Retirement can be either a curse or a blessing, it completely depends on the person. For Joey and Tara Passarelli, this turned out to be the last.

Born and raised in Salida, the couple have known each other since childhood and married in 1992.

Joey attended Western State in Gunnison while Tara completed cosmetology in their early years and also fostered their children, Christopher and Dominique, during this time.

Although Joey initially took a job as an elementary school teacher, life took them in a different direction when he accepted a position with the Department of Corrections in 1993 – a move that brought them to Cañon City.

The years passed in family bliss as Tara worked as a diligent stay-at-home mom and in her father’s electrician business, and Joey was a constant force in federal prison. They built a beautiful home for their family that overlooked both Four Mile Creek and Four Mile Ranch Golf Club and became part of the Cañon City community as their children grew up to attend both Harrison School and the CCHS.

Joey retired in 2016 and the couple made sure to keep busy.

Tara enjoys participating in Fit 101, owned by Tiffany Javernick, and attends regular classes that provide a fun and exhilarating outing. Joey, while perhaps not tempted to attend classes, also helps Fit 101 by building workout equipment, such as plyometric boxes, and the couple also regularly enjoy helping out with different events and retreats run by the gymnasium.

“If anyone needs help, it’s always good to get it,” Joey said. “If you treat people the way you want to be treated, that’s the right thing to do.”

The couple welcomed their first grandchild, Linley, in 2021 and really love to spoil her. This includes letting him play in the miniature western town that Joey built entirely in front of their house.

The project had its humble beginnings almost 10 years ago when Joey built a miniature outbuilding to cover a rather unsightly wire box. The small outhouse sat around for many years before, in 2019, Joey decided it was time to add to his vibe.

Just in time for the eruption of the pandemic, a line of Old West style buildings seemingly began to sprout from the ground as Joey got to work. His many skills in building and repairing things came in very handy as a miniature parlor, school, blacksmith stable, post office and many more came along with the outhouse.

Tiny glass bottles and bar stools populate the salon, a redone barber chair sits in the barber shop, and all the doors open to reveal a myriad of charming details. Although perhaps a little macabre, a perfectly sized (and functional) gallows also adorns the town.

However, the life of the Passarellis, in many forms, is spread throughout the city. #27, Joey’s high school football number, is in a building, while the doctor’s office is named after his father, Anthony.

Old telephone numbers and vouchers adorn the carriages that travel the tracks to an abandoned mine and three small houses ring the outskirts – each named after the ladies of the family. Dominique, Tara and Carol (Tara’s mother) all had the opportunity to help design and decorate their tiny homes. Each house sports different curtains, doorknobs, and overall personality, just like the loving family does.

Tara spends much of her time scrapbooking and has successfully recorded many parts of their lives. She had many boxes of photos to sort through to go along with this article and loved wandering down memory lane.

“I really enjoyed chronicling our kids,” laughed Tara.

“We’re just being home,” Joey added with a smile.

And they are content with a vast arid garden of multiple cacti and desert plants that accompany their charming western town. A family-built bridge stretches from the courtyard to the desert garden, charmingly bordered by modified blue glass airport runway lights – a testament to Tara’s family who worked on these lights as electricians.

The Passarellis regularly entertain their adult children and new granddaughter by hosting barbecues, where Joey pours himself on the grill.

“He’s nurturing,” Tara said of her husband. “We’re just having a good time.”

“My grandma always fed everybody,” Joey said.

It turned out to be a tradition that he and Tara were more than happy to continue.

Yes, indeed, retirement has been a rich blessing for the Passarellis.