July 2021 Newsletter

The latest in our series…

People of the Park:

Denny & Breta Jackson


Dale Dauten

What do professional bowling, gourds, a crime lab and Old West fast draw have in common? We got to hear about them all, and much more, talking with Resort residents Denny and Breta Jackson.


It was gourds that played a role in the Jacksons discovering The Resort. It turns out that Arizona is a hotbed of gourd art. Every year (at least when there’s not a pandemic) over ten thousand people descend on Casa Grande for the Running of the Gourds, with over a hundred artist and vendor booths, live music and classes, all in addition to the actual “running,” which turns out to be a race of “gourdsters,” miniature cars made of gourds.

(Photo from the Running of the Gourds festival)

Back in 2014, friends of the Jacksons, knowing that Breta was a gourd artist, persuaded them that they needed to come out from Omaha to visit Arizona. The Jacksons called around and found a month-long rental at The Resort.

You know what happened next: They came to The Resort for a month. The next year they came back for two months… and they ended up buying a place.

Not only have they been back every winter, they’re now contemplating becoming year-rounders. As Denny sais, “I didn’t know if I’d like the desert, but I fell in love. It has its own beauty.” And Breta added, “There are great people at The Resort – we’ve met special friends there.”


But let’s back up. Both Denny and Breta are originally from Iowa and that’s where they met. Denny recalled that first meeting: “ I was going to college at Northern Iowa and like a lot of people in college, we used to drink a little beer. Every Tuesday my roommates and I had a party. During one of those parties, Breta walked in with the fullback of the football team. I thought to myself, ‘Oh. My. God.’ And I spent the next week hoping she’d come back to the next party, and he wouldn’t.” That’s just what happened. As Breta put it, “We’ve been joined at the hip ever since.”

Denny went on to get a degree in Education and taught school for five years while Breta worked for an insurance agency before the pair had three children. They decided they didn’t want to scrape by on a teacher’s salary, so when Denny’s dad decided to retire and sell his bowling pro shop, Denny and Breta bought it. For the next twenty years they worked together, wholesaling and retailing bowling equipment. They did a lot of bowling along the way — so much so that Denny joined the Senior Pro Bowling Tour and competed around the country. (The highlight of his time on tour was setting a PBA record: a 249 average on a ten-game block. He was also inducted into Nebraska’s Bowling Hall of Fame and both Denny and Breta are in Omaha’s Bowling Hall of Fame.)

(The photo below was taken in their business, Midwest Bowling & Billiard Supply.)

Eventually, though, they decided to sell the business and start new careers. Breta went to work for U.S. Bank, ending up in the trust department where her work included the pleasant job of informing beneficiaries what they were about to inherit. Meanwhile, Denny took on a very different role: he went to work at a Crime Lab, becoming one of three people responsible for evidence for all crimes committed in Omaha. “The work was interesting but demanding,” Denny said. “It was eight hours of intense concentration.”

That ended in 2008, when Denny retired, and eventually Breta joined him, retiring from the bank the following year.


The couple did not lack for things to do in retirement. For one thing, Denny got to spend more time with his woodcarving. He became President of the largest wood carving club in the country and was a regular at an annual convention held at Doane College. Meanwhile, Breta developed her love of gourd art and the two of them travelled the country, giving classes. Here are a few examples of their talents, as displayed on their website, woodensoulsandgourds.com.

Since coming to The Resort, Denny has found a new object to carve: flutes. That’s thanks to Dave Kemppainen, better known as Doctor Dave and his giant drum named Thunderbear. Dr. Dave persuaded Denny to add his flute playing to Dave’s drumming. (Denny recently got a call from Dr. Dave who asked, “Are you practicing?” Denny asked why he was asking, and Dr. Dave replied, “I have us signed up for four gigs.”)

Then, as if Denny didn’t have enough to work on, he fell into participating in Cowboy Fast Draw competitions. He explained: “We dress in 1870’s cowboy garb and use single-action .45 revolvers with wax bullets. The shoot-outs are with targets that are 15 feet away. There’s a light in the middle of the target that flashes and the competition is to see who’s fastest on five draws. You have to hit the target – it’s 17 inches – three out of five draws. The draws take less than half a second.”


Doing Fast Draw undoubtedly takes fast reflexes and a clear mind, so it made sense when Denny told us he got a lot of advice from his mom, but none more useful than that old bit of wisdom, “Never let ‘em see you sweat.” Denny recalled how that advice was helpful in his professional bowling days: “When I’d see one of my competitors getting upset, maybe getting angry and kicking the rack of balls, that ‘never let ‘em see you sweat’ would come back to me and I knew I had them, that they’d be making mistakes.”

Speaking of not sweating, the Jacksons are off to Omaha for the summer but look for them to return in early Fall. Denny told us, “The first cold day here and we’re on our way.”


Activities Director Margie Koboski passed along this message from Memorial Day…

A Memorial Day potluck and Celebration was held at The Resort, honoring all Veterans and featuring a POW-MIA table. Michele Curtis read the meaning of the table and the items on it.

Thanks to Fran and Michele Curtis for doing this wonderful presentation. It was appreciated by all.

Photos courtesy of Karen Shaffner


Some new photos from The Resort’s fountain, taken by Brenda Johnson.


Activities Director Margie Koboski asked us to pass along this note to Minnesotans:

Due to medical reasons, your current party coordinator is unable to put together the party for 2022. She would like to set up committees for each responsibility. Please call Cheri at 952-237-0233 if you are willing to help.