Meet Your Neighbors: Jim and Kathy Davis

Meet Your Neighbors: Jim and Kathy DavisSouthern Gables Neighborhood Association

Interviewed by Christy Cerrone.

Continuing our series of interviews with our Southern Gables neighbors, to help us get to know and appreciate each other. 

The Christmas House! It’s that time of year, and surely you’ve seen it all lit up for the holidays. This is a special treat, to learn about the folks who make that happen. They are Kathy and Jim Davis. Kathy tells us that Jim goes by  “Davis” except for their granddaughters who know him as “Opa.”

Some say the Davises might be fans of the Broncos.

Kathy, How long have you lived in Southern Gables?  41 years.  We bought a 10 year old fixer upper, my favorite kind of house!

What are a few things you like most about Southern Gables?  Neighbors who help move things and lend and borrow tools. A special neighbor realized that I couldn’t control a post hole digger, so he helped Davis dig 30+post holes. We still owe him. Now we are getting too old and have to hire help. Our first house was in Park Hill under the landing pattern of Stapleton Airport.  We love the silence here, even when Garrison is busy.

Favorite memory with Southern Gables Neighbors?  We had an open house for our 25th Anniversary on December 12, 1995. I was surprised how many neighbors joined us, especially since I asked them to bring their own drinks.  Unfortunately, half of them have moved on. On December 12th this year we will have our 50th anniversary. No parties this year.

What is the most neighborly experience you have had or seen in Southern Gables?  This happened this summer.  I watched my 11 year old granddaughter and she thought this was great fun.  Neighbors a few houses down were trying to inflate their hot air balloon to check for leaks. The kids were inside to add weight and had to scramble out when the winds came up.  I stood 3 houses away and hoped my granddaughter didn’t take off.  I was impressed how many neighbors were there to help.

Tell us a little about the special mailbox you have in front of your house.  I make dollhouses.  I am on my 12th right now.  I decided I needed a fun mailbox.  It is a copy of our house and has a sunroom to match, with some breakage and a crooked post.  Unfortunately, these are not for sale anymore.  Still contemplating how to fix it.  Not in January!

Your house is known for its decorations at Christmastime. It’s a neighborhood institution. Tell us about this. It started with a Lamaze couple who wanted help.  They gave me 2 strands of lights and a huge project was born.  The 6 years I worked at St. Nick’s store did not help.  We start in the 2nd week of November if the weather is tolerable. We have a pulldown ladder where most lights and decorations live. Years ago a neighbor asked if we would turn on our lights on Thanksgiving so they would have something to do with their guests. I don’t think they still live there, but it gives us a schedule to work toward.

What are your hobbies?   Bonsai, dollhouses, collecting, and making life-size Father Christmases.  Davis’s hobbies are 3-wheel motorcycles.

Favorite Quote?  Ob-La-De say the Old Folks.

Anything else you want us know about you?  Davis taught science at Bear Creek High School for two years, then moved to Green Mountain when it opened.  He was the neighborhood Chemistry tutor.

I was a history major and used to spout historical facts. I’m forgetting them now. I was a substitute for around 20 years. I taught Lamaze classes until Kaiser did their own. Volunteered for Denver Hospice for 15 years until the new policy was “you CAN’T contact your patients.”  We have our granddaughters 4 days a week now, after school and on vacations.

To nominate a candidate for the “Meet Your Neighbor” series, contact

Meet Your Neighbors: Frank & Leta Bontrager

Meet Your Neighbors: Frank & Leta BontragerSouthern Gables Neighborhood Association

Interviewed by Christy Cerrone.

Continuing our series of interviews with our Southern Gables neighbors, to help us get to know and appreciate each other. If you know a neighbor you’d like to have featured, contact Christy, information below.

How long have you lived in Southern Gables?  We moved from Harvey Park in southwest Denver to Southern Gables in 1987, thirty-three years ago. Our two boys, Stephan and Jeff, attended Green Gables Elementary, Carmody, and Bear Creek High School.

What are a few things that you like the most about the Southern Gables community?  We like the friendliness of neighbors and the activities of the Southern Gables Neighborhood Association.

Do you have a favorite memory with your Southern Gables neighbors?  We started a block party event by inviting our block to our deck for an 80th birthday party for an older neighbor. We have tried to continue having this annual barbeque/potluck event every fall.

What is the most neighborly experience you’ve had or seen in our neighborhood?  The annual leaf drive in November has really been successful. [Ed. note: That’s tomorrow! Saturday November 7.] Seeing so many volunteers working together to recycle leaves instead of all of the bags going to a landfill has been a great sustainability activity. The willingness of neighborhood volunteers really is remarkable in Southern Gables!

Tell us a little bit about how both of you have been involved in the neighborhood.  

The Southern Gables neighborhood entrance sign at the corner of Estes and Jewell has been a fulfilling project for me, (Frank). I was always concerned about all of the ugly weeds that were in that plot which was seldom mowed by the Agricultural Ditch Company. I mowed the weeds a number of times until I became a member of the Southern Gables Neighborhood Association in 2012. I suggested that we do something by purchasing a sign and landscaping to improve the appearance of that corner. Our association got the ball rolling, especially with Sam Sotiros, who was president at that time. He and Stanton La Breche made a number of contacts with the ditch company and the city of Lakewood to get approval for our idea. The next step was to get the plot leveled with some neighborhood volunteers and then hiring a Southern Gables landscaper, Nju Huynh, to put down a weed barrier and a layer of colored rocks. The flagstone rock sign was ordered with engraving and installed by a group of volunteers in 2013. I then purchased the perennials, shrubs, and small blue spruce trees and again several volunteers helped plant them. Since the vegetation needs watering during the hot summer months, we get volunteers to sign up using an online “SignUpGenius” schedule to assist in this task. This project could not have happened without the cooperation and willingness of neighborhood volunteers!

