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The Caretaker Gazette

Facilities/Property Managers - Caretakers Extraordinaire - A Profile of Christopher and Hiroko

Dates of Birth: Christopher: 2/16/52 and Hiroko: 10/1/54
Interests: Kayaking, bicycling, tennis, photography, bonsai, cooking, flower arranging, reading and gardening
Quote: "As long as you watch the way, as long as your steps are steady, as long as your wisdom is unimpaired - so long will you reap profit."

Chris and Hiroko with their baby daughter, Christina!

Chris and Hiroko Soper are a husband and wife caretaking team who were made for the caretaking lifestyle.

Hiroko's career has evolved from her roots in Japan. She first started work as an accountant for eight years. Hiroko wanted to learn English, so she took off to live in England and do volunteer work as an aid in a Methodist home for the elderly while pursuing her English studies.

Upon her return to Japan, she took a job as a tour guide at the Osaka Castle. Hiroko later moved to Boulder, Colorado to attend the English Learning Center at the University of Colorado, where she met Chris.

Since coming to America, Hiroko has done everything from providing day care to waitressing in a sushi restaurant, to being secretary of the California Golf Tours. She is an excellent cook and very accomplished at the art of Ikebana (Japanese flower arrangements).

Chris' background is in property management, the construction trades, solar projects, and the pool and spa industry. He also earned the title of "Master Gardener" from Colorado State University.

In 1984, Chris started a property management company in Boulder. Along with all the leasing and accounting, he began doing all of the maintenance and repairs on the properties too. He met Hiroko and they married a year later. New opportunities brought them to California, where they started C&H Soper Facilities/Property Management.

They became the gardening caretakers for a corporate retreat nestled at the foot of the Santa Cruz Mountains. Their duties and responsibilities at this caretaking job have grown to include setting up a budget, then keeping a detailed accounting for all the maintenance, repairs and supplies, cleaning, gardening and grounds keeping. Chris is in charge of maintaining all of the mechanical systems and out buildings. He's also responsible for overseeing all the capital improvements and construction projects on the property.

Each issue of the GAZETTE features a full-page caretaker profile describing the lifestyle, responsibilities and personalities of people in caretaker jobs.

Index of Caretaker Profiles

Chris supervised the roofing of the main estate and the caretaker's cottage. Being a handyman himself, Chris built a footbridge over the creek that divides the property in half, assisted with the design and installation of the security system, designed and installed landscape lighting throughout the shade garden pathways and the main grounds, constructed a new deck with a custom ceramic tile spa, and updated the kitchen. These are just a few of the projects to Chris' credit. He also trained two k-9 dogs for the security and protection of the property.

An abundance of natural beauty and wildlife make the property very enjoyable. As an example, Chris and Hiroko treasure watching the mallard duck pair return every year to raise their ducklings on a slow, deep bend in the creek. The only problem with the wildlife, besides the gophers and moles in the gardens, is the voracious deer that love to graze on all the delectable and luscious plants in the shade gardens.

The acquisition of the dogs has helped to control the deer's uninvited dining. After a storm blew down a redwood tree, Chris used the bucked up stumps and branches to fashion a very useful fence and bench seating that blend in beautifully with the surrounding environment. "Working with and in nature allows one the chance to pause for a moment to reflect on some of the incredible harmony and beauty on our little planet."

When Chris and Hiroko started coordinating and preparing catered events, stocking the kitchen with cookery, china, food and drink, and then started cooking for guests staying at the estate, their duties went from caretaking and gardening to becoming the "host and hostess of the house" and "bed and breakfast caretakers." Chris acts as bartender and chef for the casual outdoor events and Hiroko prepares the Japanese cuisine at the more formal events.

When corporate guests were not staying at the property, Chris worked full-time providing professional gardening service, renovating and maintaining all of the gardens and grounds. Their vegetable garden makes it possible to keep fresh flowers in the house and fresh veggies on the table.

"This job has allowed us the opportunity to utilize most of our talents and to develop a few new ones. We've been everything from chef to chauffeur, designer to dog trainer, electrician to engineer, gardener to guard, accountant to zinnia picker and everything in between!" Since the birth of their baby daughter last year, day care is the next thing the Sopers will add to their repertoire of services. Chris likes to call their caretaking "facilities management with that personal touch."

Chris and Hiroko hope to bring a little peace, pleasure and harmony into the lives of the people associated with their next caretaking position.


A view of the pool and gardens on the property!