Meet Your Neighbors: Joe Woelkers & Liza Patty

According to the official records of the Southern Gables Neighborhood Association, Liza Patty is the first tuba player to have been elected to the Association Board. She joined us in May 2022, filling the much-needed role of Secretary. Joe Woelkers, although he does not play the tuba, is a personal injury attorney who advocates for people who are injured. Interview by Bruce McDonald

Bruce: Liza and Joe, as you know I always ask, how long have you lived in Southern Gables, and what brought you here?

Liza: We bought the house in April 2021. That was a very busy time for the housing market. A crazy time. Showings were tightly scheduled, like three every 15 minutes. We had looked at over a hundred houses and had put in 25 offers, every one over the asking price. The process left us feeling so hopeless. We immediately felt the love in this house when we saw it, and even after losing so many we were extra disappointed to lose the bid. Then it seemed surreal when the buyer decided to back out. Joe: As for how we got here, Liza grew up in Lakewood, not far from here, went to Wheat Ridge High School. Her parents still live nearby and it’s good being close to them.

And Joe, are you a Colorado native too?  No, I grew up in Baltimore. I went to law school at Florida State, and then came to Colorado after graduation to check out the music scene. Colorado is the place for all the best bands. Liza went to FSU also, but she was a music major and we didn’t know each other then. So did you two meet through music?  No, it was through work, sort of. We both worked at the Sawaya Law Firm… Liza: We didn’t work together though. I saw him through a window across the courtyard, dancing in his office when no one was around. I found out who he was and started texting him about football, thought that might get us together. Ha! He didn’t care about football. Joe: I do now.

Wait, Liza, did Sawaya have a position for a music major?  They did for this one, after I finished paralegal school at Emory. That was after finding out how few jobs there are for tuba players. Oh, I applied for so many jobs. I had several law firm jobs that I didn’t find very suitable. Then I found my way to working inside the court system, in the family law courts. We work with issues surrounding child custody and family disputes. It’s hard and frustrating and sad and it can be so, so rewarding when the right solutions are worked out. I like it because it’s always a matter of helping people with tough problems. It feels so worthwhile, like “giving back” to the society we live in. We help “the best people on the worst day of their lives,” and that makes it really satisfying.

What are a few things that you like the most about Southern Gables?  Liza: Even though I grew up so close by, I had never been in the Southern Gables neighborhood and didn’t know it was here. It’s a hidden gem. I feel like we live in a Leave it to Beaver neighborhood. I love being around things like kids with lemonade stands, neighbors helping each other with lawn care, snow shoveling, borrowing things… we have the best neighbors ever in living next to Doug and Judy. Omigosh, it’s like having an extra mom and dad looking out for us, helping with everything.

Do you have a favorite memory with your Southern Gables neighbors?  Well, like I just mentioned Doug and Judy: I wanted to give a bridal shower for my best friend and asked Judy where I might rent or buy things like chafing dishes, extra tableware, tables and chairs. They had all the things, and just brought them over! Joe: We have a lawn care competition too; Doug has the greenest grass around, but we’re going to get ours up to his standard and more. Kidding, sort of. Doug helped us deal with an invasion of ash tree saplings, and warned us about hemlock. I had no idea. Judy is our Japanese Beetle consultant.

How about your hobbies, things you do in your leisure time?  Liza: We love skiing, hiking, mountain climbing, camping. Joe has climbed 41 fourteeners. Joe: And Liza has done five. She’s getting into it. We are both taking German lessons and that’s kind of fun. Liza: And cooking and drinking wine. Joe is the cook, and the wine expert as well. We keep meticulous records on the wines we have tried, and we’re always learning. I do the baking.

Do you have a favorite quote or saying you can pass on to us?  Joe:  Work to live, don’t live to work. Liza: Being open to new things is a valuable trait. Approach things with a childlike wonder.

Bruce: Sounds like wisdom in a couple of small packages! Practical and aspirational. Thank you for letting us get to know you, and we’ll see you around the neighborhood!

Contact [email protected] to nominate a candidate for the “Meet Your Neighbor” series.

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