Leta continues to teach piano students in our neighborhood and beyond. During this COVID-19 situation she has been teaching virtually since March. She enjoys teaching all ages, including adults. Leta was an elementary music teacher in the Littleton Public Schools, taught music in preschool through 4th grade at Montview Presbyterian Church Conservatory, and several other private schools. She has been very involved in piano accompanying at our church and school related events.

What are your hobbies or interests?  I enjoy gardening, bike riding, home improvement projects, fishing, backyard bird watching, reading, and of course the neighborhood projects I mentioned. We are both involved with our church and volunteering with Family Promise, a program for homeless families. We enjoy the adventure of traveling to new places, visiting our five-year-old granddaughter in Pittsburgh, AND attending live theater and classical music concerts.

Favorite saying:  “Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.”

Contact to nominate a candidate for the “Meet Your Neighbor” series. 

Meet Your Neighbor: Sam Sotiros

Meet Your Neighbor: Sam SotirosSouthern Gables Neighborhood Association

Interviewed by Christy Cerrone.

Continuing our series of interviews with our Southern Gables neighbors, to help us get to know and appreciate each other. If you know a neighbor you’d like to have featured, contact Christy, information below.

How long have you lived in Southern Gables?  Off and on for roughly 50 years.  My parents had our home built in 1966 and I bought it from them 27 years ago.

What are a few things that you like the most about the Southern Gables community?  After graduating from college, I lived in various towns and cities in Colorado and California.  I realized that it was hard to beat Southern Gables as a place to raise a family.   Safe, great neighbors, well maintained, lots of residents who care about the community, a centralized elementary school, and plenty of nearby shopping and entertainment.  Also, downtown and the mountains are both only 15 minutes away.

Do you have a favorite memory with your Southern Gables neighbors?  Because I grew up in this neighborhood, I have an endless supply of great memories, so choosing only one is very difficult.  Therefore, here are my top two:  First, Halloween nights when the entire neighborhood is filled with excitement and joy and you get a chance to see friends and neighbors that you haven’t seen for a year.  Next, just recently this past summer while on a walk throughout the neighborhood with my wife, Janet, feeling proud to see all of our neighbors waiting outside their homes to watch the jets fly over Colorado that would salute our heroes.

What is the most neighborly experience you’ve had or seen in our neighborhood?  The neighborhood picnics, dumpster days, leaf collection days and Neighborhood Night Out appreciation celebrations are all wonderful neighborly experiences.  As for one event that stands out in particular, roughly 10 or 15 years ago we had a huge snowstorm that dumped a few feet of snow on us over a couple of days.  It was truly amazing to see how many of my neighbors pitched in helping each other shovel snow, and most notably, helping those residents who were unable to shovel their own driveways or walks.  It was back-breaking work, but everyone pitched in and turned the disaster into a good time.

Please let us know about the work you’ve done in the neighborhood. 

Literally, I worked in the neighborhood for five years as a youth — one year delivering the weekly Lakewood Sentinel and four years delivering the Denver Post.  Routes that I covered spanned from Wadsworth all the way up to Estes.  I got to know a lot of residents during that time, and not surprisingly, quite a few are still here.

More recently, I served on the Neighborhood Association’s board as Treasurer for eight years, and President for two.  It was a pleasure to work for our community and help ensure that Southern Gables remained a great place to live. It gives me great satisfaction to know that I was involved in making certain that the new development across Wadsworth addressed our residents concerns — traffic flow, additional safety set-backs and landscaping along Wadsworth, and restriction of overly tall lighting that would not meet the City of Lakewood’s code, but was acceptable to Jefferson County.  Also, I am happy to have helped complete the landscaping & entry sign project at the corner of Jewell and Estes.

Will you let us know a little bit about your business, which we know is located here in Southern Gables?  For the past 19 years, I have operated a local accounting firm, Sotiros & Sotiros, LLC, Certified Public Accountants, along with my brother Richard.  Currently, we are located on the corner of Wadsworth & Morrison Road.  The business has allowed me to service small businesses and area residents with their tax and accounting needs.

What are your hobbies?  I work hard and I like to play hard, so, I have a number of hobbies.  Most notably fishing, hunting, golfing, skiing, camping, hiking and reading.

What is your favorite quote or saying?  Carpe Diem.

Is there anything else you want us to know about you?  I have a passion for wildlife and the outdoors.  For several years, I was a board member and president of the non-profit, Wild Bird Rescue and Rehab, which can always use volunteers and donations.  I particularly enjoy bird watching, and as such, we have several bird feeders in our backyard.  Over the years, I have logged approximately 40 different bird species feeding or passing through our yard.  My favorite: Western Tanagers that only show up for a few days in May.

Contact to nominate a candidate for the “Meet Your Neighbor” series.