Meet Your Neighbor: Erwin Bunzli
Continuing our series of interviews with our Southern Gables neighbors, to help us get to know and appreciate each other. I met Erwin in his Southern Gables home. His side yard was a wildflower garden, requiring minimum water and even after our recent heat spell, showing lots of color. Inside the house the back windows overlooked a lush arboretum, with a vegetable garden and sunflowers off to one side. We sat and visited at his kitchen table, under a Swiss cuckoo clock on the wall. Interviewed by Bruce McDonald.
Bruce: When I interviewed your friends Craig and Jeannette Turchi and they were telling me about their camping and canoeing trips, they mentioned a neighbor named Erwin Boonzley. I couldn’t quite place the name. Then they said he was active with Neighborhood Association. “Oh! Erwin! Of course, Erwin Bunzli! I know him! So that’s how you pronounce his name? Sure, I know Erwin.” Not like bun, more like boon. So now we know how to say your name.
Erwin: Yes, that’s the way with the Swiss pronunciation. I was raised in Switzerland, near Schaffhausen on the Rhine River. I came to the U.S. for my job, as a technical representative of a Swiss company.
Switzerland to Colorado, seems a pretty natural change with the mountains and all… Well, it took a while. My work initially brought me to the New York-New Jersey area and I lived there for a time. It wasn’t exactly a Swiss village. That’s where Kathy and I met, and we got married. When my company announced an opening for a representative in Colorado, it took me about one second to decide that was where I wanted to go. Kathy was willing to try a new adventure, and so here we are. We lived in an apartment at first, then a townhome. It was so easy and we felt so welcome. When we found the townhome we asked the agent about making deposits, and proving qualifications and all that, there was nothing to it. It was just “Oh, don’t worry.” We moved in with no trouble, easy paperwork. We felt so welcome and accepted.
So how about Southern Gables? How long have you been here in the neighborhood? Since 1987. We liked the area because it was close and convenient, and I like the mature trees. The houses are not so close together as in the newer developments.
What are a few things that you like the most about the neighborhood here? Hm. The schools. Both of our boys were born after we moved here and the schools were so perfect for us. They went to Green Gables Elementary, Carmody Middle, and Bear Creek High. Ah, the Southern Gables Trifecta! Yes… Thinking back to the Elementary school days, we really loved the Principal, Mr. Freeman. He would stand at the door and greet every student by name, and he visited each classroom every day. The building is small and intimate, and has such a good feel to it. There is such a sense of community. That’s still there, the sense of community. Even as early as first grade the kids could walk to school and often there would be groups walking together, sometimes with a parent or several walking with them along the way and sometimes just kids by themselves, safe in the neighborhood.
Do you have a favorite memory with your Southern Gables neighbors? Those school days with all the kids growing up together, I would say. Meeting other parents at plays, performances, field days, book fairs. I remember some of the field trips, such as going to different places in Denver, visiting the Capitol. We would set up scavenger hunts around the city — to find a particular statue or landmark. There are a lot of favorite memories around that. Long-lasting friendships. We go hiking and canoeing with friends from those days, though all our kids are grown now.
Will you tell us about your hobbies? I can see the flowers are important to you, and the vegetable garden… Well, I like the flowers but that’s the result of Kathy’s work in the garden. And our son does the vegetable garden. I love biking and canoeing, as I mentioned before, and I do as much of that as I can arrange. I like skiing — Nordic skiing, of course, not standing in lines to ride on lifts with the crowds. I retired just last September so I’m still fitting into that new phase. I have started with something that is really interesting and pleasant for me, though: working as a part-time caretaker at a small resort up in Crested Butte, when the owners want to take a break. It’s a mountain-biking mecca, such a perfect place to be for the activities I love.
I know you are involved as a Board member with the Neighborhood Association too, and we appreciate what you do for the community in that… Yes, I’ve always enjoyed that connection. Volunteering time for that is such a small thing, and it makes a good difference in the neighborhood.
To wrap up, do you have a favorite quote or saying you can leave us with? “Mostly it is about how we treat each other.” We have a small piece of art hanging in our house with that sentence. I think it sums it up very well.
Indeed it does.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to nominate a candidate for the “Meet Your Neighbor” series.