A globally renowned kayaker and the 2004 Colorado Recycler of the Year, Dannie and Sharon (Loudenburg) Makris are former Salidans now retired in Woodland Park.
Dannie graduated from Salida High School in 1955 and Sharon 6 years later with the class of 1961.
They met as alumni when they both attended a Salida High School basketball game in Leadville in the early 1960s. After dating for 5 years, the two married in 1968.
Sharon identified music teacher John Held as “one of many great teachers” at Salida High School. She said of about 350 students at the school, approximately 300 were in Held’s choir, making it one of the biggest choirs in the state and especially remarkable for such a small school.
Dannie singled out English and drama teacher Donald Custer as a teacher who had a “great influence” on students.
He recalled once going to basketball practice in preference to drama practice because a big game against rival Leadville was coming up. Custer stormed into the gymnasium “red-faced,” got Dannie and marched him off to the stage.
In 1963, Dannie and his brother Teddy, both unofficially trained on the Arkansas River, represented the United States. in kayaking world championships in Spitall, Austria. Dannie also earned the title national champion in whitewater downriver racing 3 years and national champion in slalom 2 years.
In 1970 the two brothers were hired to do all the kayaking stunts for the Lassie television series, “Pink Snow,” filmed in Durango.
After high school, Sharon worked for 8 years at First National Bank, while Dannie spent 13 years working at Climax Mine. In the early 1970s, a piece of pipe severed Dannie’s Achilles tendon, ending that segment of his professional life.
Beginning in 1973, Sharon worked to support Dannie so he could go to school at Adams State College, where he eventually earned his bachelor’s degree in physical education and industrial arts.
After his graduation, they moved to Woodland Park, where he spent 28 years teaching woodshop and is now in his 42nd year of coaching various high school sports.
In 2004, Sharon was secretly nominated by some of her friends and earned the title Colorado Recycler of the Year.
“It’s hard for me to throw anything away,” she said, adding that the Makris household usually produces one small grocery bag of trash every 6 to 8 weeks.
“She even takes plastics home from restaurants to recycle them,” Dannie reported. He added that she puts fast-food hamburger wrappings, which have aluminum-lined paper and therefore can’t be recycled, in the fireplace and later pulls out the aluminum to recycle.
In their retirement, the couple travel frequently, taking about a 3-week trip every year. Sharon, who had not been out of the country or even very far from Colorado before then, has been to 44 countries in the 12 years of their retirement.
They said they try to come to Salida as often as they can to visit family and so Dannie, who was a FIBArk commodore in the mid-1960s, can ride in the parade with his fellow past commodores.