Meet Your Neighbors: Jim and Kathy Davis

Meet Your Neighbors: Jim and Kathy Davis

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 Bontrager

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.