Born in 1911, Dominic “Nick” Venetucci grew up on a farm in Papeton. He was one of seven children of Italian immigrants Nicholas and Margarita Venetucci. As a young man, Nick excelled at baseball and played catcher on a New York Yankee’s Minor League Team in the early 1930s. He quickly advanced, moving from Class D to Class A in just one season. Due to the Great Depression, Nick abandoned his major league dreams to save the family farm. He then spent the rest of his life farming first with his brothers and later his wife.
Bambina “Bambi” Marcantonio Venetucci was born with severe visual impairments and in 1936 at seven years old, moved to Colorado Springs to attend the Colorado School for the Death and the Blind (CSDB). To further her dream to teach children like her, she enrolled at the University of Colorado Boulder where she was the first blind student, but transferred to complete her degree. In 1954, Bambi began teaching at CSDB where she flourished in the classroom. The state later honored her in 1983 as Teacher of the Year. She eventually wrote a book, Dammi la Mano: Give Me Your Hand, on her experiences.
Nick and Bambi Venetucci met in 1957 while attending St. Mary’s Cathedral. Bambi befriended Nick’s sister and Nick became interested when she called the family home. Captivated by her voice, Nick ignited a 27-year long courtship by leaving a basket of vegetables at her apartment. The couple finally married in 1984 after Bambi retired from teaching.
Nick Venetucci first gave free pumpkins to local children in the 1950s by parking his truck on Tejon Street. A teacher noticed and asked to bring students to the farm, beginning a tradition that lasted until 2002. Each year, the Venetuccis hosted 40,000 to 50,000 schoolchildren. Nick guided children around the farm, while Bambi scheduled and organized busses of students as well as other groups. The couple never had children of their own, but looked at local students who visited the farm as theirs.
The community in turn appreciated the Venetuccis. The couple received artwork from schoolchildren and community awards, including the Range Riders Silver Spur Award and the Governor’s School Volunteer of the Year. Nick considered the renaming of South Elementary School as Venetucci Elementary in 1986 the greatest honor of his life. When hail ruined the harvest in 1989, Pinello Elementary School gave the Venetuccis a 100-pound carved pumpkin. Later in 1995 when Nick broke his pelvis, Widefield High School Ecology students assisted with the harvest. After a drought ruined the crop in 2002, students at Pikes Peak Elementary School gave the Venetuccis hand drawn pumpkins. A final testament is the Pennies for Pumpkins drive by 15 area school districts to fund the Venetucci sculpture on the North side of the museum’s grounds.
Generously Submitted by Caitlin Sharpe, CSPM Registrar