Inside their sunlight-filled brick home in the Forrest Crossing subdivision, Heather and Bryan Doleshel laugh when they talk about how they met in their 20s, years before their move from Southern California to Franklin.
Both are West Coast natives. Bryan grew up on his family’s Christmas tree farm outside Seattle, while Heather grew up in Redondo Beach, California, next door to her grandparents.
Out of college, Bryan worked for Boeing, which eventually moved him to Manhattan Beach, where he first crossed paths with Heather through work when he hired her for an administrative role within the credit union.
Soon after beginning the job, Heather ended up going with a friend to church group barbeque. Coincidentally, that barbeque was at Bryan’s house. It was there that Heather says Bryan joked to a friend in the kitchen, “Have you met my wife?”
The two developed a friendship through their friend group at church and spent a lot of time getting to know each other before Bryan eventually quit his job to pursue other passions.
For Valentine’s Day, Bryan had organized a scavenger hunt for a singles group through the church. He ended up expressing his feelings for Heather to her friend, who he was paired with for the activities that night. The next day, he called her and they took a walk on the beach, and they agreed to begin dating.
“It was very intentional and healthy,” she said.
They dated for several months, before unknowns about work commitments and the future led to a breakup.
Over the summer, they continued to be friends and work with church groups together.
During an outing to an Los Angeles Kings hockey game, others in their group noticed their bond seemed to be rekindling.
“It was evident that we were getting back together,” Bryan said.
“It was just this telepathic sort of thing,” Heather added. “It was just mutual.”
Heather left for a church mission trip in Romania, and a month later, the two got engaged.
After making their life in Southern California and welcoming daughter Luisa, in 2006, the Doleshels felt a pull to the Nashville area in 2009.
“It was kind of one of those backward things, where we felt like it was what we were supposed to do, we did it, and then got here, and then figured it out,” Bryan said.
Family followed them, as well as several old friends and neighbors who now live in the same neighborhood.
Bryan worked for Mothers Against Drunk Driving for seven years as the national vice president of field relations. In 2016, he decided to leave the job’s hectic travel schedule in favor of a more community-oriented position as the chief community development officer with Williamson Inc.
Heather’s passion for photography, fed by her grandfather’s work as a photographer, led her to create her photography business, HBD Photography, which allowed her to stay home with the kids.
Once their son, Wyatt, was in kindergarten, Heather found her current role with Visit Franklin as the tourism entity’s community engagement and program manager. She still manages to find time to play an active role with the PTO at their kids’ school.
“I work on the business side of the community and she works on the tourism side, and those two are complementary to each other, but it’s also the first time that we’ve worked in the same space,” Bryan said.
They strive to leave a positive legacy. “We care about this community so much, we want to invest in it,” Heather said.
The secret to their successful marriage, going on 17 years, has been embracing and working through the difficult times while fostering a community of supportive friends.
“I think if you have a good foundation, there are going to be highs and lows, but it doesn’t dip into the foundation if you build that,” Heather said.
Not only do they work hard on their own relationship, they try to encourage others. One example is a supper club they formed to encourage young couples who are newer to the community.
“We’ve had a lot in our story, so we came across all these young couples that were new to the community or not connected,” Bryan said. “They can come together, come into our house, no agenda, but we let them know that we’ve gone through a lot, and you are probably going to at some point, too.”
What do they love most about living in Franklin?
Heather appreciates seeing the natural rhythm of the seasons in the South as opposed to what Southern California offers. She also likes the importance placed on family and spending time with loved ones.
Bryan, getting ready to head out the door to play golf with his son on an unseasonably warm February day, agreed. “It’s the way life should be,” he said.