A “Can-Do” Spirit: Gerry Leary and “Devyn”

Blind since infancy, Fidelco client Gerry Leary, a Boulder, CO resident, says he’ll try everything and always had trouble with words “no” and “can’t.” Gerry’s determination, confidence, and entrepreneurial spirit have helped him throughout his life.

Gerry was matched with his first Fidelco guide dog, “Devyn,” in 2018. A friend and Fidelco client urged him to apply, and the In-Community Placement training model “sealed the deal”- he could train and continue to work.

Gerry walking with his guide Devyn and a volunteer puppy raiser Nancy Handley at Fidelco's annual Octoberfest event.
Gerry and “Devyn” with Volunteer Puppy Raiser Nancy Handley at Fidelco’s annual Octoberfest event.

Gerry grew up in California and says he was lucky that his parents were supportive of his life-long curiosity and confidence he could do everything sighted children could do. His mother taught him simple cooking when he was three or four years old because she knew he would use the stove on his own and wanted him to be safe. Recognizing Gerry’s curiosity about cars, his father, an auto mechanic, began teaching him by letting him work on cars in their home garage. Like his other siblings, Gerry was expected to do household chores and participate in family sporting events.

Gerry’s interest in car maintenance grew as he got older, and as a teenager he spent much of his time at a local garage. Because of the training he received from his father and his highly developed sense of hearing, Gerry could determine when a car’s noises indicated a mechanical problem and would tell the station’s owner what repairs he thought were needed. Despite being told by others that a person who is blind could never become a car mechanic, Gerry was finally offered a job and worked in this field for 40 years, eventually opening his own garage in 1984.

Gerry decided to try a different career after years as a car mechanic- becoming a Master Coffee Roaster. His interest in coffee began after visiting a San Francisco cafe in 1994. When he couldn’t secure an apprenticeship in the coffee business locally, Gerry traveled to San Francisco to train at the Coffee Training Institute and West Coast Specialty Coffee Company where he became a Master Coffee Roaster. The training was costly, and he borrowed money and refinanced his home, believing that the sacrifice would ultimately be worth it. After returning home, Gerry began roasting with a tiny roaster in a shed in his backyard. Despite the inherent challenge of not being able to see the coffee beans he selected nor the roasting process, he worked diligently, creating a log of each roasting trial and used the sound and smell of the roasting beans to perfect his craft.

After several months, Gerry began selling quarter pound bags of his coffee to friends. When no roasters would hire him, he founded his own specialty coffee roasting company in 2003 called The Unseen Bean. Gerry found commercial space, bought a large roaster, and opened a roastery and a coffee shop; the shop closed in 2019. Rebounding in 2022, Gerry partnered with two Italian coffee lovers and opened a new coffee roasting facility which sells over 20 varieties of coffee and coffee-related products to retail and wholesale customers. In addition to selling his products at the roastery, Gerry and Devyn travel to outdoor music festivals and amateur radio conventions throughout the country selling his specialty coffees.

Gerry kneeling and smiling at camera while putting his left arm around Devyn, a sable GSD, who is also looking at camera.
Gerry and “Devyn”

“Devyn is wired to work and can’t wait to put on her harness and get going. She’s my best buddy and is involved in most of my activities, including traveling to sell my coffee. She hangs out with me at the roastery and is very sociable- she loves people, and people love her.”

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