Denver's Own Royal Tenenbaums

The late Timber Dick's children are carrying on a brilliant family legacy that includes Nancy Dick and Tom Lantos.

There's always room for one more at the Tillemann-Dicks' dinner table.

Armed with fine silver and blue china, Shiloh Benson Tillemann-Dick, eighteen, carefully sets the lace-draped table, which is large enough for a corporate boardroom. His eleven-year-old brother, Zenith Wisdom, meanwhile, wrestles Nordik, the family's Great Pyrenees, into a side room where the volatile beast can't wreak so much havoc.

Out from the kitchen glides Charity Sunshine, their 24-year-old sister, holding aloft a heaping serving bowl of pasta she just pulled together. Under the soft glow of the dimly lit crystal chandeliers, noodles are ladled onto plates and passed around to Annette, the prettily perfect children's mother, at the head of the table, and her giggling youngest daughters, Mercina Grace, sixteen, and Gloriana Willow, fourteen.

Timber Dick became an inventor at a young age.
Timber Dick became an inventor at a young age.
Annette Tillemann-Dick home-schooled all eleven children at the family home.
Annette Tillemann-Dick home-schooled all eleven children at the family home.

Details

For much more on the Tilleman-Dick family, including Charity singing show tunes, the design of the IRIS engine and a slide show of family adventures, click here.

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Another dish goes to Abdul Salem, the Tillemann-Dicks' latest foreign exchange student (one of about 150 the family has hosted over the years) who eyes it suspiciously and begins furiously fiddling with his electronic pocket translator, struggling for an understandable query over the din of chattering voices. After several failed attempts — "peek?" "pink?" — the family grasps what he's getting at: Is there pig in the food?

"No, no!" cries Annette. As she had assured Abdul when he arrived from Libya a few days before, he wouldn't have to worry about defying his Muslim faith by eating pork. As followers of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the family doesn't eat meat — or partake in alcohol or coffee, for that matter — since they are all discouraged in Mormon doctrine.

She can't blame Abdul for being leery, though, says Annette, laughing. The day after he'd been told about the family's food restrictions, he'd opened the refrigerator to discover two colossal, succulent hams — remnants from the recent funeral.

So, what is in the pasta?

Well, explains Charity with her distinctive effervescence, the meal's based on a song she wrote for her latest composition, Facebook: The Musical. And with little prompting she launches merrily into the piece, and her remarkable soprano voice — one that's been heard on professional opera stages around the world — fills the room:

One part ricotta,

Some thyme and soft goat cheese, with dried porcinis, some garlic and white wine

Mixed all together with some linguini

Or spinach tortellini

Will be so sublime ah ah ah ah!

Charity is looking for constructive criticism, as she'll be off to Los Angeles next week to pitch the musical to potential patrons. But that doesn't mean that this big, white eight-bedroom house on West 46th Avenue will be any quieter. Aside from the five siblings here tonight, Annette's other six children are all scheduled for Denver stopovers, bringing with them tales that suggest they're angling for Tillemann-Dick world domination (see sidebar).

For instance, Liberty Belle, twenty, will soon be arriving from Baltimore, where her advanced studies in the history of science, medicine and technology have barely been slowed by the fact that her foot was recently run over by a car. With her will be her 22-year-old brother, Corban Israel, though he'll only be around for a few days before he heads to China on assignment for a global strategic communications firm. Then Kimber Rainbow, the oldest daughter at 28, will take time off from her Washington, D.C., public-relations job to spend the summer in Denver. Her husband, David (whom they all love, whispers Annette, even though he's a Republican), has already arrived, bringing with him their pet Yorkies and two-week-old puppy, which have already blended into the menagerie of dogs, birds and other creatures populating the grand mansion. Eventually, 26-year-old Levi Mills and 29-year-old Tomicah Sterling should be stopping by, just as soon as the former takes a break from his research for Pulitzer Prize-winning economic writer Daniel Yergin and the latter gets away from his duties as a staffer for the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. Last but not least, there will certainly be a visit or two by Dulcia, the Tillemann-Dicks' adopted daughter from Honduras, who's either 38 or 39 — no one knows for sure.

This evening is hectic enough as the dinner conversation bounces erratically here and there and different voices jockey for attention. One minute, someone is explaining the macrobiotic diet recommended by dear friend Dennis Kucinich; the next, someone else is chortling about a Samoan village chief, another acquaintance, who terrified the children by promising to hold a luau and serve up the pet potbellied pig they once owned.

