In February 2024, Dawn Bartram will have been with BesTitle for 11 years, most recently serving as the Office Manager for the Teays Valley office. Although she began her career in Information Technology, it didn’t take her long to realize that she preferred a career that allowed her to work closely with people. After working in a law firm, she discovered she was drawn to real estate and particularly, title work. The move has paid off for Dawn and BesTitle, as Tim Jamison, COO, says “Our entire team is happy to have the privilege to work with Dawn every day on behalf of our clients.”
Real estate closings provide her the opportunity to work with people during oftentimes one of the most stressful times in their lives. “You are dealing with their money and ultimately helping them to get to their ultimate goal,” she notes. But because of that, they are grateful. “That’s why I have stayed with it,” she says, “it’s kind of a rush when people come in to close on their home. There is a lot of energy in those moments.”
Tom Klein, President of BesTitle is quick to point out that, “It is Dawn’s expertise, experience, honesty, and positive attitude that makes her a central part of BesTitle – for both our internal team and our clients.”
Adding to the inherent stress of title work, Dawn became the Office Manager for the Teays Valley office of BesTitle during the COVID-19 pandemic. “It was stressful with a new set of rules that had to be followed. Real estate had to keep moving.” In addition, because of Dawn’s attributes, her office was – and continues to be – used as a training incubator for BesTitle, making a busy role even busier.
Perhaps it’s a little of “all of the above” that caused Dawn and her husband of nearly 28 years, Billy, to make a life-changing decision in December 2020.
On December 3rd, Billy commented, “Wouldn’t it be awesome if we can find land? That’s what I want for Christmas.” By December 5th, which also happened to be Dawn’s birthday, they found a listing for a 12-acre piece of property, and their offer for purchase was accepted.
To Dawn and Billy, “it felt meant to be”: they closed on December 23rd, the last business day before Christmas – a holiday that plays a prominent role in their life, there were 12 acres, one each for the 12 days of Christmas, and on the far edge of the property there was a small road noticeable only on the map named “Tram Road” – surely a play on their last name, Bartram.
It had always been a dream for Dawn and Billy to get out of the city and into the country so they could enjoy a life with animals and a garden. Of course, since no one had lived on the land for at least 12 years, there was a lot of work to be done, all of which they did (and continue to do) themselves. They moved their home and garage to the new land and once power was connected, they officially moved into their new home on October 19, 2021.
While they were excited to embark on this new chapter of their life, she acknowledged that it was essentially like starting over. There was a constant list of new projects that needed to be done and, of course, learning to take care of all of their new animals. Dawn calls it “chicken math” that they started with six chickens and now are up to 40 chickens, two roosters, and two turkeys. But don’t forget the goats! They started with two, Bert and Ernie, “and then you blink, and you have nine goats.” Dawn says, “These are the things that you never would have imagined!”
From staying up all night to deliver baby goats to nursing them and then just keeping the goats from killing themselves – turns out they are a pretty crazy animal – she admits, “it’s a lot but looking back we realized that this is what we always wanted to do.” She says she wouldn’t change any of it other than trying to not stress as much and to take better care of herself. “When we start something, we are all in until it’s done.” With both her and Billy like that, it started to take its toll. Her Dad reminded her regularly, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.”
Unfortunately, the stress resulted in some health scares for both her and Billy including an eczema diagnosis with acute flares due to the stress, a pulmonary embolism, and a perforated appendix also likely caused by stress. Combining the health issues with concern about the amount of weight she had gained, Dawn set out to make yet another change in her life in March 2023. Since that time, she has lost 56 pounds, has adopted a regular workout regimen, and has a lot more energy – which is certainly needed on the farm!
She credits her animals for helping her to make the necessary changes. “Having to take care of the animals forced me to take care of myself.” She says, “I couldn’t imagine going home and not ensuring they have everything that they need … but that takes a lot of energy, which I didn’t have before.”
While Dawn has embraced her new life on the farm, she does admit, “Billy was raised in the country, but I am a city girl.” She says it has taken her a while to adapt to some things, including all of the wildlife that also call their land home. “As long as I know that they serve a purpose, I am okay with them. I am learning a lot about myself and things that I used to be afraid of. They aren’t there for me.”
Something else she knows for sure, “We are not going anywhere.”