Hundreds attend Stapleton memorial |

Hundreds attend Stapleton memorial

Joel Stonington
Paul Conrad/The Aspen Times

Hundreds of people gathered at the Prince of Peace Chapel and then the Aspen Elks Club on Friday to celebrate the life of Sam Stapleton. “It was probably the most unusual memorial service I’ve ever been to,” said Bill Tofany, Sam’s son-in-law and an Old Snowmass resident. “I’ve never laughed so hard at a memorial, which is difficult because I’ve cried all week.”

Stapleton was an active member of the community for many years. He served on the Aspen school board for 12 years and had been on the Red Butte Cemetery board since 1978. He had been a member of the Aspen Elks since 1962.Aspen Fire Chief Daryl Grob recognized Stapleton’s 53 years as the president of the Aspen Fire Protection District.”From the day it was formed,” Grob said, “until our [most recent] meeting, in March, his attendance was 99 percent, and he was always on time. He was the quintessential community service citizen.”

The Prince of Peace Chapel was packed for the service. Later, the Elks Club was full with people enjoying lunch, laughing and talking. The bright sun filtered through the windows, and the crowds mixed and mingled. “There were a lot of stories,” said Don Stapleton, Sam’s nephew. “People commented on his character, his honesty, how much fun he was and how in tune with the earth he was.”

Sam took on an especially important role after Don’s father, William, died. Don was married and living on the family property at the time. “First he became my father,” Don said, “then he became one of my best friends.”Joel Stonington’s e-mail address is

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