and other younger people who live here. But families really move to Reynolds for the same reason we did—so they can fully enjoy each other. [Rick] I always say that quantity time is just as important as quality time. Because the more time you spend together, the more quality moments you’ll experience.

[Martha] A person stopped me at Publix the other day. She was checking out the area and asked me if we liked living here. I said, “Are you kidding me? I’m as happy today as I was when we first moved in.” [Rick] And I’d say our kids are too.

Then & Now

Rick and Martha didn’t believe it when they first heard that a Ritz-Carlton would be coming to the community. “We used to ride our bikes in the woods where the hotel is now,” says Rick. But a Ritz-Carlton in the forest is not the most significant difference from the time the Franks family moved to Reynolds nearly 30 years ago.

“When a place called The Golden Pantry opened as the first grocery store. Now we have a hospital that looks like a hotel and a school that’s as good as any in the region.”

“When the boys are here with their families, the music goes off by 11:00 p.m. We aren’t even sure when the music stopped back when they were bringing friends home from college. We never heard a complaint though. We always say, ‘Bless thy neighbors.’”

“The entire community has maintained its natural beauty, even with new restaurants, more golf courses, and more people. Given the growth of the amenities, it’s amazing that the scenery which attracted us here in the first place is still so beautiful.”

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