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Have You Met?

It’s the way they look at each other that tells you how much they love each other.  Elegant and sophisticated wherever they go, Denise and Ray Bellucci are a welcomed addition to the Denver scene and a pleasure to be around.  Celebrating their 20th anniversary and Denise’s 50th birthday this year, life is good, and the Bellucci’s do everything as a team. Top priority for them is spending time at home with their son Stefen, and two dogs Phoebe and Davey.  Denise and Ray also make time to attend nonprofit events, and they host lovely dinners at their home.   

Denise who is worldly, resilient and has a gorgeous killer smile, is a world-class photographer with an extraordinary eye for detail. She came here for the first time in 1990 as an outdoor sports photographer for her company and fell in love with Colorado.  Her highly-praised photography work took her to many places including California, Idaho, West Virginia, Canada and New York.  In 1995, she returned as Regional Sales & Education Director for ARTec and brought Ray with her.   

Denise says: “When I met Ray, my whole world and outlook changed.  We are two peas in a pod; best friends who do everything together.  Ray and I make each other laugh, have many common threads and communicate well." 

Denise’s grandmother, Rose, involved Denise in the philanthropic world as a young child, and Denise carries on her grandmother's belief: "If you have the privilege of not having to work, you have an obligation to give back to the community." Denise is now active with the Denver Center Alliance, the Cancer League, Rocky Mountain Multiple Sclerosis, Global Down Syndrome Foundation, Ballet Guild – and attends many nonprofit events.  Denise sits on the DCPA Marque Club Board and is also very active with her son's school, Mullen High School.

Ray is an accomplished financial services executive with over 30 years of experience in the investment industry working for TIAA-CREF Financial Services.  Ray’s story reads like the American Dream.  He started out working for the company in the mailroom as an intern in high school at their Manhattan headquarters, and it became his career after graduation moving his way up the ladder to Senior Managing Director.  

Ray through his company is the executive sponsor working with kids at Bruce Randolph High School where most of the families are below the poverty level.  He was a career coach at Manual High School going back to the 90's.  Ray is (or has been) on the boards of: Colorado Succeeds, Ballet Nouveau Colorado, Excelsior Youth Center, and The Downtown Denver Partnership.

Ray Bellucci is warm, funny and mellow and achieved what he has on his own steam.  TIAA-CREF has relied on him to open several of their branch offices, and Ray and Denise have represented the company in the community with much pride. 

With their generous spirit and charm, the Bellucci’s have had no trouble making friends since they moved to Denver from Charlotte, North Carolina in 2008.  Ray posted this loving quote for Denise recently: “My wife is the coolest, sweetest most gorgeous woman I have ever seen…  She is my Best Friend and My Life.”  There is no doubt they both feel the same way about each other.  Happy Valentine’s Day Denise and Ray!

How long have the two of you been married?  This September will be 20 years. 

 How did the two of you meet? Funny story, It was St. Patrick’s Day in 1994 in an Irish Pub in Bayside, NY. Denise just moved back from Colorado and was the designated driver that night. She was being followed by a very big creepy guy, and she was feeling very uneasy since her friends had scattered around the pub and everyone else had been drinking that night.  She was walking  around the bar to see if she know anyone and saw Ray with his friends chatting it up with the bartender. She walked up to to Ray and said, “Can you act like you are with me, that big guy behind me has been fallowing me around the bar, and I don’t feel right about it.” The rest was history.  

Tell us about your first date? We went out to dinner at Jimmy’s Back Yard in Port Washington, and afterwards shot golf balls into the bay across the street from Denise’s uncle’s house. Which is ironic because neither one of us are big golfers.

When you first met, what is the first thing you noticed about each other?  Denise:  I loved his smile. It made me feel as if he was a good guy and was a safe person. To me at that time was and still is so important.  Ray:  It was her platinum blonde hair, a green leotard and bongo jeans.  I remember the next morning telling my mother I met the most beautiful girl in the world, but didn't remember what she looked like.

As a couple, what are your priorities?  Family is the most important thing to us... period.  Our son is our world, helping him grow into an incredible, successful, caring person is so imperative.  Also, making sure we make time to reach each other and enjoy life.

What qualities do you admire in each other? Denise:  Ray is my best friend. I admire the man he is and his conviction to his family and his career. He is there when I need him and understands at times my past affects my present, and he is OK with that. To see him with Stefen is fascinating - they are more like brothers then father/son which at times is hard, but he doesn’t have this need to rule with an iron fist so it is incredible to watch.   He is caring, funny  and yes at times absent-minded which makes him, him. Ray: Denise too is my best friend and the love of my life. She gives herself to others and is unquestionably the most selfless and loving person I’ve ever met.  

 What do you have most in common? Our values … family first, enjoy life, don’t fight over money and take time to smell the roses.  Life isn’t about being everywhere always, it’s about enjoying the moment you’re in, it’s about the everyday moments that makes us know we love each other. 

