Update: A virtual celebration of life will be held through Mile Hi Church on Friday, February 26, 2021 at 2:00 pm MST. For details and Zoom invitation please see https://www.milehichurch.org/memorials/ or email Cerveny.firstname.lastname@example.org
Carl Albert Cerveny was born October 11, 1929 to Albert and Martha Cerveny. Surrounded by his entire family, he passed peacefully from this world on January 27, 2021 at the age of 91 having lived a rich and full life.
Carl was raised at 26th and Clayton attending Columbine Elementary School, Smiley Middle School and graduating from East High in 1947. As a teenager Carl developed an interest in Falconry training a sparrow hawk and then a prairie falcon in City Park close by his home. With his Colorado roots dating before 1900, Carl proudly displayed his Colorado Pioneer license plates.
He enrolled at the University of Colorado as a second-generation CU student in the business school graduating with a BS in Marketing in 1951. He met his wife, Gretchen, on a blind date in July 1951. They dated while he was in graduate school working on his MBA and she finished her degree in Physical Therapy. Carl and Gretchen married December 26, 1954 celebrating their 66th wedding anniversary last year.
Carl’s father died in July 1944 a few months before Carl’s 15th birthday. Shortly after, Carl received his first black Labrador retriever, Chukar. Until recent years he was never without a black lab. His neighbor Gordon McPhee was his mentor for duck hunting, as well as goose, pheasant, grouse, deer, and antelope. Carl was happiest sitting in the cold on the Platte River watching the sunrise with one of his beloved Labradors. He continued this love until his 81st birthday. In fact, all of his children hunted birds with him at least once. His son Chris and his grandson Nathan, along with several longtime friends, continued to be his hunting partners.
Carl’s maternal grandparents Carl and Lydia Christoffers lived nearby, and he was very close to the family particularly to his uncle, Herman Christoffers (Chris). When Uncle Chris died in January 1953, Carl stopped working on the last part of his master’s dissertation so he and his mother, Martha, could take over the Frosted Scotchman located at 50th and Federal. Originally a walk-up restaurant offering soft serve ice cream along with sodas and grill food, Carl and his mother transformed the restaurant into an American Graffiti-like drive-in complete with waitresses coming outside to deliver your order. With that, the Scotchman Motor Restaurant was born. The “Scotchman” was a Denver icon for 24 years. To this day many who grew up in the Northwest area of Denver remember their wonderful years at the “Scotchman”. When the Scotchman closed on Carl’s birthday, October 11,1977, current and former customers held a vigil in the area surrounding the Scotchman, all leaning on their horns when the lights turned off for the final time. In June 2006 a Scotchman reunion was held at Bandimere Speedway. T-shirts sold out as did the Horrible Burgers and Hot Kookies (cinnamon oil flavored Coke). Everyone shined up their muscle and antique cars for the event. The Scotchman is featured in the book “Lost Restaurants of Denver” published in 2015.
Carl was an avid CU football fan for his whole life attending all the home football games from 1947 until 2019. Carl and Gretchen’s wedding date, December 26, 1954 was chosen so they could see CU playing in the Orange Bowl. Gretchen was happy CU didn’t qualify so they were able to honeymoon in Mexico instead. When CU played in the Orange Bowl in 1989, Carl and Gretchen, with their adult children, finally attended. Carl was a loyal Buff fan never leaving a game early no matter what the score or the temperature. One of his prized possessions is a section of the goal post from CU’s 1986 victory over Nebraska ending two decades of defeats. Carl and Gretchen were also season ticket holders for both men’s and women’s basketball. At last count, Carl and Gretchen’s family holds 13 degrees from the University of Colorado, including three 4th generation graduates.
Carl and Gretchen lived in Denver for one year while Gretchen worked at Rose Hospital. They moved to Wheat Ridge in 1956 when they built the second Scotchman restaurant at 41st and Wadsworth. Carl remained a Wheat Ridge resident the rest of his life. Their three children Mara, Carla, and Chris (named after Carl’s uncle Herman) were born in Wheat Ridge, graduated from Wheat Ridge High School and are third generation graduates of the University of Colorado.
In 1957 Carl was a founding member of the Wheat Ridge Optimist Club, which is still in existence. Being a founding member was no coincidence with family and friends frequently describing Carl as one of the most optimistic persons they know. He ran their fall Optimist Pancake Supper for 60 years and served as president of the Club twice. In 2010 the Club founded the Carl Cerveny Scholarship Fund for graduates of Wheat Ridge High School.
Shortly after the death in 1988 of a close family friend, Carl and his Mother donated $80,000 of their inheritance to the Denver Teachers' Awards. “Auntie Helen” was a dedicated Denver Public Schools teacher who taught at Denver South High School for 40 years. As a result of their donation, the Helen Phelps Award was established recognizing both an individual and a company for exemplary volunteerism in the Denver Public Schools. To date the Helen Phelps Award has recognized 32 individual and 27 business volunteers. Carl served on the board of the Denver Teacher Awards for 30 years.
