Meet Your Neighbor: Jo Ann Greeb

Meet Your Neighbor: Jo Ann Greeb Southern Gables Neighborhood Association

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

Jo Ann, I’d like to start by asking, are you originally from Colorado?  No, not originally. I grew up in Wisconsin. My parents had taken a vacation trip out west and I remember seeing slides from that trip. It made quite an impression. Everything was so beautiful! I remember thinking I’d like to go there someday. Then after graduation and starting work something reminded me of that old wish. I was working for the phone company and I showed those old slides to a girlfriend. She loved it too so the both of us decided to go for a job transfer, still staying with the company, and come out to Colorado.

Meet Your Neighbor: Jo Ann GreebSo it was the beauty of Colorado that attracted you? Yes, and I haven’t been disappointed. Loved it from the start. When we came out it was in the summer but there was still snow in the mountains. My friend and I took pictures of ourselves in swimsuits in the snow, to send back and make our friends jealous. We went to work in our familiar jobs right away without missing a beat. It was such an exciting time — we had an apartment within sight of the gold dome of the Capitol and life was beautiful.

What brought you to our neighborhood here in Southern Gables?  Well, during that time living downtown I met this guy — a cute bartender who worked at Eastway Inn not far from where we lived. I was there with a friend and she bet me a beer that I wouldn’t ask him to dance. Well, I’m a Wisconsin girl! That dance turned out to have a long-lasting effect. Fred and I married, and this neighborhood was very conveniently located, just one stoplight between here and his job at Martin. I worked with Mountain Bell, US West, and whatever other changes they went through over the years — they’re CenturyLink now of course —  and wherever I worked in their various locations, being in Lakewood was not too far for my work commute as well.

Are you an original Southern Gables homeowner? That is, was your house new when you moved here?  We first had a house on South Cape Way, just off Jewell, and it had been there a while when we bought it. Then before long we had the opportunity to buy a vacant lot and have this home designed and built for us. That was in 1975. The house next door was already there, and some others up and down the lane, but the last open lots weren’t filled in for a few more years.

Tell us about some of your favorite memories with neighbors. We always enjoyed lots of social activities with our neighbors. We would have barbecues, dinners, celebrate birthdays and so on. We’d get a group together to go and see the ice sculptures up in Breckenridge. And fish! A lot of us raised Koi. It was a popular thing for a long time. The guys would have to go up to Boulder for supplies, and everybody had these elaborate Koi ponds. It took a lot of work, maintaining those ponds. People took pride in keeping the fish healthy. We’d call each other if someone spotted the birds circling. You’d have to protect the pond with a net over it. What kind of birds?  Herons, big white herons. Wow, we don’t see anything like that around here these days. Well, you don’t have any fish!

OK then, how about any other hobbies or interests?  Travel. Fred retired a year before I did, and we were both so eager to get going and see the world that I took an early retirement so we could go places. The world has so many things to experience, and I feel lucky that we were able to go and see some of it. I loved Iceland with its gorgeous waterfalls. We went all over Europe — Germany, France, Ireland, England. We saw homes with bullet holes and damage from the war, where families had been through such terrible things. In France, the American Cemetery on the Normandy Coast. So touching. Norway, Denmark, Finland. We went to Vladivostok, the big port in Russia. In Japan we toured several cities, Osaka and inland from there. Cruises too. We took cruises to Alaska, the Mediterranean. There’s so much to see and experience. I hope we’ll all be able to travel freely again in the future.

Don’t we all!  That and our neighborhood activities, like the Neighborhood Night Out and the monthly luncheons we’ve enjoyed in the past. Thank you for speaking with us, and letting us get to know you a little better. 

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


Meet Your Neighbor: Vic Moss

Meet Your Neighbor: Vic Moss Southern Gables Neighborhood Association

Continuing our series of interviews with our Southern Gables neighbors, to help us get to know and appreciate each other. Vic Moss runs Moss Photography and his work keeps him on the leading edge of changing technologies.  Interviewed by Bruce McDonald.

