Samuel ‘Mad Dog’ Vaughan
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
Sam was a down-home cowboy with a sense of humor like Will Rogers.
To me, he was a breath of fresh air, a ray of sunshine. He could make almost anyone laugh, or at least feel at ease.
Born in Kansas in 1945, Sam moved to New Mexico with his mother after his parents separated. He graduated from high school, married his childhood sweetheart and
started college. He had one son, Sam Jr. His aspiration was to teach high school or college. He had quite a record in Golden Gloves, and hoped also to coach boxing. Then he had a brush with the law, which cost him his marriage, visiting rights with his son and his college career. Sam was a good American with high aspirations in life. Society decided to make an example out of him, and for this we all lost. From that point on, Sam considered himself an outlaw.
But Sam was always a survivor and had a positive attitude. He even survived the Bubonic Plaque in the 1980s and then diagnosis of AIDS for 25 years, until death claimed him on March 17, 2012, at Valley View Hospital in Glenwood Springs.
In the early ’70s, Sam came to Aspen. He worked at the Village Pantry, the Hyman Street Deli and many other restaurants. With his love of horses and cowboy sensibility, he earned a living caring for the horses of private owners all over the valley. He belonged to the Wild Horse Association, and was instrumental in bringing wild horse racing to the Snowmass Rodeo.
Sam was always ahead of his time. Not many people know that it was Sam Vaughan who initiated the employee housing program in Pitkin County by coming to work for
me at the Hyman Street Deli, and moving in on my couch for 15 years, more or less.
God bless Sam, he will be remembered as a true Aspen character. There will be a celebration of Sam’s life later in the spring, so friends and family from out of town can make plans to attend. When the date has been finalized, there will be a notice in The Aspen Times.
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