Sunday, June 1, 2014

Joe and Leah Tekavec

Joe and Leah Tekavec's roots in Globeville ran deep. Joe Tekavec was born in 1906 to parents who emigrated from Slovenia, then part of Austria-Hungary. The family lived on Elgin Place in a Slovenian enclave on Globeville’s north side, attending Holy Rosary Church and events at the Western Slavonic Association [WSA]. 
Leah Jacoby was born in 1913 in the house her grandfather built on Lincoln Street on the south end of Globeville. The Jacobys were Volga Germans from Norka, Russia and attended the First German Congregational Church. The culture of those times dictated that Joe and Leah would spend most of their time with people from the same ethnic background, but somehow they met, fell in love and were married. Daughter Janet Tekavec Wagner mused, ”People didn’t attend each other’s church services in those days, so I guess I’ll never know how they met.”
The Tekavecs enjoyed a conventional lifestyle with Joe working as an auto mechanic and Leah as a homemaker, and straddled the ethnic cultural divide by attending religious services at the First German Congregational Church and participating in the social activities of the WSA. Joe served as the supervisor of the WSA’s young people's group for many years where son Jim and daughter Janet were enrolled.
When Interstates 25 and 70 carved up the neighborhood they loved, Joe and Leah decided to stay rather than move and joined the Globeville Civic Association to fight for the survival of their community. Leah became treasurer of the organization in 1961, a post she would hold for 17 years, and Joe served as president from 1970 to 1978, a time when Globeville was under attack by the city. 
Tekavecs arranged countless meetings in churches, lodges, and associations to organize neighbors in opposition to Denver's plan to turn Globeville into an industrial area. Tekavecs and the Civic Association then fought to get the neighborhood its fair share of city services, helped neighbors obtain funds to improve their homes and successfully fought the construction of rendering plants that would produce sickening smells in the area. The Tekavecs became familiar to city officials at public meetings. “They know me when they see me,” Joe said.* 
The Civic Association was also active in improving the quality of life for Globeville's seniors, creating a health clinic, community luncheons and activities in the former First German Congregational Church. Daughter Janet continued, “The Civic Association also sponsored kids’ softball teams and held lots of pancake breakfasts to pay for the uniforms.”
When Joe and Leah stepped down in 1978, the city had dropped its plans to industrialize the area, and the neighborhood had begun to recover and improve. Tekavecs would live to see the neighborhood they loved celebrate its centennial in 1988. Joe passed away in 1989 and Leah in 1991.
*Globeville Community Spirit Renewed to Combat Blight, Denver Post, July 29, 1978, pg 21

Leah and Joe Tekavec

House on Lincoln Street built by Leah's Grandfather

Joe, far left, with WSA's young people's group