One-hundred carat gramma | PostIndependent.com

One-hundred carat gramma

Kay Vasilakis
kay@postindependent.com
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Kay Vasilakis Post IndependentGolfing buddies Penny Sykes, left, and Tish Filiss enjoy golf and lunch at Rifle Creek Golf Course.
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SILT, Colorado – When you are in the company of Tish Filiss, you become aware she knows most everyone in Garfield County. She’s a non-stop bundle of energy, and even when she’s sitting down, she’s most always keeping her hands busy with her knitting. And talking.

She came to the Roaring Fork Valley in 1968, when she became a ski instructor for the Aspen Ski Corp. and did the waitressing thing in the off-season.

She was raised in a small town in upstate New York, in the heart of the Catskill Mountains. She lived there until she went to college at the University of Colorado.

Tish was a stay-at-home mom, and she still considers raising her four children the most important job of her life.

“I guess that has been, and always will be, where my heart lies,” she said. “In being the best parent I can possibly be and in that way, acting locally and thinking globally.”

It seemed an obvious transition to become a Home Visitor for The Family Visitor Program, where she helped other parents be the best they could be. Tish worked for Family Visitor for 17 years, and then worked as a case manager for the Yampah Teen Parent Program for several years.

After retiring from The Family Visitor Programs and the Yampah Teen Parent Programs, she wondered what her next step would be. Her husband’s company was in dire need of an office manager. Although she had no training in office management or bookkeeping, she decided to tackle it. The job has provided a major learning curve, which she found nice at her age, which she won’t disclose.

“I’ve found meeting the challenge of starting from scratch on a new job can be pretty stimulating, that maybe you can teach an old dog new tricks.”

Tish and her husband Dean Filiss live 12 miles south of Silt in the refurbished Fairview Schoolhouse (one-room schoolhouse), in the middle of a wide valley surrounded by ranches, cows and hayfields. They bought the property in 1977, which also housed a church. It took them one year to turn it into their home, doing most of the work themselves.

Now they’re doubling the size of the home by adding a second story to house kids and grandkids, and room for a yoga studio.

If you ask Tish what she likes to do, your head will spin. She said, “Time with our three grandkids is a given, knitting is a passion, golf is an obsession, gardening is a joyful chore. I never thought I’d like yoga, but I love it, cross-country skiing is heavenly, dancing and singing (when given the right time and place), and socializing with just about anyone, anytime.”

Tish’s grandmother taught her to knit during a summer vacation when she was eight years old. Now it’s a multi-generational hobby she shares with her daughters, and she just began teaching her granddaughters. She loves to use natural fibers and hand-painted yarn, and creates some of her own patterns. She is convinced knitting as well as golf keeps her brain active.

Tish and her husband are members of the Rifle Creek Golf Course, which they prefer, because, “There’s a sense of community here. It’s close to my home, it’s absolutely beautiful and it’s affordable. Golf gets me outside in the beauty of nature. It’s a great sport to share with my husband, it makes for wonderful travel vacations and there is nothing better than golf to keep you focused on one thing at a time … to hit the darn ball!”

Tish somehow makes time to be a citizen representative for the Garfield County Human Services Commission, and is also active in two of its subcommittees.

“I love having my finger on the variety of issues which make up Human Services,” she said. “Affordable housing is the most important issue of the county, along with how to keep our economy going in these hard times. Oil and gas development has its pros and cons, and I think we need to work hard to keep them in balance. Adequate and available health care for the children of our county is another concern of mine. All of the clinics and hospitals need to take some responsibility for that.”

No one is a more devoted mother and grandmother than Tish Filiss. Her lucky children are Brian, Theresa, Max and Grace. Her even luckier grandchildren are Olivia, 12; Sophie, 9; and Charlie, 1 1/2.

She has created her own tradition ” Tuesdays with Gramma ” which she has faithfully carried out and looked forward to for 12 years.

“Having them close enough to see them all the time is a blessing,” she said. “It’s a repeat of an unconditional love relationship and it’s just fun. I have the luxury of really making time stop, to be present in the moment. They know they have my total undivided attention.”

You know what? Tish doesn’t think she’s interesting at all.


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