How long have you lived in Southern Gables?  Twenty-five years. The main reason for choosing this area when we moved here in the mid-1990s was the schools. The excellent reputation of the district and Green Gables Elementary in particular was a big draw. The Southern Gables neighborhood was attractive and well-kept. Keith Grebe, the Realtor who found it for us, was sold on it himself and when we moved here he became a neighbor as well.

Southern Gables neighbor Vic MossWhat are a few things that you like the most about the Southern Gables community?  The schools, as I mentioned; our kids went through Green Gables, Carmody Middle, and Bear Creek High. Then there’s the community feel of the neighborhood. The friendly waves as our neighbors drive by. I also like the convenient location, how accessible the rest of Denver is from our neighborhood.

Do you have a favorite memory with your Southern Gables neighbors?  Walking to school with the kids, and being active at Green Gables Elementary. I got involved with the PTA — served as President for a time — and that deepened my sense of community connection.

What is the most neighborly experience you’ve had in our neighborhood?  This is the kind of place where neighbors pitch in to shovel each other’s sidewalks, and being on either end of that is a pretty good feeling. Two of our neighbors put our fence back up after it was blown down while we were on vacation a few years ago. You don’t get that just anywhere. The sense of community ties into a favorite saying of mine, “It’s virtually impossible for one person to change the world, but it’s remarkably simple to change the world of one person.” One person at a time.

What are your hobbies?  Drones and photography. More than hobbies, actually; those two “hobbies” are really my full-time work. I do architectural photography as a business. Like the ideal job should be, it’s something I love to do. I take a lot of pride in the results I achieve for clients. For aerial shots, before the advent of drones I spent a lot of time in the passenger seat of a Cessna 172 holding my camera out the window. Glad those days are over. Now I can fly a photography drone and get shots that would not have been possible from an aircraft.

So it seems this newer technology has led you into a new field; rather than being a passenger you have to be the pilot. Has that been difficult? It was hard at first, but as it became more natural it has really expanded my horizons. I see what you did there.  Yes, but seriously, it has revolutionized my life. Of necessity, I’ve gotten involved with the rapidly-evolving field of regulations governing drones. I recently worked with the FAA and the City of Lakewood to get three parks opened for recreational drone flying, where otherwise they would be under the same restrictions that were imposed years ago for radio-controlled airplanes. I am a part owner of a drone school where we teach people about the rules and flying safely, and I am a volunteer on the FAA Safety Team. Most recently, I was appointed by the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation to the FAA’s Drone Advisory Committee. Since I’ve been involved with safety education for a good while, this is a good opportunity to put my experience to work. I have found that people want to be smart about it, and fly safe.

Even though the drone aspect has come to dominate aerial work, I do a lot of commercial and industrial work on the ground as well as in the air. I’m still a photographer first.

Is there anything else you want us to know about you?  We’ve loved living here, and are blessed to have been able to raise our family here. And if you see any drones flying over Green Gables, it’s probably mine. So don’t worry about it.


Meet Your Neighbors: Harry and Judi Puncec

Meet Your Neighbors: Harry and Judi PuncecSouthern Gables Neighborhood Association

Continuing our series of interviews with our Southern Gables neighbors, to help us get to know and appreciate each other. Last week we read what it was like when our neighborhood was a busy construction zone out in the country. Now we would like you to get better acquainted with our neighbors Harry and Judi.  Interviewed by Bruce McDonald.

Bruce: Harry, I recall the first question that came to mind when we first met, after having seen your name in connection with Neighborhood Association activities, was how to pronounce Puncec.

Harry: It’s like Punchek. That’s the first part of a longer name, and the story is told that the shortening was typical of what happened with a lot of names at Ellis Island when my grandparents came over.

I understand you were one of the original owners in Southern Gables, so you’ve been here since, when, 1967?  Yes, and 1967 was before there was a place called Lakewood.

