by Greta Hanson Maurer
When Carol Tezak and Gary Kyte first laid eyes on each other it was at the newly opened Mid-Town Sears in Pueblo, both teens were working a job during the Christmas vacation of 1958. They married in 1961, and will celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary next year, 53 of those years they have resided in Beulah.
In 1941 Carol Tezak was born in Gunnison, Colorado the middle child of John and Carolyn Tezak, who made their home in Crested Butte. Both sets of Carol’s grandparents immigrated from Yugoslavia (Slovenia), making the arduous journey to the busy mining town of Crested Butte for opportunity like so many at the turn of the century.
Her mother’s side of the family owned the Kochevar Saloon (Crested Buttes oldest bar), while raising nine children on Elk Avenue. Carol noted that the front third of the building was the bar, the remainder was the living area for the large family. Carol’s father John was the first of the eight children to move away from Crested Butte, ultimately relocating to Pueblo. Every August, the family would travel over Monarch Pass to visit relatives for a month, recalling that they would sleep at the saloon, and she and her cousins would play around the bar.
Carol grew up on Minnequa Ave. in Pueblo, attending St. Francis Xavier and Pueblo Catholic High School, and her first job was working in the school office. Saints were her role models, she finished 12 years of Catholic school, and determined to enter college. Enrolling in Pueblo Jr. College was a big step, she was fascinated by all things pertaining to medicine, and she dreamed of traveling the world.
Gary Tyler Kyte was also born in 1941 in Powder Branch, Tennessee, and moved with his parents Tyler and Ruby to Las Animas, CO. When he was 8 years old the family settled in Pueblo, where his dad was the head electrician at the Colorado State Hospital. ‘Bud’ as he is also known, mowed lawns in order to purchase his bicycles. He spent much of his youth pedaling around the city, even riding his two-speed bike from Pueblo to Beulah as a teen. At age 15, he worked a split shift at Safeway and earned .63/hour. His family would vacation to Tennessee to see family, or take Colorado fishing trips. He attended Lincoln Elementary and Keating Jr. High; enjoying Math, Drafting and Music. He graduated from Central High School in 1959.
Not long after that fateful meeting in Sears, they became inseparable. Both Carol and Gary started their college careers at Pueblo Jr. college in 1959. Carol pursuing her A.A. in Psychology, and Gary attending for two years in the Engineering program. The pair married in 1961, and after returning from their honeymoon in Santa Fe, NM, they settled in Pueblo.
Oldest daughter Kristi was born in 1962, and the new family made plans to move north for Gary to finish his degree at CSU in Fort Collins. Second child Gary Jr. was born in 1963, his father jokes the name was easy to remember.
The family returned to Pueblo in 1964 where Gary began a teaching career that would span 31 years. He started at Pitts Jr. High, and then moved to East High School, before landing at South High School. He taught architectural drafting, woods and metals, endearing himself to so many of his students through the years. They welcomed third child Karin in 1964. It was during those early hectic days of school, work and raising kids that Kytes took a family picnic to Pueblo Mountain Park, and first pondered living in Beulah.
In 1967 they purchased land on Pine Drive within walking distance to the park. With weekend help from his father and father-in-law, Gary built their beautiful three-bedroom A-frame home in just nine months.
Carol honed her skills as a chef, learning to create dishes from all nationalities, she has lovingly taught her children the art of making Potica (or Povitica), and other family favorites. She became an exquisite seamstress, quilter and knitter.
In 1968, the couple made the bold decision to rent out their new home for a year, moving to Detroit, Michigan where Gary finished his Master’s degree at Wayne State. Upon returning to Beulah, they added two bedrooms on to the home just in time to welcome Karla, their fourth child in 1970.
Gary was earning a reputation as a prized and dedicated shop teacher, always advocating for the students and the school. He touched countless lives, and many fondly recall him being “the best teacher I ever had”. When Gary started commuting to Pueblo for his teaching job he purchased a ‘70 VW Bug, the vehicle would travel over 324,000 miles!
The 1970’s found the couple in the thick of raising children, with life concentric around school and local activities. Pitching in and volunteering was a way of life. Together, they have compiled an impressive list of giving to their community.
Carol was president of Beulah School PTO, a home room Mother for years. She served on the Beulah Historical Society, decorated for the annual Yule Log. As a member of the first class of E.M.T.’s, she was an enthusiastic founding member of the Beulah Volunteer Ambulance. The weekly classes and training included a focus on diabetes, and as a result she recognized the symptoms in her daughter, Kristi, and they immediately found treatment.
While Gary spent summers working as a carpenter, and caretaking the Horseshoe Lodge and Pavilion at the Pueblo Mountain Park with Bill Thompson, he also volunteered.
Gary helped to establish the Pine Drive Water District, serving on the board for 44 years, only retiring this year. Over those years he took hundreds of calls, repaired countless lines, attended commissioners meetings and served as a fair and generous spokesperson at all times.
During his 40 years of volunteering with the Beulah Volunteer Fire Dept. Gary fought fires, and helped his community out of wrecks and accidents. In 2007, he and Thompson mapped out every single house in Beulah and the outlying area for quicker location—the project took hundreds of hours. Gary wrote grants for fire trucks and repairs on the fire house located on Grand Avenue.
Beulah Community Center also enjoyed his help in raising funds, maintenancing the building, renovating the structure, and cleaning bathrooms after events/rentals.
The kids spent most of their childhood outside, exploring the nearby mountain park, playing at their neighbor Kay Keating’s ranch. Each kid had their designated tree house along the creek that runs by their home. The family joined in a host of Beulah activities for all ages including Beulah Valley Saddle Club gymkhanas and rodeos, annual outdoor Art Fair and Yule Log. They spent weekend evenings sharing a bonfire with their neighbors.
The family hosted exchange students and teachers from Finland, Norway, France, and Germany as a means to bring the world to them.
When the kids were in school, Carol worked part-time in a pediatric office and saved every penny for traveling. Further inspired by foreign lands, Carol received her B.A. in Spanish and French from CSU-Pueblo in 1989 and taught for seven years! Once the kids were out of school, they started traveling—visiting Slovenia, Italy, Spain, France, Finland, Sweden and Germany.
In 2009, Gary and Carol (along with son Gary and wife Sharlene) purchased the Keating Ranch (formerly the Klipfel Ranch, and renamed it the Triple K Ranch). Preserving the beloved area from development, they embarked on a new journey of farming and ranching. When they had questions, they asked their friends and neighbors, picking up tips about making hay from the Purvis family.
They have shored up electricity, repaired fences and corrals, painted buildings, constructed additions, started a small herd of Llamas and adorable mini-Donkeys. Gary helps in the care and feeding of multiple bee hives, pitching in to help with the processing of honey when it’s a good year.
Despite their varied careers, the Kyte’s children have all ended up living in Colorado, with the exception of Kristi who passed away in 2011. The Kytes have 14 grandchildren and four great grand children; Gary is quick to line out hayrides for the eager masses.
Their willingness to share and give of themselves— alongside their bright and positive personalities—has most assuredly made Beulah a better place to live!