He’s 10,000 miles from hometown, but he’s home
March 8, 2013
William Broome paid a high price to come to America with his wife and their two small children. Moving 10,000 miles in 2009 from his hometown near Durban, South Africa, Broome has started over in Park City.
The decision to leave his homeland well past midlife didn’t come easily. "My parents are there, my wife’s family, my home, my career, my whole life," he says. Nevertheless, Broome felt it was time to leave. When his wife, Debbie, drew a green card in the annual U.S. State Department lottery, the opportunity was irresistible. He says Park City was a "no-brainer."
Has it been worth it? "Absolutely," declares Broome. "I had to do it for the sake of my children. It was a tough time to leave so much behind and start life over, especially during the recession. But the crime rate in South Africa had skyrocketed. It just wasn’t safe to bring up children there anymore. Park City is the antithesis of that. No crime, no grime," he grins.
Once here, Broome wasted no time. "We bought a house and a business here and we haven’t looked back," he says.
The Broomes own and operate the bustling Leger’s Deli at Kimball Junction, where lunching locals and visitors alike line up for tasty sandwiches and first-rate customer service. "Debbie and I work there every day. We greet each regular customer by name as they come through the door. We have a passion to do things right," says Broome.
There’s a twist here. For Broome, coming to Park City was like seeing an old friend after many years. He spent a couple of winters here more than 25 years ago. In 1986, fresh out of college and with a law degree, he decided to travel "for a couple of weeks" before starting his legal practice in South Africa. After arriving in New York from London, Broome boarded a westbound Greyhound for Los Angeles. He spent the summer there, then traveled up Highway One to San Francisco and turned east on Interstate 80. Park City was in his sights.
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His younger brother, Michael, had recently discovered the ski town. "I fell instantly in love with the town and ended up spending the winter here learning to ski. Michael is still here today," says Broome.
"A few weeks" of travel became almost four years. Broome spent winters in Park City, crisscrossed the United States and traveled across Europe and Australia before returning to Durban.
Back home in South Africa, Broome stepped seamlessly into his new profession as a lawyer. It was expected of him. He’s fourth generation, after all. His father, grandfather and great-grandfather were all lawyers and all became judges. Broome seemed destined to travel the same road.
Growing up in the small seaside town of Umhlanga Rocks, just north of Durban, Broome enjoyed surfing, snorkeling, scuba diving and kayaking. He attended boarding schools, a South African tradition, from a young age and attended prestigious Hilton College from 1974 through 1977. Conscription was the law of the land and Broome enlisted in the South African Police Service in 1978. He began his four years of service as a constable and ended it as a sergeant in the criminal detective branch. He went on to enroll at the University of Natal, where he finished his law degree in 1986. He and Debbie married in 2003.
After his extended "sabbatical," Broome eased comfortably into his destined profession. He worked for the next 18 years at the law firm of Livingston Leandy Inc., moving steadily upward in the organization. His future was assured and he hoped for an eventual seat on the bench as a judge. But the fourth-generation appointment was not to be. In 2009, he made the difficult decision to leave.
"I still have mixed emotions about it. I do really miss the law, my clients, and my partners who I worked with for so many years," says Broome. "I often dream of still being in practice, but I also enjoy running my own business here in Park City and the thrill that goes with that. I work with and meet such great people every day. But South Africa is my birthplace, a beautiful country with a lovely climate. I do miss it sometimes."
Broome applied for and was chosen for the Park City Leadership program in 2011. "That was a great experience which I highly recommend. I learned so much from it and met so many amazing people. I’m a firm believer in networking, be it at a Chamber of Commerce function or at the No Name Saloon after work on a Friday afternoon."
The Broomes are looking forward to bringing up their children in Park City. Daughter Amy is seven, son Bryce is five. They are regular church-goers.
Exercise and fitness are very important to Broome. He played soccer, rugby and cricket throughout his school years and became an ultra-distance runner in his late 30s. Last summer he completed the Mountain Trails Triple Trail Challenge, which includes the torturous Jupiter Peak Steeplechase and the Mid-Mountain Marathon. "I really enjoy trail running but my passion now is mountain biking. I believe that having a healthy body leads to a healthy mind," he says.
Though Broome is 10,000 miles from his hometown, he’s definitely home in Park City. "We haven’t been back to South Africa since moving here but hope to someday. This is where our life is now. I fell in love with this town almost 30 years ago, and I still love it. It’s a real friendly place."
Steve Phillips is a Park City-based writer and actor. Send your profile comments and suggestions to him at email@example.com
Favorite activities: Mountain biking, trail running, attending summer concerts.
Favorite foods: Steak, seafood, omelets and whole-wheat veggie sandwiches.
Favorite authors/reading: John Grisham; magazines about running and biking; Kiplinger magazine.
Bucket list: Travel extensively around the United States. "I like to visit small towns, meet the people and find out why they live where they do."
Animal companions: Roxy, a one-year-old kitten from Furburbia.