How did you come to choose the Southern Gables neighborhood? In September of 1966 we married, moved in with Judi’s Grandmother, Rosie, to plan our future and began setting aside money for a home of our own — once we decided where and what it was to be. Wood Brothers were building on raw, vacant land west of Wadsworth Blvd. and we clicked with agent Chuck Oschner when visiting the show homes. They called the development Southern Gables and it had the advantage of convenience to my job at the Denver Federal Center, and one model, the Vicksburg, was actually within reach at $18,400. I qualified for a no-down-payment GI Mortgage from my three years in the Army so we swallowed hard and took out a 6% home loan.

Wood Bros. Sold sign, Southern Gables, Harry and Judi PuncecBy the summer of ’67 our house was about built and we began our great adventure, deeply in debt and yet excited by what we saw about us. The neighbors were mostly young with small children and an elementary school was being finished nearby which proved to be the gem it still is today.

Judi: In 1969 our unincorporated area voted to form a city, and so we were part of the birth of the new city of Lakewood. Our neighborhood was growing up around us and we were along for the ride. Over the first decade here we were blessed with two kids and Harry was able to work all the overtime he could handle, and all that I could bear.

You mentioned our gem of a school, Green Gables Elementary; can you tell us more about your kids’ school experiences over the years? 

Our kids attended the trifecta of Southern Gables schools: Green Gables ES, Carmody MS, and Bear Creek HS. The adventure that marked our experiences with Green Gables ES was the experiment with year-around school. Due to an enrollment of more than the school could handle it was decided to split the student body into three groups, or Tracks A, B, and C as they called it. This kept the school open all year with two-thirds of the total student body in the school at any given time. It avoided students going just half a day. Each track would attend for just over four months and be off for a month and a half and then do it again. What made it the subject of much discussion was when your child had his break. I remember that Track B had their “vacations” in the spring and fall, and that’s what we optioned for our kids.

Getting it organized was not easy. Parents were required to sign up for what track they wanted. A lot of parents favored Track C, the traditional summer vacation and Christmas break schedule so when time came to register the line formed early and quickly grew long. Many parents even spent the night before registration camping out at the school. It became obvious that something was happening and soon a local TV station’s remote truck, cameramen and a reporter arrived. It became big news, appearing on the local station that evening.

We’re all glad that was handled, though schools have other challenges now. Thinking of other changes over the years, you’re not still in the house you described last week, right? How did that come about? 

Harry: By 1977 the mortgage payment was manageable and the kids were taking up more room all the time. There was only one answer, move, and so we did, a whole three blocks from Yarrow to the Georgetown model on Ammons — and here we reside.

Judi: Over the decades people moved away, new folks moved in, and we discovered gray hair while making new friends. The greatest discovery we made over those years was what a great place Southern Gables is, filled with good people looking out for each other. Once during a particularly heavy snowstorm a bunch of homeowners came out to shovel my way home after I got stuck and snow bound at the corner. They were an invaluable snow shoveling brigade.

What kinds of things come to mind in connection with big changes over the years?

Harry: In the early 70s a vacant lot that was sitting idle on Evans and Wadsworth was reported to be the new home of Luby Chevrolet. We had been promised it was intended for more benign purposes and the neighborhood organized to fight it. I was involved with the Neighborhood Association that was formed for that purpose. We lost but in the end we did extract concessions like a berm along Evans, no outdoor loudspeakers, off-loading of new cars away from neighborhood traffic, and so on. The dealership — now Emich of course — has proved to be a good neighbor.

That must have been a good feeling, and Emich is now one of our valued Local Business Supporters. Any other special memories over the years?  Across Wadsworth sat Green Gables Country Club that added a park-like expanse to the area, and on the 4th of July they had a fireworks show which we enjoyed for years until the neighborhood trees grew too tall. Our son even earned money caddying over there. They too were good neighbors and it was sad to see them depart.

Final thoughts, advice?  Ours is a quiet neighborhood but close to all the medical, entertainment, parks and retail needs of a family, a calm oasis nestled in a metropolitan area that has grown beyond us, west to the foothills and Green Mountain, and many miles to the south. We’ve seen the development mature and fulfill all the promises made by the Wood Brothers.

We’re glad that people keep on being good to one another here in Southern Gables, and we hope that will continue as time goes on.