March 11, 2019

Toni Putzi – My Dad

Toni Putzi – My Dad

Marlies Liver and Toni Putzi
25 Years Together – Congratulations! 

A little background: My Dad, Anton “Toni” Putzi was born in Buchen, Switzerland to Dorothea Hartmann (Buchen is near Lundin – not London, England).

Schesaplana House

My Dad grew up in two small neighboring towns – Buchen and Fideris – both in the canton of Graubunden, CH. As a teenager, in nearby Landquart, he successfully completed his apprenticeship as a Tool & Dye Maker.  In german: Maschinist or a Werkzueg und Farbstoffsteller.

Toni Putzi with Grandfather Andreas Hartmann-Willi

In ~1920, Andreas Hartmann-Willi, built their house with his own hands – and named it the Schesaplana. Growing up in the heart
of the Swiss Alps (near Heidiland and Davos), Dad became one of the top downhill skiers in Switzerland.  He is bilingual (German and English) and
a very proud ‘Eni’ – Swiss Grandpa – to Leah & Jenna. 

Toni Putzi – Parsenn Ski Derby ~1950. The Oldest Ski Race in Switzerland. (15 to 25 minute race)

Toni Putzi – 4th Place – Time: ~12 minutes 28 seconds

Notable winners: Nando Pajarola, Josef Minsch, Walter Vesti, Urs Lehmann, Martina Accola and Kristian Ghedina

In the high Alps of Fideris Toni eventually met and fell in love with Greta Walli (Margreth Fry). In Fideris in the 1950’s most people were related, not a lot of opportunity for either to marry someone else –  thus, the fortuitous connection with Mom worked well.  

Dad obviously impressed Mom with his new fancy truck (see below) – with no roof (cabriolet), no windshield, two tiny lights…and all his worldly possessions piled high on the back. Who could resist? A young classy man exuding such coolness – Mom must have melted.

Soon after, on SOME DATE they were married in Fideris at the same Protestant church everyone got married at.

Fancy Truck - "Hey Ladies!!!"

Married, both set their sights on heading towards Canada. Like many Europeans they excitedly loaded their VW Bug and waved good-bye to the entire village of Fideris and neither would ever return to live in Fideris again. At A CITY they loaded their car onto a boat and X DAYS later arrived in MONTREAL.  

Then, in 1966, my Mom and Dad (Mom eight months pregnant) decided to travel 5,000km in their Volkswagen Bug from Montreal to Vancouver, Canada.  They had a staggering $79.00. Both of my parents were unemployed, seeking work, and looking forward to building a life together in Vancouver.  Luckily, an already established Austrian family named The Zimmerman’s offered Toni & Greta (Margreth) a place to survive for their first two months.

After living in Vancouver for  two years – first on Carolina Street, then Arbutus and 16th – then — after Dad received a financial settlement from a head-on collision in Whistler which left him in a coma for over 😥 one month – they then were able to move to the beautifully flat island city (by nature) Richmond.  

In 1971, Dad became the Canadian National Decathlon Champion with Richmond’s esteemed Kajaks Track & Field Club.

Ronnie in Daddy’s gym bag – 1087 Steveston Hwy,
Richmond, BC, Canada

Richmond’s Minoru Oval Track
& Field Meet ~1970

Hand made starting blocks by 1971 Canadian Decathlon Champion Toni Putzi – That’s dedication !!!

Hand made starting blocks by 1971 Canadian Decathlon Champion Toni Putzi -- That's dedication!!!

Later Dad’s passion shifted from track & field to golf where he played and practiced until he became the Club Champion of Richmond’s Quilchina Golf and Country Club.

After my parent’s divorce in 1982 my Dad left Canada and I didn’t see him for approximately 10 years.  We reconnected after my NMSU days once I had moved to play basketball in Europe.

This past year (2014), he became the Senior Amateur European Champion & Swiss Senior National Golf Champion which is admittedly quite remarkable.

