On The Same Path
By Debbie Lagestee • Photos by Valerie & Ed Photography
Not many married couples can say they’ve known each other their entire lives. Dante and Josette Pelzer can, and they can one-up that. Their mothers were friends through their church and were pregnant at the same time. So technically they were hanging out together before they were born. Although they grew up in Charleston they were in different parts of town, Dante in North Charleston, and Josette on James Island. Their lives followed the same parallel, always keeping in touch through church and youth group events. They became especially close while attending the University of South Carolina. Dante was a year ahead of Josette, so he was instrumental in helping her navigate the campus as a freshman. Dante became a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. and Josette became a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. while in college. They both earned their undergraduate and master’s degrees at USC. Soon after, they moved to Charlotte, NC to pursue their careers. Josette was working at the accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers as a CPA, while Dante worked at Winthrop University as a residence hall coordinator and program director for multicultural student life.
Photos by Chris & Cami Photography LLC
While living in Charlotte, Dante and Josette were married at The Citadel. Although they have no affiliation there, they love the beauty of the chapel on campus. Eventually, they left Charlotte and moved to Tallahassee, FL to attend Florida State University in pursuit of their respective Ph.Ds. Dante has a Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration and Josette has a Ph.D. in Accounting. Fortunately for them, an Accounting Professor position opened at the College of Charleston just as Josette was graduating in 2016. They moved back to their hometown of Charleston so Josette could accept the position. She has been teaching there ever since. Dante continued to work on his dissertation and finished his program remotely and graduated in 2017. He is now the Assistant Director for Student Diversity at MUSC.
The Pelzers have 2 children, Logan is 5 years old and Cameron is 2 years old. Pre-pandemic, Logan was in ballet through the Cannon Street YMCA. Cameron also loves to dance but he has no formal training and refers to it as ‘wiggle-wiggle’. Both kids love dramatic play. “We’ve had thousands of pretend meals from their play kitchen ‘The Pelzer Café’. Although the service is terrible (food never comes out or they never have what you ask for), the servers are cute, so we keep coming back!”, says Josette. In recent months Logan’s reading skills have really accelerated, which has been exciting as she now reads to Cameron. They both love it! Logan also loves experiments and figuring out how things work. She recently started a rock collection, with the geodes being her favorite, because once smashed it exposes the crystals inside.
Dante is an avid Florida State football fan. During their early years of dating, Saturdays were spent watching games. He taught Josette a lot about football and she quickly learned the seriousness of being a fan and that games required undivided attention! They were also both involved in their sorority and fraternity. Dante and his fraternity brothers loved to step, in fact to this day Dante is somewhat of a legend.
When the brothers get together at an event, Dante still shows off his moves! Dante and Josette both enjoy running; Dante has completed a marathon and Josette has run a half-marathon. In his free time, Dante dabbles in graphic design which goes hand in hand with Josette’s hobby of photography. Together they enjoy designing and creating their kids’ valentine’s, birthday invitations, and family Christmas cards.
Josette has a huge passion for decorating for the holidays and holiday traditions. She loves the anticipation of the whole family being together sharing traditions. Thanksgiving always includes fried turkey accompanied by the family favorite, sweet potato pie. Josette’s mom upholds the tradition year after year, as she bakes numerous pies for the entire family to enjoy, it is a must-have and a huge part of their holiday. Thanksgiving in their home would not be complete without Sour Cream Nut Cake for dessert. Christmastime brings its own set of traditions. In the Pelzer household, they begin playing Christmas music right after Halloween. While Josette began this tradition, the whole family has embraced the idea. It brings them joy and puts them in the mood for the upcoming holidays. They enjoy baking cookies, decorating their home, and getting together on Christmas Eve. Each person says what they are thankful for that year. One of their favorite memories was in December 2017 when they closed on their home in Carolina Bay on December 23. “We could have waited to move in until after the holidays, but my love for Christmas and all things family would just not allow it. While pregnant with Cameron, we (along with my parents, sister, brother-in-law, and nieces) moved and unpacked everything in just two days. We had the Christmas tree up and presents wrapped just in time to celebrate my favorite holiday in my favorite place, at home with family”, said Josette. Their family motto is ‘love like there’s no tomorrow’. Holidays allow them to live out their motto and show how they feel about each other.
Dante and Josette love to travel. Before having children, they traveled abroad with a group of couples. They visited England, France, Italy, the Dominican Republic, and they spent their honeymoon in Hawaii. Future vacation ideas are Greece and Australia. Josette has always wanted to attend the Olympics, and in 2028 they will be held in Los Angeles, a perfect opportunity for a family trip.
Dante and Josette agree moving into Carolina Bay is one of the best decisions they have ever made. They are close to work, Dante’s mom in Goose Creek, and Josette’s parents on James Island. They like living in a large community with plenty of amenities yet are still able to build community in a meaningful way. Josette explains, “Our immediate neighbors are of all ages and backgrounds which has been nice. Having the wisdom of our retiree neighbors is invaluable and being able to talk about school and parenting with our neighbors that have children has been really great too. We have met some of the most giving and caring people since we’ve lived here.” Their moms’ crossing paths brought them together years ago, and now they’ll continue down the path of life together.