Chris Cassatt, Aspen Times photographer and designer and nationally syndicated cartoonist, died Jan. 16, 2013, after a two-month battle with lymphoma, at his home in the mid-valley. He was 66.Chris was born April 25, 1946, in Syracuse, N.Y., to Robert and Marjorie Cassatt. He grew up in Rumson, N.J., and attended Parsons College in Fairfield, Iowa, and Windham College in Putney, Vt. He moved to Aspen in 1969, leaving college without a degree, as he often said, after his draft lottery number came up 351.In 1970, Chris moved onto the true path of his life when he got a job in the pressroom of The Aspen Times. Although that first job, “flyboy,” was the lowest-ranking job at the paper, he quickly showed his work ethic and talent and moved up to the positions of designer and chief photographer for the newspaper. Over the years, his photographs and designs won many awards.His true passion, however, was cartooning. He launched a number of comic strips in The Aspen Times, most famously “Sal A. Mander,” a strip featuring a cartoon lizard. Chris moved his character off the pages of the newspaper and into the political arena in quixotic campaigns, as the Newtist Party candidate, for Pitkin County sheriff, Aspen mayor and Colorado governor. Ultimately, Chris legally changed his name to Sal A. Mander in order to qualify his character for the ballot in the 1978 governor’s race. His best-known political effort was a write-in campaign in 1980 against incumbent District Attorney Chuck Leidner, under the slogan, “It’s your choice: the lizard or the snake.”In 1984, Chris left The Aspen Times to work on his own as a photographer and designer. In 1996, he collaborated with former Aspen Times editor Mary Eshbaugh Hayes on “The Story of Aspen,” featuring his photographs and her interviews with many local residents.Chris’s computer design skills led him into a working partnership with Jeff MacNelly on MacNelly’s syndicated comic strip “Shoe.” Following MacNelly’s death in 2000, working with MacNelly’s widow Susie and illustrator Gary Brookins, Chris kept the strip alive. For the next 12 years, “Shoe” ran under a byline featuring all three of their names.Although his work ethic was strong, Chris was known outside the office for his barrel-stave skis, which he made himself and skied on with abandon – without poles and with his Nikon in hand. He was also a dedicated and skilled fisherman, often heading up Hunter Creek in the days before “catch and release” to catch his lunch. He was known for his gardening too, raising bumper crops in his backyard and in a small plot in the alley behind the Times building (after tearing up the asphalt to reach the ground below).Chris married Lauren MacDonald in Aspen in 1974, when they both worked at the newspaper. They had two spectacular children, Alex, now a sound engineer in Seattle, and Hayley, now an art teacher and professional artist in Portland, Ore.He is survived by his wife and children, his parents, his brother, Rob, of Hampstead, N.C., and his father-in-law, sister-in-law, brother-in-law, nieces, and grand-nephew in California.No plans have been announced for a public memorial. Lauren Cassatt can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by regular mail at 616 Evans Court, Basalt, CO 81621.In lieu of flowers, donations in his name are encouraged to HomeCare & Hospice of the Valley, PO Box 3768, Basalt, CO 81621 – http://www.hchotv.org
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