Summit Old-Timer: Polly Dal Vera
At 77, Frisco resident Polly Dal Vera is hardly letting any moss grow under her feet. She was getting ready to head out the door Friday morning to climb Chief Mountain with her fiance Scott Keys – an 11,377-foot mountain on Frisco’s west end. In addition to hiking, she also enjoys skiing and bike riding, and is active with the Summit County seniors. She is a greeter each Monday evening for the senior dinner, and says it is a great place to meet people and eat exceptional food.Dal Vera was born on Jan. 19, 1928 in Charlottesville, Va., to Cecil and Anne Watts.She grew up quick, losing her mother at 5, then her father at 12. Her stepmother and her grandmother raised her.She graduated from Lane High School in 1944 at age 16, then went onto Radford College where she majored in English and minored in math and social studies. She graduated in 1948, then got a teaching job in Draper, Va. – population 50.
She taught for a couple of years, but said she didn’t like it. “I couldn’t control the kids. You had to be a disciplinarian, and that’s just not me,” she said Friday morning from her Frisco home.In 1950, she moved west to Denver, after a fellow she had met said Colorado was beautiful.Without a job or a place to live, she moved into a room at the Denver YMCA on 17th Street.”I thought I was going to starve,” she said, not finding any work right off the bat. “Denver seemed like a huge city coming from small Virginia towns. People were friendly, and there were a lot of young people like me living in the YMCA.”One day she got two job offers – one at a bank, the other at the Cosmopolitan Hotel.
“I went with the one that sounded more fun,” she said, and began working in the personnel department at the Cosmopolitan Hotel interviewing potential employees and doing payroll.”That’s where I met my husband,” she said. “He (Roger Dal Vera) was the liquor controller at the hotel.”They were married on Aug. 29, 1952. Her husband eventually went to work for the Rio Grande Railroad, and they moved into a small apartment on Pearl Street in Denver. They had two children: Anne and Rocco.Anne, 51, is a backcountry wilderness ranger living in Bayfield and working in Durango. She was a member of the first all-women expedition to reach the South Pole in 1991, and she still goes to Antarctica each year to work.Rocco, 49, is a professor at the University of Cincinnati, where he teaches speech and acting.
Dal Vera said the family first came to Summit County on family picnics in the 1950s, before the tunnel or Dillon Reservoir were created. “I thought Frisco was the cutest thing that ever was,” said Dal Vera, who said she never dreamed she would ever live in the mountain town.Her daughter landed a job with the Forest Service in the early ’80s – its office was then in Frisco – and the Dal Veras bought a small condo on Granite Street where their daughter lived and they felt “we could feel free to come visit anytime.”After 49-and-a-half years of marriage, Roger succumbed to cancer. Polly decided then to move to Frisco, where she could be close to her daughter, and bought a place on Larson Lane in 1990. “I love the mountains. It’s a wonderful climate and I love the winters,” she said. “The people here are so friendly and nice and there are no bugs.”She hikes and bikes and skis with the seniors, and met her future husband Scott Keys at one of the senior dinners. They have known each other for more than three years and have been living together for the past two years. They will marry on April Fool’s Day, 2006.”We are just a couple of old fools,” said Keys. Dal Vera nods to him with a smile, but it’s a twinkle in her eye that conveys her happiness. The morning still young, they are off to stand on top of a mountain together.
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