Checking Off an 80th Birthday Bucket List

Every SunRiver resident moves to the community with a bucket list of things he or she has always wanted to try. Some join the lawn bowling group; others take up pottery or leatherworking once they retire. For 80-year-old Gary Reich, one particular thing had been at the top of his personal bucket list since he was young: driving a bulldozer.

With this fact about her husband in mind, Gary’s wife Cleo knew exactly what to do to celebrate his 80th birthday.


“For years and years, every time we would drive past any kind of construction, he would always say ‘wouldn’t it be fun to do that?’” said Cleo.

Having been retired for 27 years after a full career as a communications coordinator between AT&T and Western Electric, Gary and his wife moved to SunRiver a little over a year ago and now split their time between St. George and Salt Lake City.

Orchestrating the massive surprise, Cleo gathered a dozen of the Reichs’ closest family and friends at the SunRiver Villas construction site to give Gary the opportunity to check this particular dream off his bucket list.

“Hiding it was so difficult,” said Cleo, surrounded by the couple’s friends and family as they waited for Gary and his son to arrive. “We’ve been texting back and forth for weeks and SunRiver offering to pitch in took the surprise to a completely different level.”


With the help of SunRiver Construction, Gary got a crash course in operating an excavator and a bulldozer on the new development’s construction site, much to his shock and Cleo’s delight.

“He had a grin on his face the whole time,” said the Reich’s son, Gary Todd. “He was literally speechless.”

After he had moved plenty of dirt, Gary was all smiles and enthusiastically volunteered himself to help out the next time SunRiver’s construction crew needed someone to bulldoze.

“Uh oh,” said Cleo, with a laugh. “Maybe I’ve opened up a can of worms…”