George Wall Gleason
George Wall Gleason, who founded the Pitkin County Senior Outdoors Program and hosted a weekly Big Band radio show for KJAX radio station in Aspen, died Jan. 1 at his home in Boulder. He was 86.
He was born Feb. 20, 1923 in Pueblo to George and Augusta (Wall) Gleason. He graduated from Centennial High School in Pueblo and attended Colorado School of Mines before serving in the U.S. Navy from 1944 to 1946 as an aviation electronic technician. In 1948, George earned his engineering degree from the University of Denver. He was a member of the National Honor Society and the Beta Theta Pi fraternity.
He married Mary Jean Anthony on Dec. 29, 1943, in Denver. After completing his military service, they returned to Colorado, where they raised seven children.
George worked for the Martin Company in Denver and Ball Brothers Research Corp. in Boulder. His work included development of the Titan Rocket, instrument design and mission control for the Apollo space program, and design of the mounting telescope and coronagraph for the first manned space station, Skylab. He retired from Ball Brothers in 1984.
He was a member of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Sacred Heart of Mary Catholic Churches in Boulder and Saint Mary’s Catholic Church in Aspen. He was an active member of the Elks Lodge No. 224 and Pitkin County Senior Services.
George enjoyed many outdoor activities, especially skiing, hiking, sailing, tennis, and golf. His founding of the Pitkin County Senior Outdoors Program led hundreds of local and visiting seniors on outdoor adventures. Music was an important part of his life as well; he played the clarinet and saxophone, and for many years hosted the weekly Big Band show for KJAX. In their retirement, George and Mary traveled extensively and were widely adored and admired. The couple was named king and queen of Wintersköl in Aspen in 1991. George was named Pitkin County Volunteer of the Year in 1993.
George was preceded in death by his wife, Mary Jean; his parents; and two sisters, Augusta Peaker and Eleanor Schooley. He is survived by four sons: Jim Gleason of South Bend, Ind., Bob Gleason of Telluride, Patrick Gleason of Alma, and Gary Gleason of Aspen; three daughters: Judy Wright of Littleton, Nancy Warren of Golden, and Marilyn Gleason of New Castle; 10 grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.
A memorial Mass will be held at Saint Mary’s Church, 533 E. Main St. in Aspen on Wednesday, Jan. 13, at 11:30 a.m. A reception will follow at the church. George and Mary Jean’s ashes will be interred together in Aspen’s Red Butte Cemetery this spring.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to HospiceCare of Boulder and Broomfield Counties, 2594 Trailridge Drive East, Lafayette, CO 80026 or https://hospicecareonline.org/donate/index.php.
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Basalt High School’s “small but mighty” track and field team is ready to save the day. Well, the Longhorns will train hard and probably break a few school records at least, although coach Allyson Decatur does liken the athletes to superheroes from time to time.