They say sometimes opposites attract; if you had to pick, what is the most different thing about the two of you? When we first met, Denise was an outdoors person, and Ray was a “suit.” Denise was also a slob, and Ray was completely OCD. Funny how after 20 years, we have met closer in the middle. We know both enjoy the outdoors as well as business functions. As for the other… ok closer to the neat side, but we both have given in to make the other feel more relaxed. 

Where do both of you like to go for a romantic dinner anywhere here in Colorado? We have two favorite restaurants.  Bistro Vendome in Denver and L’atelier in Boulder.  If you couldn’t guess,  we love French food!

What is your favorite vacation spot? We love Europe, Mexico and the DR but to be honest, our favorite vacation place is up at our condo in Keystone. It’s small and cozy but there is something to be said about being in the Colorado Rockies any season of the year. It’s a very Zen place for us. It is where we decompress.  

What do you plan on doing for Valentine's Day this year?  We go to L’atelier every Valentine’s Day since we have been back in Colorado. So - That is where we will be. 

You are known as one of the most charitable couples in town; what non-profits are you involved with now? Since we have been back in Denver for 7 years, we have gotten involved with many charities. Some we have more time for involvement than others.   Ray is on the Board of Community Health Charities as well as several major business boards in Denver - Downtown Denver Partnership and Colorado Succeeds. Denise is involved with DCA and volunteers on these gala committees: Rocky Mountain MS, Global Down Syndrome Foundation, Cancer League, Invisible Disabilities, and Mullen High School. She is charing the protocol dinner for the Denver Ballet Guild Bal de Ballet and is on the DCPA Marquee Board.  We are financial supporters of other charities since we didn’t have the time to be more involved...Book Trust, Kempe Foundation, CASA, National Jewish Hospital, Bessie’s Hope, Denver Public School Foundation,  Foothills Animal Shelter, Metro Cares, Colorado Neurological Institute.  I know there are more but can’t think of them. 

What is a charitable event(s) you look forward to attending each year? There are so many great events held each year for so many deserving charities that we go to besides the one we are involved with. We always enjoy DCPA Saturday Night Alive, Western Fantasy, Beaux Arts Ball and Global Down Gala, since they are done on such a grand scale. 

What is the biggest challenge each of you have ever had?  Denise: Trusting people. I am a very private person. Many people know me, but very few know much about me which was funny when I said yes to this because it goes against just this. Ray: I can’t say no to Denise.  

In your opinion, what does it take to get to that special place known as "wedded bliss?"  Truly there is no such thing, but compromise and understanding helps. Marriage takes work  - Trying to let go of the little things so when something major comes along it doesn’t stop your whole world. Just taking time for one another. Enjoying the daily routine, the smile when you say have a nice day see you later, always telling the other person you love them. That is something you can never say enough. Always putting the other person first. You can't take life too seriously; you need to be each other's best friend, and you can't commit to a marriage thinking it will always be perfect.

What are your priorities as a couple? Family is the most important thing to us… period. Our son is our world, helping him grow into an incredible, successful, caring person is so imperative. Also, making sure we make time for each other and to enjoy life.

You have a fabulous, talented son Stefen.... Tell us about some of his involvements in school, and what he would like to do in the future? Yes he is fabuous - thank you for saying. He is enjoying his junior year at Mullen High School. He is on the Mullen Mock Trial Team. He too is involved in charity work. Each year he volunteers for the American Heart Association’s  Heart Walk, University of Colorado’s Foundation Buffalo Bicycle Classic, Denver Public School’s Foundation “Clean Up” of Bruce Randolph High School. He also sits on the board of Rolling Hill’s Junior Foundation Board. We are starting to look at colleges which seem to be located all on the east coast - good thing we have family in NY. He thinks he wants to be a lawyer with an undergrad in international business. But then again, Political Science is also a passion of his. 

Tell us about a great Bellucci family tradition?  We really don’t have traditional traditions. All three of us have always done everything together and never really thought to have a need to do the same thing to make something special. We travel together and have new adventures each year so I guess you can say our tradition is to experience new places and things. 

What have your experiences taught you about life?  To not take life for granted. That at any moment things can change, to enjoy the little things in life. To not wait for a holiday or birthday to show your partner you love them. We don’t give each other gifts for birthdays or holidays, we usually go to dinner. We like to surprise each other at any time during the year with a big gift - just cause' we love each other not cause' we have to.   

What are you most looking forward to in the future? I mean yes the typical answer would be growing old with each other, but we are really excited to see what Stefen does with his life. To have a grandchild ( if lucky) to have fun with and continue enjoying life with more family memories.   As for just us, trying to stay young at heart while growing old in body. ;)  

How do both of you want to be remembered by future generations? As a couple that wanted to help. That was fun to be around, real and enjoyed each other and our friends. That didn’t take life too seriously. :)