(1901 - 1982)
Addison Rozwell Clark, Sr., was known to folks in the mountain community as “Rozzi.” He and his wife, Leona, first visited Evergreen during a trip to Denver for the 1926 Rotary Club Convention.
Rozzi was born in Kansas City, Mo. and met Leona at a Rotary luncheon in Butler County, Kansas, where she was introduced as a candidate for “Miss El Dorado.” He had a Pierce Arrow dealership in Wichita.
They married a year later and made summer trips to Evergreen until the early '40s, when they bought property and relocated. By that time the family included three sons: Rozzie, Jr.; Lee, aka “Bud;” and Conrad, aka “Butch.”
In 1943 Rozzi bought 160 acres along Brook Forest Road – the Rocky Mountain Evergreen Nursery, known nationally for its blue spruce seedlings at least in part because of the history of the blue spruce.
In 1862 Charles Christopher Parry of England had first studied and named the Colorado Blue Spruce right here in Evergreen, along Bear Creek; a plaque with that designation is located near Church of the Transfiguration. Rozzi later said he knew nothing about nurseries, but after operating the business for nearly eight years he’d sold enough trees to pay for the property.
As keeper of the keys to nearly 400 summer homes and cabins, Rozzi became a well-trusted member of the community. His rule was that pipes and hoses were drained and water turned off by Sept. 17 so pipes wouldn’t freeze. The date to turn everything back on in the spring was May 17. Prior to the 1960s Evergreen was primarily a summer destination with fewer than 2,000 year-round residents in Evergreen and thousands more visiting each summer.
Over time, the tree business merged into a landscaping business, which then turned toward remodeling. Called the Evergreen Supply Co., it later became ESCO, another Clark family company specializing in excavation, erosion control and general contracting.
One of Rozzi’s favorite projects was remodeling at El Rancho Restaurant in the 1950s. He also built the rectory at Christ the King Catholic Church and remodeled buildings on Main Street and homes in Hiwan Hills.
Rozzi started an all-volunteer ambulance service after a young girl was seriously injured when she was hit by car on Main Street.
Authors Eugene and Barbara Sternberg later wrote: “She had to lay there for one and a half hours before an emergency vehicle arrived from Denver. This was in the early ’50s, and it crystallized in the minds of Evergreen’s leading citizens the conviction that it was time for this town to have its own ambulance.”
Rozzi didn’t hesitate to collect money for a 1951 Chevrolet station wagon to serve as an ambulance by walking up and down Main Street to visit his fellow business owners for contributions. As founder of the Evergreen Ambulance Service, which incorporated in 1952, he was president and served as a charter member. He was involved for 20 years and continued to drive an ambulance into his 70s. Rozzi remarked in 1966, “It takes a particular kind of nut to take on the ambulance job and stick to it.”
The service remained staffed by volunteers until the Evergreen Fire Protection District took it over in the mid-1980s when the volume of calls had increased dramatically because of the influx of year-round residents.
His attitude toward contributing to the community easily crossed over to the Evergreen Fire District. This local agency recruited not only several generations of the Clark family, but many ESCO employees as well.
His friends remembered fondly that Rozzi was always well dressed – even when he showed up to help put out a fire.
Walt Anderson, another early businessman who served as Fire Chief twice, recalled that Rozzi always showed up in “first rate attire.” Anderson said in a 1982 interview: “His PJs never hung below his coat. His socks never sagged. Rumors had it that he laid his clothes out in careful order each night just in case the siren went off.”
His grandson Patrick said, “He was just a hard-working dude willing to help anybody out who needed help.”
Sources: Patrick Clark; Evergreen: Our Mountain Community by Barbara and Eugene Sternberg; Local history files of Mary Helen Crain; Mountain Commuter, Sept. 30, 1982.