DENVER — At this point, change is possibly the only constant in the Mile High City.
It’s something that Gail Wheeler knows as well as anyone. Her house – which was once surrounded by others like it – is now the only single-family home left on its block. Her neighbors in the Jefferson Park neighborhood ended up selling to the developers who have since built the large apartment complexes and slot homes that have characterized modern Denver.
Wheeler has stayed behind, remaining in her house just a few blocks from Mile High Stadium near the corner of West 21st Avenue and Decatur Street. It’s something that confounded the developers who offered more than once to buy her property, which happens to sit in one of the city's most sought-after neighborhoods.
“He said, ‘I just don't understand why you would want to live in and amongst all the young people that are going to move in here,’” Wheeler said. “And I said, ‘I didn't know I was old – until you said that’ …because it was, ‘Why would you live here?’”
The neighbors Wheeler had known since her parents bought the house in the 1940s have moved on. And they’ve been replaced with a younger generation.
But even though the days of going next door to borrow a cup of flour might be over, that doesn’t stop Wheeler from being a good neighbor.
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“Even though they’re all young, they’ve all got great personalities,” Wheeler said.
During street sweeping and Denver Broncos games, she goes door-to-door with sticky notes that offer little reminders to make sure her neighbors who park on the street don’t get those pesky $50 tickets.
And her neighbors pay that forward, making sure everyone gets the message about where not to park.
“The notes kinda travel,” Wheeler said.
Wheeler initially didn’t move because she couldn’t find a house to accommodate her husband, who needed an electric wheelchair to get around. He passed away a year ago, but Wheeler said she still doesn’t have any intention of leaving.
Her grandson has stepped up to help around the house, and she also has plenty of her neighbors taking care of her.
“We’ve all become good friends,” Wheeler said.
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