Life celebration for Clapper is Saturday |

Life celebration for Clapper is Saturday

Michael McLaughlin
The Aspen Times
Willard Clapper
Courtesy photo |

A celebration of life for Aspen’s Willard Clapper is scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday at the Aspen Fire Station on East Hopkins Avenue.

Clapper died at his home in Emma on Oct. 16 after battling lymphoma. He was a volunteer firefighter for 35 years in Aspen and served in every position for the department except chaplain.

On Saturday morning, Clapper’s widow, Anne Austin-Clapper, will present the ashes of her husband to members of the Aspen Fire Department Honor Guard in a private ceremony. The Honor Guard will then guard and bring the ashes to the Aspen station after going through a “Corridor of Honor,” made up of fire engines from different districts in Colorado. The visiting engines will line up for several blocks west of the fire station on East Hopkins Avenue.

A celebration of Clapper’s life will follow at the Aspen station. There will be guest speakers and a flag presentation to Austin-Clapper with a reception following.

“We’d really like to see the public at the station by 11 a.m. sharp,” said Rick Balentine, fire chief and CEO of the Aspen Volunteer Fire Department. “Willard knew so many people in this community and influenced so many lives. We’re expecting it to be fairly crowded for his life celebration.”

Besides being a firefighter, Clapper also was an elementary and middle school teacher for 29 years. He graduated from Aspen High School in 1969.

“Willard influenced the lives of thousands of local kids who were inspired by him as a teacher, coach, mentor and entertainer,” said Tim McFlynn, a professional mediator and managing director of Aspen Dispute Resolution. “He was also a great speaker. He probably touched more lives in this area than anyone I know.”

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