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Hall of Fame

Mary Eshbaugh Hayes
Liz Stapleton, right, was congratulated at the Hall of Fame banquet by her daughter Shannon, on her left, and granddaughter, Taylor Quist, standing. (MEH)
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The 20th Aspen Hall of Fame was held Jan. 25 at the Hotel Jerome in honor of new inductees Liz and Sam Stapleton and Ramona and Jim Markalunas. Both Sam and Jim are third-generation Aspenites. Sam has always lived on a ranch in Owl Creek, while Jim is an Aspenite whose grandfather walked over Independence Pass in the 1880s to work as a mine surveyor. Liz was born in Glenwood Springs, married Sam in 1948, and they raised three daughters on the family ranch. Ramona came to Aspen as Jim’s bride in 1954, and they have raised two daughters and two sons in Aspen.Sam’s Knob on Snowmass Mountain is named for Sam Stapleton, who guided and advised the planners and skiers who created the ski area. Sam, who died in 2006, was president of the Aspen Fire District for 52 years, served on the local school board, held leadership positions with the Aspen Elks Lodge for 42 years including Past Exalted Ruler, was active with the Masons Lodge, served on the Pitkin County Agriculture and Conservation Board, and sold tickets at the base of Aspen Mountain for 48 years.

Liz Stapleton taught at the Owl Creek school, ran the Stapleton Spur Bed and Breakfast, aided the chamber of commerce, actively participated in the Pitkin County 4-H and Elks Ladies Auxiliary, and was an Aspen Valley Hospital and Thrift Shop volunteer. She is a member of Eastern Star and belongs to the generations-old Aspen Literary Club.Jim Markalunas worked for the city of Aspen Water Department for more than 35 years. He ran the Castle Creek hydroelectric plant and helped expand Aspen’s hydroelectric power sources. He was the official weather observer for the National Weather Service for many years and still offers local weather history. He organizes the Salvation Army’s bell-ringing campaign and can be seen with his bucket during the holidays, usually in front of Clark’s Market. He served on the Aspen City Council in the 1990s and cares for the Aspen Grove Cemetery. Both Jim and Ramona have been active in trying to get a train for the Roaring Fork Valley, and the couple is famous for giving away sweet pea seeds every spring.

The Aspen Hall of Fame always brings out many longtime Aspenites and locals who have moved away, so the evening is one of renewing friendships and lots of hugs and tears. It will be a Night at the Oscars next Sunday, Feb. 25, at the Ritz-Carlton Club at Aspen Highlands. This is the second year for the event, which is held for the benefit of Aspen Film. Last year, the first, was an elegant black-tie affair, and this year will be the same. People will be treated to a cocktail dinner, a silent auction and a viewing of the Oscar ceremonies in Hollywood via several large-screen televisions. For reservations, call Beth Somalski at (970) 429-2241. Space is limited.Because so many longtime Aspenites come to the Hall of Fame banquet, I will run as many photos as I can.Undercurrent … it’s the time of year that all your friends from the East Coast come for a visit!


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