RidgeGate Up Close
Les Lundstrom, Original RidgeGate Resident
“RidgeGate Up Close” is our series of interviews with people who make RidgeGate a more vibrant place. Read the unexpected stories of residents, workers and local leaders who live and work here. Know someone who has a unique perspective or life in RidgeGate? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This month: Les Lundstrom, Original RidgeGate Resident
Les Lundstrom has been a fixture in the RidgeGate neighborhood since the first homes were occupied. Spend an hour with him, and you’ll quickly discover a sincere interest in others rooted in empathy. We met up with Les on a sunny afternoon in RidgeGate’s Belvedere Park and talked about his deep connection to the neighborhood and the people who live and work here.
Les: I was the first occupant of the Renaissance townhome building. Needless to say, none of this around us was here at the time. We came from South Florida. I was in the financial services business. My son was my partner. We were very fortunate and cashed out in 2005, and I was able to retire when I was 59. These days, I tell people who are recently retired that they will know they are retired when they wake up and don’t know what day it is.
As a newcomer to Colorado, what made you look in RidgeGate?
Les: Well, my son and his family were in Castle Pines, and my real estate agent said, “I heard about this new development. Let’s take a look at it.” I didn’t know much about Colorado at that time, but I was smart enough to see that this area had Sky Ridge Medical Center, I-25, C-470—logistically you can’t beat it. I joked with my wife, I said, “Look, if I ever need to, we can go right down the street to the hospital.”
I understand you and your wife just celebrated a big milestone…
Les: We did. My wife and I have been married 50 years as of last June. We met in high school in Chicago.
How did you celebrate your 50th wedding anniversary?
Les: Actually, we went to the Lone Tree Arts Center and saw Ruben Studdard, who won American Idol back in 2003. I called up the President of the LTAC and said, “Lisa, can you do me a favor? Could you get me front row tickets?” She said “Sure!” Then I said, “Lisa, do you think Ruben could maybe give us a little shout out?” So we got to the show, and on our front row seats I had a bouquet of flowers waiting for my wife, and then halfway through the show Ruben stopped and said, “Let’s give a big shout out to Les and Judy who are celebrating 50 years tonight!” People cheered for us. It was great.
You have been involved in the evolution of the area, making sure that the voices of the residents are heard. Tell us how…
Les: Before we moved here, I had extensive experience serving on boards. When we decided to buy here I called Keith Simon—the developer—and said, “Keith, I’d like to be on the board,” and I went on to serve on the resident-controlled board here for seven years. I’m now on the Service Area Committee, which is an important job for each of the five communities in RidgeGate.
What do you do as a member of the Service Area Committee?
Les: We oversee the budget expenditures. For example, we just painted Renaissance for the second time. Every seven years we do that. We monitor the reserve study, which puts an age on everything and determines when things need to be replaced. Resident complaints and problems, we receive all of those. Everybody there knows me now, because it’s my home as well. I think the committee has done a really terrific job. The place looks wonderful.
When you aren’t supporting your residential community, I understand we can probably find you at SkyRidge Hospital?
Les: Yes, I’ve been a volunteer – a “patient family escort”—at Sky Ridge since 2011. There probably isn’t a single doctor or nurse in that hospital that I don’t know. It’s become a big part of my life. I’ve logged roughly 2,600 hours over there. They just opened a full-sized Starbucks in the hospital. I guess someone there heard about me, so they gave me a call and asked if I’d like to work at Starbucks. I said, “I’m 73 years old! What am I going to do—make coffee?” But I told them, “How about this instead…I’ll deliver your coffee around the hospital.” I want to see them make it, and I think the patients and visitors would enjoy that service.
I’m also part of an international program called “No One Dies Alone.”
What is No One Dies Alone?
Les: Well, periodically we get people at the hospital who are dying but don’t have any family or friends available or still living. So, we sit with them until they pass—24/7. It’s not for everybody, but this program has become a part of my life. What we learn when we go through the training is that the hearing is the last thing to go. You may think you’re talking to someone who doesn’t understand you, but often they can.
How has exposure to so many who are terminally ill impacted you?
Les: My wife and I value our health quite a bit– without it, you don’t have much. I’m grateful I can go out my front door and walk across the street to the Bluffs. That was a perk that I didn’t fully appreciate at the time I bought in. They keep expanding the trail system–it’s wonderful. I’m pretty confident my wife and I have walked those bluffs more than almost anyone else in the neighborhood. We average probably 35 miles a week walking. We love seeing the deer, the coyotes…the occasional rattlesnake…
Ok, there are apparently several schools of thought about what one should do if they are bit by a rattlesnake. What would you tell someone to do if they got bit?
Les: …I’d say you need to get yourself over to Sky Ridge Medical Center. I’ll bring you coffee, and I’ll make sure you get a nice room.