9 months ago

Granby Living Mar2018


FAMILY FEATURE The Gotberg Family Move from Chicago area was part homecoming, part cow-welcome By Bruce Deckert Photos by Amy Geigner Among the contrasts between life in Greater Chicago and Granby, perhaps one stands out — the apparent omnipresence of cows here in town. Gary and Brita Gotberg moved from Des Plaines, Illinois (just outside Chicago) to Granby in 2006. For many years, Gary taught in a large Illinois school district, but then he became a physics teacher at Granby Memorial High School. In his first year at GMHS, Gary learned a key difference between teaching in the Chicago suburbs compared to a small Connecticut town. One of his students came into class looking exhausted, as if he hadn’t slept at all. Gary asked why he was so tired. The student replied, “Do you know hard it is to find a cow in the woods at night?” This wasn’t a novel twist on “the dog ate my homework” — the student actually had been up all night looking for a loose cow. “I had never heard that excuse in Greater Chicago,” Gary says. 4 | MARCH 2018

“Otto looked out our front window and saw cows walking down the middle of the street. It was such a thrill for a 3-year-old.” — Brita Gotberg For Brita, the move to Granby was a homecoming. Born in Worcester, Massachusetts, she originally moved to Granby her first week of first grade when her dad became pastor of Pilgrim Covenant Church in town. “We love the beautiful landscape, farms and open space in Granby,” she says. “We love sitting on our porch in the summer when the cows are grazing in the field behind our house.” The Gotbergs’ oldest son, Otto, has also had a cow epiphany or two. “When Otto was very little,” Brita says, “he was so surprised when he looked out at the backyard and saw a cow in our sandbox!” But as it turns out, cows in Granby aren’t confined to woods, fields and sandboxes. “Later that week,” Brita continues, “Otto looked out our front window and saw cows walking down the middle of the street. It was such a thrill for a 3-year-old.” Besides Otto, who is now 11, two more sons grace the Gotbergs’ home: Gus, 9, and Arne, 5. Otto (fifth grade) and Gus (third) both attend Wells Road Intermediate School, while Arne attends Valley Pre-School in Granby. This year his grandmother — Sally Moon, Brita’s mom — is one of his teachers. “All three of our boys went to Valley Pre- School and they each had their grandma as a teacher,” Brita says. Brita, 40, has a multifaceted resume. She works for Granby Youth Services as coordinator for two noteworthy programs: Women on the Way (or W.O.W.!), which seeks to empower and inspire high school girls, and the Youth Action Council (YAC), a leadership group for high school students. Brita is a justice of the peace, too, and enjoys designing unique wedding ceremonies. She also is one of the directors of Kaleidoscope Corner, the Sunday school program at South Congregational Church — where her dad, the Rev. Dennis Moon, is senior pastor. Further, she helps teach the extended day program, Catapult, at Valley Pre-School. Gary, 51, likewise invests in the Granby community, beyond his career at GMHS. He helps organize concerts for the Salmon Brook Music Series hosted by South Church. “The small venue provides an intimate musical experience with a variety of musical genres, big names in music and local musicians,” he notes. A high school musician provides the opening act for each show. In other news, Gary has recently co-written the third edition of “Is This Really Your Book?” More info on the inventive and humorous book can be found at Brita and Gary share an alma mater, North Park University in Chicago (known as North Park College when he graduated). Born in Detroit, Gary says he loves the city’s pro sports teams: the Lions, Tigers and Pistons, along with the University of Michigan teams. His three sons share his athletic fandom. “I do not love that these teams often make them cry,” Brita quips. Gary and Brita’s relationship was sparked by a simple trip to the grocery store. They were both living in Evanston, Illinois, and had become acquainted through mutual friends, but had only shared a few conversations when Brita accepted a job on Cape Cod in 2002. Just before she moved, she encountered Gary at a grocery store — and they hit it off. “We each resisted the impulse to ask the other over for dinner,” Gary says. Instead, they thought their friendship might end before it really began. “We left the grocery store feeling really sad that we would probably never see each other again,” Brita observes. Two years later, Brita was still living on Cape Cod, but she and Gary reconnected through email in August 2004. That autumn, they traveled frequently from Cape Cod to Chicago. Rather than prolong a long-distance relationship, they were married that December ... and eventually landed in a certain town in northcentral Connecticut. “We love our neighborhood in Granby,” Brita says. “There are so many wonderful people who would do anything for you. We’re glad that our kids have friends who can walk to our house. ... Last year Gus’ second-grade teacher moved in next door. He was so excited!” Brita adds that she appreciates that “my kids feel known [in town] and have important adults in their life from school, sports and church.” She observes that many people from her growing-up years in Granby are still around. continued on page 6 GRANBY LIVING | 5

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