Aspen, CO Colorado
Former Pitkin County Commissioner and rancher Clyde Vagneur died in Denver on Monday, March 23, 2009, after a valiant battle with cancer.
Tony Vagneur wrote, “I need to get used to the idea that Clyde isn’t coming back this way again. I’m sure he was an important part of your life ” he was the kind of guy you had to take for who he was, for he couldn’t be anything else. I can picture him in the French countryside, explaining to those boys how it was and is out West, out where the cowboys live and play.”
Born in Woody Creek on Dec. 24, 1927, to Sullivan and Clarice Vagneur, Clyde was the fourth of seven children and grandson of local pioneers, Jeremy and Stephanie (nee Clavel) Vagneur and John and Elizabeth (nee Spencer) Greener.
Clyde worked the family ranch in partnership with his father and brother Wayne. Like many other ranchers, in winter he turned to the mountain, working in Stein Erickson’s Highlands ski shop and skiing often. Periodically, the county used his skill with dynamite, however, demand for his services seemed to decline after he destroyed Gary Cooper’s freshly plastered ceiling when he blew up a boulder on Red Mountain Road.
He purchased his uncle Ben’s V Bar Lazy V Ranch where he bred cattle and quarter horses and influenced the lives of many of the teenagers he hired as ranch hands.
A true renaissance man, 1960s Aspen gave Clyde the setting to develop his eclectic interests. He listened to but would not watch opera. He judged horseshows, taught horsemanship, was a skilled calf and team roper and regularly won wild horse races. He was whipper-in for the Roaring Fork Hounds and danced regularly at the Red Onion.
In 1979, he moved to El Paso County where he raised registered Salers cattle until ill health forced him to retire in 1991. He then moved to London, England and traveled extensively in Europe but his heart belonged in the valley and he summered most years at his cabin here. A member of the National Western Stock Show, he attended every year from 1944 to 2008.
Two brothers, Wayne and LeRoy, and his children and grandchildren survive him. He had four children with his first wife, the late Geri (nee Evans) Vagneur of Aspen. Kit Brown lives in Denver, Ken Vagneur, his wife Sally and Gale Gates live near Basalt. Ivy Wreden and her husband Phil live in Halfway, Ore.. He has four grandchildren: Emerson Vagneur Gates, Jesse Vagneur Gates, Minden Wreden and Keegan Wreden.
Clyde had one daughter with his second wife, the late Patricia (nee McCary) Vagneur of St. Louis. Leslie Lange (aka “Bear”) and husband Tom live near Greeley. There are two step-children from this marriage, John Harutun (aka “Skip”) who lives in Carbondale with his wife Mary and Lynn Harutun of Fort Collins. He has five Harutun step-grandchildren and five step-great-grandchildren.
Clyde’s wife and partner of 35, Kathryn (nee Otto) Vagneur survives him as does his youngest step-daughter, Jocelyn Murphy, who resides in Denver with her husband Sean and children, Frances and Henry.
Services will be on Thursday, April 2, at 1 p.m. at the Prince of Peace Chapel in Aspen. In lieu of flowers, please send a donation to the Aspen Historical Society, 620 W. Bleeker St., Aspen, CO 81611.
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