Everybody has a story is worth telling, and some folks more than one. A particularly memorable page of the story of longtime Evergreen resident Art Gutierrez was written even before he was born, and for pure romance that uniquely wonderful prequel is a tale that begs telling.
As a boy, Art’s father traveled the length and breadth of the United States with the Gutierrez Brothers Circus. As a girl, his mother followed her family’s business, the Campa Brothers Circus, up and down every highway and byway in Mexico. During a brief tour south of the border, the two clans met, the young Mr. Gutierrez encountered the young Senorita Campa, and the stage was set for a remarkable life’s story.
Arturo ‘Art’ Gutierrez was born in 1953 in Mexicali, Baja, Mexico. When Art was four years old his father wearied of the nomadic hurly-burly of circus life and settled the family in Los Angeles. Art was eight years old when his dad enrolled him in the Boy Scouts. It was an introduction that would provide a strong and recurring theme in every story to follow.
After graduating from high school, Art moved to secure a permanent place in paradise by studying forestry at Humboldt State College. “I wanted to be a park ranger.” Just a year in, however, larger events forced him to alter his plans. Although he’d been offered a commission in the Navy’s Merchant Marine, he cast his lot with the Air Force and immediately volunteered for a post on the ground in Vietnam.
“They must have thought I was crazy, because they didn’t send me.”
The story of Art’s military service is inspirational. He mustered out for good in 1991 after 8 years of active duty and 18 more in the reserves. Besides an opportunity to serve his country, the Air Force provided Art with two other things of lasting value. The first was a first-rate education in telecommunications engineering. The second was a fetching fly-gal named Barbara who would become his wife.
The first would give Art a valuable and challenging career with AT&T, building telecommunications systems connecting the U.S and Europe. “I start every day at 4 a.m.,” says Art. “That’s about lunch time over there.”
The second would give him companionship, support, and a house full of love. Art and Barb arrived in Evergreen in 1991, purchasing a lovely residence on a shady Greenwood parcel that would be home to their three daughters and one son, and home-away-from-home to three grandchildren and counting. Art enrolled his son first in Cub Scout Pack 50, and then Boy Scout Troop 737.
A person’s story is most enduringly told by the impact they have on the world around them. In the case of Art Gutierrez, that impact is astonishingly large, unceasingly positive and – if he were anyone else but Art Gutierrez –quite impossible to sustain. There’s really no other way to portray the scope of Art’s diverse contributions to his community than to simply offer them in dry recitation and let the list tell the tale.
Art is a very active member of the Knights of Columbus at Christ the King Catholic Church. Besides pitching in on standard activities like pancake breakfasts and parish picnics, he’s been head of that organization’s highway-cleanup program for the last 10 years and a popular high school religious education instructor at Christ the King for the last 30.
Art is a long-standing member of Evergreen Kiwanis, a tireless champion for Evergreen Rotary, and chaplain for American Legion Post 2001. From the Slacker Half-Marathon to SummerFest, to the Big Chili Cook-off, very little happens in these parts without Art’s help.
He was a founding board member of both the Higher Ground and Cougar Pride youth programs, and Art’s been helping Drive Smart since its very beginning. He was on hand for this year’s Outdoor Skills Day at Evergreen Lake.
“And I always do two shifts at the Evergreen Rodeo,” says Art. “I do ticket sales at the gate, then hang around and encourage people to buy beer.”
Since half that volume of volunteerism would be twice the normal load, one wonders where Art came by his extraordinary commitment to community.
“I attribute it to the Boy Scouts,” he says, simply. “They instill kids with a sense of community service, so as adults they are community-oriented.”
More than 50 years later, the Scouts are still central to the Gutierrez narrative. First as a devoted dad, and now as dedicated chaplain, he’s led Troop 737 on outdoor adventures to wild slices of heaven from Boundary Waters, to Yellowstone, to Camp Tahosa in the deep woods outside of Ward. And each year he marshals his youthful company to place American flags on veterans’ graves at both Evergreen Memorial Park and Bear Creek Cemetery.
“I’m on the Archdiocese of Denver’s committee to promote Scouting.”
By all rights, Art shouldn’t have a moment left to himself. Yet, somehow, he and Barb find time to keep a hand in the Gutierrez family business.
“We’re both registered clowns,” Barb laughs. “My clown-name is Petunia. Art’s is Tootie Frootie.”
Ask any of Art’s younger neighbors and they’ll tell you the best chapter in his biography is actually a ghost story. The Gutierrez home has for years been an object of Halloween pilgrimage that attracts trick-or-treaters from across the mountain area for a taste of whatever elaborate horror Art and Barb have cooked up for their frightful delight. “One year we had an alien who crash-landed,” Art grins. “Last year’s theme was Zombies and Plants. This year we’re going to do something with a mad scientist.”
If Art Gutierrez’s story is involved, it’s not complicated. He’s simply a man who values his neighbors, and who is forever willing to place his time, talents and inexhaustible energy at their service.
“I just help out where I can,” Art shrugs. “It keeps me pretty busy.”