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Theresa Richter is a Harvey Park neighborhood icon: Kenny Be's Hip Tip

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The color scheme of the Harvey Park logo shown above pays homage to the colorful, nationally renowned jazz-age orchestra leader and his sprawling Black and White Ranch, on which the southwest Denver neighborhood was built...

Born in Denver in 1890, Paul Whiteman was a classically trained violinist who would gain national recognition as a jazz-influenced band leader best known for a string of number-one hits that started with "Rhapsody in Blue" and ended with "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes."

Whiteman purchased the Black and White Ranch, eight miles south of downtown Denver, in the early 1920s as a retirement gift for his father, Wilberforce Whiteman, a West Denver High School music teacher who had dreams of being a farmer. To enhance the ranch's name, Wilberforce had big plans to raise black-and-white cattle, as well as pigs and chickens, but he lacked the skill and eventually sold out.

Harvey Park was named for Arthur "Tex" Harvey, who bought the Black and White Ranch in 1948 for $158,000. With the help of a developer, Harvey built 1,662 homes on the 318 acres surrounding his ranch house for a tidy profit of $30 million, and petitioned Denver for annexation in 1953. The giving nature and good fortune of these two pioneers continues to this day in Harvey Park native Theresa Richter...

Envied across the neighborhood for her thick hair, practically perfect children and coordinated-casual wardrobe, Theresa Richter has won the hearts of Harvey Parksters with her brilliant smile and loyal commitment to the special educational needs of children challenged by autism spectrum disorders.

Theresa Richter started her work with special needs students at the Denver Public School nearest her home. At Doull Elementary, she met other educators who believed that a small school with a controlled environment would have a greater educational impact on children with autism and developmental disabilities. In 2005, she quit her job, cashed in her savings and joined five other educators to open the Joshua School, a private, nonprofit educational and therapeutic day treatment center for individuals and families challenged and enriched by autism spectrum disorders and developmental disabilities.

In her spare time, Theresa enjoys fine wine, funny stories, and farming. Being a homebody, she is able to pursue these gregarious activities from her organically decorated home. With neighbors like Theresa, Paul Whiteman would be proud that his gift ranch just keeps on giving in Harvey Park.

More from our Kenny Be/Comics archive: "Mike Rusconi is a Speer neighborhood icon: Kenny Be's Hip Tip."

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Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.


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