Carl was active in the City of Wheat Ridge. He was part of the task force which convinced citizens it was a good idea to widen 32nd Ave between Kipling and Youngfield to three lanes along with adding bicycle lanes and wide sidewalks. If you research the TABOR amendment you will see that in 1993 “Cerveny vs the City of Wheat Ridge” was the first lawsuit to enforce the special election provision of the TABOR amendment. Carl served on the board of the Westridge Sanitation District for 10 years. He rose through the board positions serving as its President and chairing the January meeting just one week before his death. He also served on the Planning Commission of Wheat Ridge for 10 years. In 1997 he walked the entire City of Wheat Ridge with his wife, Gretchen, when she ran and was elected the Mayor of Wheat Ridge.
While running the Scotchman Restaurant Carl served on the Board of the Colorado Wyoming Restaurant Association. He served as President one year receivingits “Distinguished Service Award” in 1971. Carl also served on the legislative committee of the Colorado Wyoming Restaurant Association as long as he had the Scotchman.
With the closure of the Scotchman Restaurant in 1977, Carl began his second career in real estate. After earning a Broker Certification from the University of Colorado and working for several agencies, Carl owned/operated Carl Cerveny Realty under the Metro Broker Franchise until he retired in 1999. Carl served on the Legislative Committee of the Colorado Association of Realtors all the years he was in the field of real estate. He was honored in 1991 with the Political Service Award by the Jefferson County Association of Realtors.
When the children were young, vacations were two or three-day fishing trips. Family picnics were in the winter when the restaurant wasn’t busy. After tobogganing the family roasted wieners and marshmallows around the campfire in the snow. In the summer, Carl was always available to play “kick the can” with the children in the neighborhood. The family camped in Mesa Verde National Park and Yellowstone National Park, along with running the Yampa and Green Rivers. In 1972 the family spent 5 days rafting through the Grand Canyon. Vacations included a family trip to Hawaii visiting 3 of the islands and driving over 100 miles. In search of perfect snorkeling, the family hiked several miles only to find the riptide was too dangerous for snorkeling. This information was kindly supplied by the members of a nudist colony who were living there.
As adults, Carl and Gretchen took skiing lessons along with their children in 1970. That led to many enjoyable family ski vacations and days on the slopes. In fact, Carl was able to ski free at Winter Park when he turned 60… or maybe it was 65. He enjoyed skiing until 2004. With his salt and pepper beard, a twinkle in his blue eyes and his red snow jacket he was often mistaken for Santa Claus Carl and Gretchen purchased a National Parks pass for $10.00 when Carl turned 60. This pass was well used as Carl and Gretchen visited over 40 National Parks and Historic Monuments.
Their son, Chris, got Carl started on scuba diving. Gretchen soon followed earning her open water certification on Heron Island on the Barrier Reef on their trip to Australia and New Zealand. Carl made over 60 dives in Australia, Tahiti, Hawaii, Belize, Bahamas, Cayman Islands, Guanaja, Florida and Mexico.
After the children graduated from college, Carl & Gretchen enjoyed many travel adventures together. These included:
• Three months exploring Alaska and northern Canada in a camper, highlighted by wading in the Arctic Ocean, fishing excursions, and a picture in front of the mountain Denali with clear skies.
• Their first cruise which took them to England, Normandy France, Ireland, Scotland, and Norway.
• A cruise around South America highlighted by the beaches of Rio de Janeiro, three sunny days viewing Antarctica, and ending with 3 days in Iguazu Falls International Park.
• Six days on a houseboat in Peru exploring the land and villages on Rio Napa that flows into the Amazon then concluding with 4 days in Machu Picchu.
• A cruise through the Panama Canal and a tour of the National Parks of Costa Rica.
• A river cruise on the Danube and Mein exploring the Czech Republic, Germany, Austria, Slovakia and Hungary.
• One of Carl’s favorite trips was the opportunity to join Gretchen and others on The Mayors’ Tour of Israel.
Carl is survived by his devoted wife of 66 years, Gretchen, along with their 3 children and families: daughter Mara Marks, husband Stephen and their son Colby; daughter Carla Rail, husband Anton and their son Jacob, daughter Martha, and son Nathan with his wife Emily; son Chris Cerveny, wife Lorie Chandler and their sons Chandler and Chase.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be directed to either:
• A check payable to the CU Foundation with memo line reading “Football Excellence Fund-In Memory of Carl Cerveny.” Mail the check to Buff Club, Attn: Casey Gibson, 2150 Stadium Dr, 5th Floor, Boulder, CO 80309. Or donate online at https://cubuffclub.com/imo-cerveny
• A check payable to the Wheat Ridge Community Foundation with memo line reading “Carl Cerveny Scholarship Fund.” Mail the check to Wheat Ridge Community Foundation, 4005 Kipling Street, Wheat Ridge, CO 80033. Or donate online at www.wheatridgefoundation.org/carl-cerveny-scholarship-endowment.html
Wherever Carl’s office was he displayed a plaque with a quote by Edwin Markham:
“He drew a circle that shut me out
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout!
But Love and I had the wit to win
We drew a circle that took him in.”
Carl as husband, dad, grandfather, friend and mentor was always there to help us through tough times. We were surrounded in unconditional love. We will miss him so while carrying his memories, optimism, booming voice, and unconditional love with us!