Esther Kartiganer, a frequent vacationing Aspen resident from New York, died suddenly of a heart attack Tuesday afternoon, Aug. 1. Having skied in Aspen for some 40 years, she has spent increasing summer time here, frequently hosting houseguests and introducing them to concerts of the Aspen Music Festival and School.
She had just unlocked her bicycle to take her usual gondola ride to the top of Aspen Mountain to read her daily newspapers when a neighbor observed her collapse on the bike rack. 911 was called and the arriving medic found no pulse.
Born in Berlin, Kartiganer immigrated to the United States in her first year of life and grew up in New York. She attended the Bronx High School of Science and then Brandeis University, majoring in political science. After graduation, she worked for a political pollster, then joined CBS as a temporary office assistant during the presidential primary season of 1964. After only two weeks as an assistant, she was placed in charge of gathering Colorado precinct returns for the news networks and wire services (her secretary in this effort was the mother of the later U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright).
Her strong will, commitment to detail, and passion for current affairs led to a trailblazing journalism career at CBS News for 40 years, 22 of them as producer and senior executive producer at "60 Minutes," garnering multiple Emmy awards. After retiring from CBS, Esther served as a mediator in the New York City Civil Courts and as a member of the Institutional Review Board at Columbia University Medical Center.
For years she was well-known on the ski slopes, often observed using an unusual cable device running from her boots to her hips which took the pressure off her repaired knees in ski turns. She willingly talked about the device to skiers who inquired about her "sticks," saying it would not otherwise be possible for her to continue her loved sport of skiing.
The Esther Kartiganer Fund has been established at the Aspen Music Festival and School in her memory. Donations may be made through Lenor Leeds at the Music Festival. Also, donations in her memory may be made to the Brandeis University Women's Studies Program.
Friends are planning a Gathering to Celebrate the Life of Esther Kartiganer for 1 p.m. Monday, Aug. 13, 2012, in the lobby and on the adjoining plaza of Harris Hall near the Music Tent. In the spirit of her favored mode of transportation, it is suggested that arrivals on bicycles would be especially appropriate. Persons wishing to share a brief anecdote or story that characterizes Esther with the gathering, should notify email@example.com.
Esther is survived by her brother Joseph Kartiganer (Audrey), nieces Deborah (Constantin Tanno) and Alison Kartiganer, grand-nephew Nicholas Tanno and grand-niece Christina Tanno. Her dedication to her family, friends, and causes was unwavering. Her enthusiasm and warmth will be strongly missed by those who knew her.