July 2020 Newsletter

The latest in our series…

The People of the Park:

A Visit with Sandi Jessen

By Dale Dauten

“My children tell me I’m forbidden to sell my place. Too many memories. They’ve been coming to Silveridge since my parents moved here when the boys were in the sixth grade – those kids are out of college and all grown up.”

That’s Sandi Jessen reflecting back on how long she’s been around Silveridge. Her parents came to the desert after they retired and she says of visiting them, “There were not a whole of people at the park back then. My parents started with a fifth wheel, then bought a place and ended up living in three of the four corners of the park.” She also recalled them staying busy: “My father was active in the wood shop and my mother did craft and quilting. And they did square dancing.”

Just the thought of square dancing got Sandi going: “There was a lot of square dancing back then. I’m working on getting it back. Square dancing has changed — it isn’t like people remember, with the big skirts and the rigid routines; now, it’s more like line dancing. I know someone who could teach it and I want to bring it back.” (We checked with Activities Director Sue Arneson and we learned that Sandi’s effort are paying off — Sue is working on the details to add square dancing to the Activities roster. If you would be interested in joining in, see the note at the end of this article.)

Photo below: Sandi (far right) with husband Mike and sister Connie (center), daughter-in-law and grandson

As for Sandi’s earlier days, she grew up in Colorado, where her father was an Account Manager for Pennzoil and her mother an Associate Director at the University of Denver. Sandi ended up going to high school in Colorado Springs and then on to the University of Colorado in Boulder (one of the prettiest collegiate settings in the country, as you can see in the photo below).

She ended up in Denver, and that’s where a friend invited her to a party and she met her future husband, Mike Jessen. (His given name is John Michael but has always gone by Mike.) He was out of the Navy and a fireman/paramedic in Denver. As Sandi put it, “You gotta love a man in uniform.” They married a couple of years later, had two boys, and Mike eventually took a job with Boulder County, running their sign shop.

Sandi was a stay-at-home mom for a while, but then she got her real estate license and then became a broker for Coldwell Banker and then Century 21. And while she thrived, she felt her interest in the work waning. As she put it, “I realized I just wasn’t that jazzed anymore.” It was about that time when Sandi’s mother pointed out an ad in the newspaper, saying, “Look, America West is hiring.” (If you’ve been around Arizona for a while, you’ll remember America West was founded here, then bought U.S. Airways, then American Airlines.)

So Sandi applied, got hired and had two weeks to quit her old job and start the new one. Sure, it would mean a cut in pay, but Sandi and husband Mike figured that as long as they could pay college tuition for their kids, they’d take the great benefits, including travel, and make it work. Sandi says it wasn’t long till she realized, “It was the best move I ever made.”

(We asked Sandy if she had any photos from those days and she found a couple: That’s Sandi front row, center, of her training class at America West and her on the left after a red-eye to JFK)

Meanwhile, her parents retired and moved to Silveridge and Sandi began making regular visits. “We visited all the time – at Spring Break and at Christmas. The boys loved it.”

Eventually, Mike retired, leading Sandi to say, “He took care of the dogs and I flew.” And when the commute from Colorado to Arizona became tiresome, Sandi decided it was time to be close to her parents and they moved to SIlveridge.

(First photo below, Sandi and Mike in the captain’s chairs of their son’s motorhome while parked at Silveridge, along with Sandi’s sister, Connie, and long-time Silveridge pals, Dorian and May Stewart.

Second photo:  Sandi and Mike prepare for a Halloween party at Silveridge. As Sandi told us. “He got a lot of offers. TeeHee!”)

While the Jessens used to bring their sons to visit their grandparents at Silveridge, these days it’s the boys visiting with their kids – son Bill lives in Denver, where he’s an Account Exec, while Michael lives in San Diego and is a scientist (cell and gene biology) who’s jumped in to work on the fight against covid-19. Each son has a daughter and a son, so a new generation of visitors continues the tradition.

Asked how things have evolved at Silveridge, Sandi said, “When I used to fly, we had something called A&B Cards. That stood for Above & Beyond, and we’d get them for making a special effort for customers or coworkers. I think the management at Silveridge deserves something like that. It’s not owned by some big conglomerate, but by people who you can tell care about the park and the residents. We have the finest owners of any park in the Valley.”

(If you’d thinking you’d like to give square dancing a try, let Sandi know – she’s starting a list of people who are interested – billiekinport@gmail.com )

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If you’d like to volunteer to be the subject of an article, or have someone you’d like to learn more about, please let me know.

Or, if you have photos you’ll like to share in upcoming newsletters, please send them.

Dale Dauten, Editor

Email:  ddauten@gmail.com

Text: 480-297-6244

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