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How a Denver7 commercial started a journey of discovery, memory, and positivity for a local family

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Posted at 6:54 AM, Mar 11, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-11 08:54:30-04

DENVER — Since November, Denver7 has been celebrating 70 years on air. As part of that, the station released several promotional commercials marking the 70-year anniversary, chock full of historical videos and former anchors and reporters, leading up to video of today’s station and staff.

One of those commercials, or a very small part of one, would end up meaning the world to one local family.

Vickie Tolve is what you would call a loyal Denver7 fan. So, when the station rolled out those 70th Anniversary commercials, it was just a matter of time before she saw one of them in particular.

“I was on the couch talking to my sister. The TV was on Channel Seven,” she described. “But it was muted. And I saw my dad — like just that quick second.”

A few shots into that commercial, there was a one second clip of black and white footage, showing a weatherman on an old TV set.

“And I told her, ‘Oh my god, I just saw dad.’ And she's like, 'Really? Why? What do you mean?’ I said, 'He’s on TV. He was on a commercial,’” Tolve said.

Her father began working at the station when it first started in the 1950s.

“His name is Vernon Albert Thimyan. And they called him Tim most of the time,” she said.

And Tim was no ordinary weatherman.

“He was an engineer supervisor,” Vickie said.

Tim wasn’t a weatherman at all.

Vickie said her family believes that the folks in the studio basically told Tim to pretend to be a weatherman while they fiddle with the camera.

Vickie’s dad passed away in 1996. She had never seen that clip of him before.
“My son said, 'You need to try to get ahold of Channel 7 and get that footage,'" she said. “And (we) found the creative producer James."

James Dougherty and the Denver7 Creative Services team helped put that commercial together.

“They reached out and they said, 'Hey, there's a second in this promo of yours. Is there more of it?' And the the reality is, yeah, there was a lot more of it,” James said.

He sent a longer clip of black and white footage that had been pulled off of film to Vickie and her family. It shows Tim, in a suit jacket and bow tie, standing in front of a weather set. There is no audio in the clip to identify whether he was giving a microphone check or testing out a new set, but at times it appears he is simply goofing off.

“Oh, I played that over and over — I can't tell you how many times. And just sitting here smiling the whole time,” Vickie said, after rewatching that clip with Denver7 anchor Jason Gruenauer.

Back at the station, James Dougherty now had more information from the family about Tim, who he was, and when he worked at the station. So he kept digging, finding even more photos of the longtime engineer.

“So, originally, this was one of our favorite photos when we found it. Turns out, it was him," James said, holding up a black and white photo of Tim in what appears to be a workshop, with a pipe in his mouth, repairing something.

That photo is now proudly printed out at Vickie’s home. Vickie had never seen that picture or several others from the station archives. One photo showed a set of women, the wives of the engineers of Denver7, including Tim’s wife and Vickie’s mom, Wanda.

Vickie showed the Denver7 promo and the longer clip of footage to her mom.

“She did smile. She did say, ‘Oh yeah, that's Tim,’” Vickie said.

At 92 years old, that memory might be the best thing to come from a quick clip of an engineer in a bow tie.

“It was just like all the life and the happiness and the smiles,” Vickie explained. “This just meant everything to me.”

It took Denver7 70 years on television to get to the point of making their anniversary commercials. It took only one second of one of those commercials to bring a family together.

“We have been talking about my dad since we saw that commercial. We have started looking through pictures and remembering things,” Vickie said. “It brought up a lot of happiness, and a lot of funny times. A lot of smiles, a lot of love.”

Photos of her dad and her family now cover Vickie’s dining room table. She said she will treasure not only the photos and the video clips of her dad, but the experience of uncovering this brand new family history alongside her mom and her sister.

“This was just the best gift to me,” she said.