Before long, someone brings up their father, Timber Dick, who died on April 10 from injuries sustained in a car accident. There's talk of the strange foods Timber cooked up as a child, like Cap'n Crunch Cake and Aspen Bark Bacon, much to the chagrin of his mother, Nancy Dick, who survived the ordeal and went on to become Colorado's first female lieutenant governor. There's guffawing about all the head injuries Timber suffered growing up, one cracked skull after another that never seemed to temper the cerebral intensity between his thinning hair and thoughtful, bespectacled eyes. And there are recollections, too, of the sacrifices he made for his family, like more or less giving up his beloved barbecue ribs when it was decided the clan would become vegetarians.

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19 comments
Barb
Barb

I enjoyed this article very much and knowing this family the way I do they will continue to thrive as they continue to enjoy life together. Thank you for memories of their background. I try to stay in touch with them but as you can tell they are so very busy it proves to be a challenge. God Bless them.

Gracie Jones
Gracie Jones

By the way, great article. Wonderfully written and I feel like I know these quirky, crazy cool people.

Gracie Jones
Gracie Jones

I don't understand why people assume they are wealthy. I know exactly 0 families who have that many kids and are wealthy. But I do think they're pretty cool.

Jana
Jana

There are PLENTY of well connected kids who end up doing nothing with their lives. What is remarkable about this family is that they put their family first -- over fame or money or anything else -- and it shows.

Ben
Ben

Yes, it's amazing what heights children of wealthy, well-connected members of the elite, can reach. Golly.

Steve Eisenberg
Steve Eisenberg

Rich and priveleged people have to work as hard as anyone else to get good at something. What this family is mostly rich with is love, enough to give the kids self-confidence to succeed.

Jim Jones
Jim Jones

What kind of idiot names his kid Timber Dick? And what kind of idiot named Timber Dick doesn't get it changed?

Jeremy Bates
Jeremy Bates

How could anyone hope to accomplish more? Open-minded, accepting, always willing to help. The entire family has been a great example in education, career, and religion. It's also refreshing to have the media's stereotypical view of the LDS as being nothing but conservative illuminated.

Nuri
Nuri

A beautiful family full of amazing people. May they be well served, and may we be deserving of their service to our country as we move forward into this exciting and terrifying time.

Lilac
Lilac

Impressive is an understatement when describing any member of this large family. A chance encounter in which several members of this tribe of over-achievers gave me a lasting and inspiring impression of what is right with the world today is a cherished memory. Kudos on this lovely article.

Ernest
Ernest

I think that they sound like an incredible family. I'm curious though why the author compared them to the Tenenbaums?

Harley K.
Harley K.

Well written article, Joel. Timber is a great American man with a great American family. I hope to incorporate some of his characteristics in my own family like curiousness, service to others, and love of life.

Holly
Holly

I grew up with the Tillemann-Dicks and went to church with them. I remember growing up with the older kids and seeing majority of the younger ones being born and the joy of always going to their home for church functions. I will always remember the stories that Timber and Annette shared all the time about the love they had for eachother. Timber was a wonderful bishop when I was in Young Woman's. I will miss Timber, but there is always one thing to never ever forget and that is the happiness we share in the LDS faith, Families are Together Forever.

Chris Willford
Chris Willford

It is sad that people use the anonymity of the internet to make such insensitive, thoughtless comments. Callousness too often replaces compassion. I knew Timber--an intelligent, compassionate man who was always willing to help. He truly demonstrated the principles of success: education, hard work, integrity, and love of family. If we would seek to better implement these ideas into our lives, I am convinced that we would all be better off.

Lora
Lora

And you're voting for Ron Paul. At least these people seem ok with being different.

Elizabeth
Elizabeth

Well Christian have come to represent the worst there is in religious America. When you contrast the portrait painted in this article versus the story last week's article followed which seems more cult like to you? A loving successful family or dramatizations that ask the question "if you're not willing to die for Jesus how can you live for Him." I am sick of being subjected to the judgments of any self-righteous evangelical tom, DICK or harry who is so insecure with their own belief system that they feel the need to belittle the faiths of others. The only point you prove in your derisions is the emptiness of your religiosity.

Rhonda
Rhonda

You sir, sound far more like a cultist than this lovely family. So unless you're a mormon, I'd keep my mouth shut. And good luck to them in their quest for world whatever they want to do. I think they'll do a lovely job.

nick werle
nick werle

Mormons are cultists just like Jim Jones and Branch Davidians althought low key.

 
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