Hey Spike! talks of Summit’s links to Japan | SummitDaily.com

Hey Spike! talks of Summit’s links to Japan

Special to the Daily/Nicky BrownTom Connolly enjoying Japan.

The devastating Japanese people’s situation – earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdowns – has Summit County residents concerned, and some more personally than others.

Frisco was connected via its Sister City Nishikawa, in the Yamagata Prefecture, which is equivalent of a state. Another Colorado city is Boulder, which also has a relationship.

Representatives of Frisco have journeyed to Japan and likewise, their reps came here for visits.

One of those is local architect Tom Connolly of TC3 Architects, who has that little log cabin office at Fifth and Main. Tom is a hot air balloonist, Volksmarch enthusiast and a longtime member of the town Planning and Zoning Commission.

Asked his experiences with the Sister City program, Tom remembers:

“Back in May 2001, I went with then-mayor Bob (“One Book Bob”) and Bonnie Moscatelli to visit our Sister City in Nishikawa.

“According to Google Maps, Nishikawa is about 60 miles west of Sendai, which is one of the cities we’re reading about in the news regarding the earthquake and tsunami. From what I’ve been reading, a lot of people are trying to get out of Sendai and to the capital city of Yamagata, and from there to the rest of Japan.”

“Like most I’ve been stunned by the tragic events that took place, and are still ongoing, and from which they’ll be recovering for a long time to come. The photos, videos and stories coming out of that region have been mind boggling to say the least. At the same time, I’m more in awe and definitely more respectful of Mother Nature,” Tom says.

For many years, the head of the Frisco Sister City Exchange Program and its driving force was Anna Willis, wife of Kent Willis, who now sits on the Frisco Town Council.

“Our liaison for many years was Betsy Crossman, who lives – at least at that time – part-time in their home on Peak 7 with husband John, and part-time at their home outside of Hiroshima. She was always our contact with the schools and the town government, and she was our guide and traveling companion for most of our stay while we were in Japan, and we even stayed at their house for a few nights,” says Tom.

“We had a great stay and a lot of fun in Japan,” he notes, “and our hosts at the prefecture and town levels were wonderful and entertaining,” he adds.

“That one photo is of Bob, Bonnie and I at a fantastic dinner hosted by the State of Nishikawa at a Geisha House,” notes Tom. “As I recall, the man to the right of Bob is the equivalent of the Nishikawa Prefecture Speaker of the House. These photos were taken by Nicki Brown, who accompanied us on the trip and was a Frisco resident at that time.”


 Another report of the unfortunate destruction in Japan comes from Lou and Marilyn Leuszler, who still have a home here and in Trinidad, down in southeastern Colorado. They lived for many years in Japan, when Lou, now a retired airline captain, flew for All Nippon Airways.”

“The Japan ‘quake is devastating,” writes Marilyn. “I’ve heard from most of our friends. Chaotic, families separated, no phones, gas, electric, or water. Transportation coming back very slowly, but people still stranded. Glad we’re not still living there.”

The Leuszlers used to own Travel Experts here. And Marilyn and Hey, Spike! attended Corwin Jr. High School in Pueblo together.


We wish a Happy 75th Birthday to Ron Lewark.


Miles F. Porter IV, nicknamed “Spike,” a Coloradan since 1949, is an Army veteran, former Climax miner, graduate of Adams State College, and a local since 1982. An award-winning investigative reporter, he and wife Mary E. Staby owned newspapers here for 20 years. E-mail your social info to milesfporteriv@aol.com.

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