Claudette Carter died Oct. 2 in Santa Monica, Calif., at the age of 59. She lost a difficult six-month battle with lung cancer that was complicated by two strokes. During those long months, she witnessed the tenacity of her family’s love every day.
She became the focus of the lives of her husband, Dick, daughter, Chase and son, Carter. Over that period, her close friends crisscrossed the country to be with her and to support her family. No one could ever have passed from this world with more surety that she had lived her life well.
Claudette was born and raised in New Jersey and met husband, artist Dick Carter, in high school there. She attended the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, where she was mentored by children’s clothing designer Betsy Daniels. In 1969, Dick and Claudette marrie,d and soon after moved to Aspen.
Claudette was a natural businesswoman. After she and Dick set up house in the West End, Claudette, with partner Julie Wycoff, opened Cheap Shots, a secondhand store, while Dick went to work as an assistant to artist Herbert Bayer. Cheap Shots was an instant success, and Dick’s career as a painter was off and running.
The Carter family began to grow, first son Carter and then daughter Chase. After Chase’s birth in 1975, Claudette partnered up with Laura (Gracie) Donnelly and opened Crackers, Aspen’s Liberated Kids Boutique. Crackers was one of the first great kids’ boutiques, the sort that are common today. Claudette and Laura shot their own ads using their children as models; the ads exhibited the hip sense of humor that reflected Claudette’s and Laura’s personalities and was part of the fabric of what made Aspen so special in those grand old days.
A few years later Claudette and Laura opened Gracy’s, named after Laura (Gracie) and Claudette’s favorite store Macy’s. It was the best and most unique secondhand consignment store in town and its huge success has since spawned imitators up and down the valley. Once she brought a friend into the shop and he bought a Bogner ski suit for $35 and found $40 in the pockets, he was a loyal customer from that point on. Claudette’s business genius was in full bloom.
The Carters were among the first Aspenites to recognize the beauty and good sense of living downvalley and migrated, ending up with a ranch in Emma. That ranch became a second home to their close circle of friends, many of whom were bachelors and bachelorettes who might not have made it through the ’70s and ’80s were it not for Claudette’s competence as a den mother and loving friend. Waking up at the Carters’ with what felt to be a terminal hangover meant being pampered like a child with a bad case of the flu, not being derided for the foul behavior of the evening before. The tales of the midnight drives in Dick’s 1950 Buick, down the Rio Grande railroad tracks to the Tavern and other, unknown, locations will remain untold.
Claudette loved her ranch with her gardens, chickens, goats, dogs, cats and assorted critters that would pass through their lives, and everyone and everything, returned that love in full.
Claudette and Dick sent Carter and Chase to the Aspen Community School in Woody Creek. They were instrumental in organizing the first art auctions in the valley as fundraisers for the school. Claudette served on the school’s board of directors for three years. They were both part of the small clutch of people who created what is now the Aspen Art Museum.
In recent years, Claudette and Dick had relocated their home and Dick’s studio to Santa Monica to be close to the movie industry, where they reinvented themselves as art directors for films, TV, and commercials. Their success in California, and Claudette’s real estate savvy, allowed them to buy and remodel a Victorian in old Basalt and a studio and office space on the Roaring Fork, where they planed to spend more time.
Claudette is survived by her husband, Dick, her children, Chase and Carter, her father, Joseph Fasone, sister Lois Doherty and many, many loving friends.
A memorial celebration will take place at 11:30 a.m. Saturday, Oct., 13, at the Roaring Fork Club in Basalt.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Wyly Community Arts Center for a fund being created in Claudette’s name. For more information call Deb Jones at the Wyly Community Arts Center at 927-4123 or email@example.com.
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