You know that you’re sitting across from a good man when you learn that even though Jim Kreider moved from New Jersey to Colorado with his family when he was one and a half years old, he doesn’t call himself a native. That’s integrity.
Jim grew up in the heart of Denver, graduating from East High School.
With a work background in accounting, Jim spent a good portion of his career as treasurer, Chief Financial Officer and General Manager of Athalon. “We started from zero and created a $25 million dollar company,” he says with a humble smile. The sports gear company took off during the 14 years Jim was there. “We originally made products for the ski industry but then expanded into luggage.” Today you can find the luggage under the name of Eddie Bauer.
Jim shows his pride when he recalls that Athalon “employed 60 sewers in Denver.” Due to cost constraints, they had to make “one of the most disheartening decisions” to move the sewing away from Denver. “You can’t stay competitive.” The look on his face was proof that he still regrets having to make the move.
Jim and his partners went on to create a braking system for inline skates which was eventually sold to Nike. Next was a business in light bulb supplies that he clarified by adding “we did lighting retrofits. We would go into high rises and install energy efficient lighting.” Typical of Jim’s generosity, he made sure to mention that this business was run with Bill Leake, whom he met at Hiwan. After 14 years “we sold it to a large lighting company in Texas.” Then it was time to retire.
Both he and his wife, Anita, “have been involved in Evergreen projects since moving here in 1985.” “She’s my soul mate.”
“I somehow thought that I would have all sorts of time on my hands, but I don’t seem to have enough hours in the day.” That’s easy to understand when you learn all that Jim is involved in. “Anita [his wife] and I have been involved with the National Repertory Orchestra (NRO) back to the days it was the Colorado Philharmonic Orchestra (CPO) based in Evergreen.
The seasonal orchestra worked to create practical experience for young musicians with excellent credentials academically but with no practical experience. The group pulled up roots in Estes Park and relocated to Evergreen in 1966, changing its name from the Blue Jeans Symphony to the Colorado Philharmonic Orchestra. Each summer approximately 75 select young musicians (aged 17-26, chosen from 1,000 who auditioned) from all over the country would spend their summers in Evergreen, housed at a former dude ranch in the Marshdale area. Board members and community supporters often “adopted” the musicians for a summer giving them a touch of home life while they were away from home.
We have the dearest friends through the NRO.” Jim served as Treasurer and went on to become the Board President. “We’ve been successful because of our wonderful supporters who are from both the Evergreen/Denver area and Breckenridge. “We found a group of 20 or so people who really love classical music; it brings out the soul of people and really strikes a chord.” (No pun intended.)
The young musicians would rehearse together and perform dozens of concerts, some of which were in Evergreen. Those concerts led to founding of the Evergreen Music Festival in 1990 after the CPO had relocated to Keystone, later finding a more permanent home in Breckenridge. “We were a part of bringing NRO Director Carl Topilow back to Evergreen.”
For years contributions enabled the orchestra to return for a few performances each summer, the main one being the 4th of July performance at the lake. However, the NRO no longer plays in Evergreen on Independence Day. “It was just too hard on the performers to play in Breckenridge in the morning, Evergreen in the afternoon and back to Breckenridge in the evening. But what a treat it has been to know Carl; he has been a part of the NRO for 45 plus years.”
Jim now serves as the Treasurer and a member of the Board of Directors of Sculpture Evergreen, the group that places sculptures in public places. “Becky Cunningham got me involved and I love working with Sam Smith, Woody Hancock and others.” Jim has been a part of Sculpture Evergreen for since 2010.
He is also a member of Evergreen Rotary. “I just love the people. It’s a group of individuals where the people are really interesting. You’re humbled at every meeting when you learn what others are doing or have accomplished.”
In addition to being incredibly involved in the community, playing tennis golf, and skiing in the winter, Jim loves to hike but “we don’t hike enough. What a great place we have here,” he said spreading his arms wide. He and Anita “love to travel. She’s our planner. We’ve been to Europe, and recently we traveled to Taiwan, Vietnam and Laos. They’re beautiful countries.”
Jim stopped and shook his head slightly. “We have a lot of friends who have sold their homes and moved elsewhere; we can’t imagine leaving Evergreen – toes first!”