During the past 25 years Dad and Marlies Liver have lived in Klosters, Igis, Zurich (Switzerland), or Cape Town, South Africa.  Thankfully, through Skype we can communicate regularly which helps squeeze our inter-continental borders.

Anyway, moving along… next chapters to follow (permission needed)....

Mexico City – 1968 Summer ...Olympic Games (Bob Beeman)

My Dad attended the Summer Olympic Games in Mexico City in 1968. He loved track and field and was keen to attend most events – especially those held at the biggest world stage. On this particular day my Dad was coincidentally directly across the track from the long jump event.  Where it was a little-known sinewy kid from UTEP (University of Texas El Paso – which, darn it, was also my rival school at NMSU) named Bob Beeman who caught his eye – and the rest of the world’s.  Sitting in the unfenced second row, my Dad watched Robert “Bob” Beaman take his first attempt in the long jump.

Even the newly introduced electronic measuring system designed specially for the Olympic Games could not measure the distance of Bob’s jump.  Again, the Olympic’s newest electronic measuring instrument  was maxed out.  After 15 minutes accredited international track and field officials arrived at the long jump pit to manually measure the historic jump.  Other long jumpers too began gathering around to see for themselves what the commotion was about. Then finally after a very long time the officials determined Bob had jumped 8.90 meters (29 feet). Almost 2 feet further than the standing world record.

Bob Beeman’s record held for almost 23 years.  YOUTUBE “The Jump”


Beamon entered the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City as the favorite, having won 22 of the 23 meets he had competed in that year, including a career best of 8.33m (equivalent to 27 ft. 4 in.) and a world’s best of 8.39 m (27 ft. 6 1/2 in.) that was ineligible for the record books due to excessive wind assistance. He came close to missing the final, overstepping on his first two attempts in qualifying. With only one chance left, Beamon re-measured his approach run from a spot in front of the board and made a fair jump that advanced him to the final. There he faced the two previous gold-medal winners, American Ralph Boston (1960) and Lynn Davies of Great Britain (1964), and two-time bronze medallist Igor Ter-Ovanesyan of the Soviet Union.

On October 18, Beamon set a world record for the long jump with a first jump of 8.90m (29 ft. 2 1/2 in.), bettering the existing record by 55 cm (21 3/4 in.). When the announcer called out the distance for the jump, Beamon – unfamiliar with metric measurements – still did not realize what he had done. When his teammate and coach Ralph Boston told him that he had broken the world record by nearly 2 feet, his legs gave way and an astonished and overwhelmed Beamon suffered a brief cataplexy attack brought on by the emotional shock, and collapsed to his knees, his body unable to support itself, placing his hands over his face. In one of the more enduring images of the Games, his competitors then helped him to his feet. The defending Olympic champion Lynn Davies told Beamon, “You have destroyed this event,” and in sports jargon, a new adjective – Beamonesque – came into use to describe spectacular feats.

1972 Summer Olympic Games – Munich, West Germany

After tearing his hamstring at the Canadian Track and Field Championships in Lethbridge, Alberta my Dad still traveled with the Olympic team to Munich. As fate would have it the Canadian Olympic Team in Munich was coincidentally domiciled almost directly beside the Israeli Olympic team. Both my Mom and Dad were witnessing first hand what the world was watching on TV and following through the media.  My Mom watched men (likely police) scaling the apartment walls into position for the inevitable confrontation.

Well, for now I must stop.  I still need to write the remainder of Dad’s life-story, but he'll need to first grant me permission - those stories are truly are interesting - but can wait for now.

4x4 cameling


South Africa

Notes:  To write later

1972 –  Munich Olympic Games (Hostage Taking). My Mom was staying at a friend’s apartment who was literally a stones throw from the Olympic village. Mom remembers there being no more than a 20 meters separation between her and the Israeli’s apartments (albeit over the Olympic Village fence). She too watched the police
scaling the apartment wall – watching until they came evacuating everyone from the area.

1985 -- Dad 's life in China, Japan, and Europe.