Aspen hall-of-famer Sigrid Stapleton dies at age 83
Longtime volunteer, church musician preferred to say under radar
When Sigrid Stapleton moved to Aspen as a teenager from Chicago, it took her a bit to get used to the mountain life. But she found her place and became a fixture in the community for her volunteer work and carrying on the Stapleton family tradition.
Sigrid died Monday in Grand Junction. She was 83.
Sigrid Braun’s father — mountaineer Fred Braun, the namesake of the Alfred A. Braun Hut System — moved the family from Chicago to Aspen in 1952, and she said previously she “cried all the way to Aspen.”
“I had to leave my best friends behind. It was such a culture shock,” she said in a 2014 interview with The Aspen Times. “The school I left in Chicago had 3,000 kids attending it, and my total graduating class in Aspen was 10 kids. The kids here thought I was a hood from Chicago, and I thought they were all hicks.”
She met David Stapleton, who was a year ahead of her in school. David’s great-grandfather, Timothy Stapleton, came to the Roaring Fork Valley in 1881 to homestead and started the Stapleton legacy.
When David Stapleton enlisted in the Army in 1954, Sigrid started to send him letters. When he got back from the Army and she returned from Western State College, they dated and then were married in 1957.
“Just based on the lineage and heritage in Aspen is why Dad knew everybody,” Dean Stapleton said Monday. “When Mom came into the picture, she became part of that, but she liked to just fly under the radar. Dad certainly is the more gregarious of the two.”
The couple were inducted into the Aspen Hall of Fame in 2008, one of two Stapleton couples in the hall (Sam and Elizabeth were inducted in 2007).
Sigrid and David were married for 61 years and raised five children in the valley. They lived in the same Aspen home for 37 years before moving to Snowmass and living there for seven years.
Because of health reasons, they moved to Grand Junction four years ago, but the family had a reunion in 2017 in Aspen at the Historical Society the morning before David was inducted into the Colorado Ski Hall of Fame in Vail.
During their time in Aspen, the Stapletons were involved in just about every aspect of the community. Sigrid volunteered with the Aspen Ski Club, was with the Blue Ladies group for nearly 25 years at the Aspen hospital, served as a volunteer librarian and was on the first board of Roaring Fork Hospice, according to the couple’s hall of fame biography.
But one of her greatest loves was playing organ at St. Mary Catholic Church. She started when she was 16 and played for more than 40 years, most often during the Saturday evening mass.
“She was totally committed to the church. That was her life,” Dean Stapleton said. “Unfortunately, when she left Aspen she didn’t find a church like St. Mary’s.”
Dean said her modest demeanor was instilled in all her children, and the character traits she handed down were integrity and kindness. She was proud of her role in helping the Aspen community where she could and the group of friends who all supported each other and stuck together.
“It was her community service and her A Team,” Dean said of his mother’s most proud moments as part of Aspen. “The A Team is a group of women who all grew up together in Aspen, and all had families … and they all they stuck together. They volunteered together. They did events together. They banded together and helped the community from the 1970s through the ’90s.”
She is survived by her husband, David; five children, Kim, David, Dean, Stefanie and Dash; and eight grandchildren. A public service is scheduled for 11 a.m. May 7 at St. Mary with a reception to follow.
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Highway 82 is closed eastbound for a second time Tuesday morning east of Aspen because of a semi-truck experiencing “mechanical issues” trying to go up Independence Pass.