Meet Dave Lystrom

Written by Anne Vickstrom on .

Meeting Dave Lystrom can be a bit humbling. After just a few minutes with him you know that he is one impressive guy.

Currently serving as the Treasurer of Evergreen’s Alliance for Sustainability + You, better known as EAS+Y, Dave has earned himself a reputation for getting down to work and getting any job handed to him done right.

Dave grew up on a farm in central Minnesota. “I have only good memoires of hard work and long days,” he said. “When a friend lost his hand in an accident, everyone else in the community pitched in.”

Dave became a Civil Engineer and in 1964 landed his first job with the U.S. Geological Survey. It suited him well, taking him and his new bride, Karen, to Portland for two years.

“Then I got a pretty low draft notice. I became a commissioned officer in the U.S. Coast Guard and continued the work on the Geological Survey for two years. I served as an Executive Officer on a ship off of Alaska and the Puget Sound. It was a 136-foot ship with 4 officers and 29 crew members,” he smiled, recalling his memories of a different time.

He returned to Portland for 10 years and then accepted a position in Urban Hydrology at the Survey’s headquarters in Reston, Virginia. “Basically, we were working to understand the affects of urban runoff. Our main goal was to study about 20 cities, collect data and come to understand how urban areas need to be designed to include water storage and runoff to protect wild areas.”

In 1981, he was transferred to the Federal Center in Lakewood to be in charge of Hydrologic Studies. “I set a goal; if I was going to move it was going to be west of I-25.” He and Karen, and their two daughters made Evergreen their home. Today their daughters and four grand-daughters live in Pine Junction and Littleton. After 17 years, Dave decided to retire - to the benefit of all of us in Evergreen.

He volunteered for ten years building homes with Habitat for Humanity. He didn’t just show up; he organized construction activities and provided on-the-job training for new volunteers. He was also Chairman of Trustees for the Evergreen United Methodist Church and as treasurer of the Board of Trustees for the Evergreen Unity Church.

Through his extensive knowledge gained through his career, he has always been interested in sustainability. EAS+Y had formed in 2009 and it seemed like a good group to join.

In 2013 he took on the challenges as project manager for the construction of the Evergreen Community Garden at Buchanan Park. As people adopted plots and plants began to grow Dave dared to imagine his notion of retirement. But sometimes imaginations need to be held back. There was yet another project ahead.

A teacher at Evergreen High School suggested having a garden near the school. “I looked for a site. I met with the principals of the high school and Wilmot Elementary.” The former area of the preschool was the perfect spot. Dave and Shawn Haman shared their ideas of what the garden could be. “We had different ideas – she wanted to have a children’s garden. So we worked together.” But they didn’t work alone.

“We worked with Evergreen Parks and Recreation (EPRD) and we acquired a Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) grant. I remember we submitted it two days before the deadline,” recalling the work it took to secure the grant. “We were only one of fifteen who received the grants. Since Evergreen is not incorporated, we had to submit through EPRD.”

Dave feels satisfaction at seeing the 1/3 of an acre lot that provides 30 community garden plots, 8 of which are dedicated for use by the high school and elementary school. “The kids’ area is great.” Dave sees this as a gathering place where children come to understand where their food comes from. “Kids love to plant, water and see their vegetables grow.” Other benefits he sees from the garden are “people getting to know each other, they learn and help with watering and weeding.”

Asked if he would ever take on a third garden, he considered it; but he has some other things planned. “We love to see our family, and we like to travel.” He and Karen have made it to New Zealand, Australia, Italy, and Alaska, only to name a few trips. “I guess I’m a photography enthusiast. We love to hike the slot canyons near Page and we love to hunt out Anasazi ruins near Moab, Blanding and near the Cedar Mesa. We love to take the grandchildren camping.”

Even in retirement, Dave is one impressive guy.