Meet Your Neighbor: Roger Hanlon
Continuing our occasional series of stories on getting to know and appreciate our neighbors. This week we meet a man you probably have seen on your walks around the neighborhood, dressed more comfortably than you thought possible. I talked with Roger Hanlon on the sunny deck of his home overlooking a park. He calls it a back yard, but really… a park. Interview by Bruce McDonald.
Bruce: Well, we always like to start off by asking how long you’ve lived here in Southern Gables, and how you came to choose our neighborhood.
Roger: If I go back to when we found the house and decided to move here, that would be January of 2019. Then in February I became the one-man wrecking crew. Eventually, only the foundation, framing and roof remained. My wife Cindy was still in Idaho but working tirelessly on the design modifications and every imaginable detail of the home she visualized. We then hired a contractor during the early days of Covid-19 to do the rebuild. It was April 2021 when we finally moved in. So really that’s… going on three years. We feel that this move is permanent, our dream home in the greatest place either of us have ever lived. It just took a while to make it come true.
You’ve told me you didn’t grow up here in Colorado, so what brought you here? We were living in Idaho, and Cindy was coming here to visit family. I didn’t always come with her – we were both working – but it was pretty clear she loved it here. The weather was the big draw. On a sunny day like right now, even though we’ve had snow and it’s in the middle of winter it’s beautiful, and here we are drinking tea out on the deck. When the summer heat arrives we will simply move our outdoor activities onto the shaded front deck or under the trees down-slope.
The Colorado weather draws a lot of people, but how did you find Southern Gables? We had a list of qualities we wanted in a home. The Realtor we found to show us around made up a list of houses that she thought would fit. It was a pretty tough list, since what we wanted was pretty specific. She laughed when on top of all that we wanted to have a view of the mountains. She had us looking at houses all over. She threw this one in on a whim, thinking it would never do since it was in pretty rough shape. Cindy and I saw the possibilities and surprised her. We both feel that we could not have found a better place.
What are some things you like the most about Southern Gables? W e love the wide streets and sidewalks, buried utilities, the trees, the easy and convenient access to everything we need or desire, and the wildlife. We love seeing the raptors soaring in those big wide circles – and all kinds of birds in the trees. And Canada geese, sandhill cranes and white pelicans overhead in the spring and fall, flying in those giant formations headed to their summer ranges. Last summer a hummingbird built a nest and fledged two chicks only six feet from our front deck rail. And we’ve seen raccoons, squirrels, rabbits, coyotes and foxes… once I was kneeling while doing some planting and before standing I looked to my right where a fox was sitting watching me. I spoke to it softly and a few seconds later it circled around me, stopped, stretched, yawned, rolled out its tongue and then casually meandered away. However, the greatest thing about Southern Gables is the people. The more neighbors we meet the more convinced we are that this is a special place.
That back yard of yours is impressive. You’ve planted so much variety, and made paths with mulch and gravel. It really is like a park. I love working (actually puttering) down there, and just about any time you come by that’s where you’ll find me. It’s mostly for enjoyment and relaxation, with a little bit set aside for growing tomatoes and vegetables. The apple trees are really pretty when they blossom, and all the other trees when the leaves come out in all the shades of green. There’s a little patio down there, and an area where it feels as though you are out in the woods by yourself.
Your gardening keeps you pretty engaged in retirement. What kind of work did you do before you retired? My first job when in high school was in a funeral home, and then for a while in college I was a lifeguard. I spent a summer commercially shrimping in the Gulf of Mexico followed by three summers as a deckhand on ships that were doing seismic surveys for potential federal oil leases in the Baltimore Trench and as the tender for deep submersible research and recovery submarines. That took me all over: Atlantic City, Texas, the Bahamas, San Diego, Louisiana and Florida. Then I attended law school in Florida, followed by 44 years as an attorney in both private and public positions.
I’ve got to ask about the pajamas. We know you as the guy who always goes around in pajama bottoms. Is that a retirement thing? No, I started that long before I retired. I put on a pair of pajama bottoms once and realized I had never worn anything so comfortable. That was a big insight. It’s comfort, and given a choice I can choose to be comfortable. So, you wore them before retiring? When you were a lawyer…? No, no, I didn’t wear them to work. I wore the Crocs, though. At least my feet could be comfortable.
No pajamas on the job. No wonder you had to retire! Anything else we should know? I’ve recently gotten involved with Sustainable Southern Gables, and I’m very interested in what we can do to maintain a reasonable relationship with our environment. For three summers I have done volunteer work in the maintenance and operations division at Denver Botanic Garden’s Chatfield Farms, primarily infrastructure including underground utilities, a bridge rail, reinforcing a pergola and building construction and maintenance, where sustainability is a goal.
We’re glad you found your way here to Southern Gables. Thanks for letting us get to know “the pajama guy” a little better.