Meet Your Neighbors: Craig and Jeannette Turchi
Continuing our series of interviews with our Southern Gables neighbors, to help us get to know and appreciate each other. Craig and Jeannette invited me to talk with them in a beautifully landscaped private park with greenery all around, also known as their back yard. Interviewed by Bruce McDonald.
Bruce: I got your names from Ed and Carolyn Wolfrum after meeting them a few weeks ago. I’m looking forward to getting to know you. First off, how long have you lived in Southern Gables?
Jeannette: Since 1998. We moved here from Florida, after a year there, to come here for Craig’s work. We had lived in Colorado before, and were glad for the opportunity to come back. Craig is from Texas and I’m from Kentucky, but this is home now. Our two children were born in Colorado before the Florida move and they grew up here in Southern Gables. Craig: We met in North Carolina while I was at NC State getting a PhD as a chemical engineer. We were involved with a Sunday School program at church and met through that. Jeannette didn’t know anything about “the square states” so she had to take a leap of faith when I asked her to move out here. I work for the National Renewable Energy Lab, leading a research group for solar thermal and geothermal energy. For that kind of work, Colorado is the place to be.
Texas, Kentucky, North Carolina, Colorado, Florida and back — quite a journey! What brought you to Southern Gables? Just driving around, looking, Lakewood seemed so friendly and convenient, and when we found this house for sale it was a perfect fit. Being close to the school was a big draw. It was a tremendous advantage living so close to Green Gables when the kids were little. I don’t know what it would have been like if we’d had to get them farther than across the street! We thought we’d live here until the kids were through school, and then move on to a more permanent home. Now with 23 years in, this has turned out to be that perfect place for us.
What are some things you like about the Southern Gables community? Well, in starting with the school, we remember the community dinners that used to be put on by the PTA. Those were so much fun and we got to meet a lot of people — like with the gatherings done more recently by the Neighborhood Association. Jeannette: Then too, thinking of the PTA connection, you might say I spent years as a “professional volunteer.” Green Gables was so great for the kids and I was in the thick of it with all the things that parents do — the PTA, after-school programs, fundraising, science and reading programs. My college major was electrical engineering, and I’ve always been interested in the sciences. Craig: And there were the science fairs. Those were fun. Jeannette was the organizer for a few years and I was one of her resources with my work connections. I was involved with judging the projects, and it was really really fun and surprising seeing what the kids could do.
With all this science business, please tell us about what kind of work you do. Jeannette: The science fairs were so much fun that for a few years I worked for “Mad Science,” teaching an after-school science program at schools around the metro area. Aside from “Mad Science,” I worked at the Lakewood Heritage Center for a time. That was really great, and I learned so much about the Lakewood area. Now my work life is centered around our church, Phillips United Methodist Church. I started with a children’s choir on a volunteer basis, and [CT1] it evolved into a staff position. Now, I am in charge of the music program, including children’s and adults’ choir. We have a handbell choir, and now we even have a band, with all kinds of instruments. Since churches — and especially choirs — have been pretty much shut down for most of the past year and a half, that has been difficult. I had to learn a lot of new things and I’ve gotten very good at the technical aspects of recording services and performances and doing the editing and sound mixing for online services. Craig: Jeannette’s editing skills have come in handy for me since my work has gone entirely remote too. I have to give presentations for scientific symposia and professional development conferences, and now instead of having to start over each time something needs a fix I just give it to my live-in editor.
What is the most neighborly experience you’ve had in Southern Gables? Jeannette: Oh, I have one! There was a time when we were on vacation and left our dog with a friend. She managed to get away, and was headed for Hampden Avenue when someone found her and brought her home, using our address on her tag. Of course no one was home, but our neighbor across the street saw her in the car and came over. Although she didn’t know where we had arranged for dogsitting she called around among our friends until she found out. That’s my impression of this neighborhood, that people look out for each other like in a small town. Craig: Yes, like a small town. That’s the feeling. The school, Magill’s Ice Cream, friendly neighbors helping each other, the community events… that’s all a part of it.
How about hobbies and recreation? Craig: We really like outdoor activities. Our son’s experiences in the Boy Scouts probably led the way into our full appreciation of the Colorado lifestyle. We love camping, hiking, canoeing, kayaking. And biking! That’s a big one. We have a tandem bike that we ride all over. One favorite thing we’ve done twice now, was to go on tandem bike excursions in England. Very well organized, beautiful countryside, so much fun. Many opportunities to stop for tea! The people we’ve met have been so interesting. Jeannette: I enjoy gardening as well, and we’ve both put a lot of effort into making the yard look nice with minimal use of water. I am the groundskeeper and Craig helps… sometimes. On the side of the house, we have a garden that I’m proud of, especially because it needs no watering at all.
In wrapping up, I’d like to ask if you can give us a saying or quote that’s meaningful to you. Jeannette? “The hands of the Almighty are oftentimes found at the end of our own arms.”
And Craig? I think it’s a Native American saying, and it comes to mind in connection with my work in renewable energy. “We don’t inherit the earth from our ancestors. We borrow it from our children.”
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to nominate a candidate for the “Meet Your Neighbor” series.