Sara Sue Kataoka |

Sara Sue Kataoka

Sara Sue Kataoka died March 26. A celebration of her life is planned April 6.

Sara Sue Kataoka died Saturday morning, March 26, after a 10-year struggle with melanoma. She was 61.

Born Sara Sue Hawks in Amarillo, Texas, into the large pioneer, ranching and oil Whittenburg family, she came to Aspen in the early ’60s, already an accomplished pilot and photographer. She became assistant to Whipple Van Ness Jones, president of the Aspen Highlands Ski Association, and later the director of AspenGlow, Aspen’s first vacation-package and reservation service. In the late ’70s, she headed Lescan Skiwear with her then-husband Koji Kataoka. For the past few decades, she had been one of Aspen’s finest real estate brokers, first with Carol Ann Jacobson Realty and more recently with Coates Reid and Waldron.Sara Sue was an integral participant in the development of Aspen’s cultural and philanthropic community. She was a founding member of the Aspen Art Museum and a longtime supporter of the Aspen Arts Council, the Aspen Music Festival and School, Ballet West as well as Aspen-Santa Fe Ballet, the World Cup, Ski the Rockies, Aspen Country Day School and Grassroots, and she was very proud of her role as an officer of AIDS Aspen Cares.

Most importantly, Sara Sue will be remembered best for her indomitable spirit and generous heart. Though she was very entrepreneurial and successful in her business life, her greatest accomplishments lie in the hearts of her friends and family who are richer and happier for having had Sara Sue’s presence in their lives.She is lovingly remembered by her children Victoria Kataoka Rebuffet and Koji Kataoka II, her son-in-law Jean-Philippe Rebuffet, her daughter-in-law Alix Brown, her grandson Mateo Kataoka, her siblings Georgia Swift, Lillie Holder, Helen Benton, Janis Grey, William Hawks and their families, as well as countless devoted friends.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that contributions be made in her honor to the Melanoma Research Fund (c/o Dr. Rene Gonzales, Cutaneous Oncology, P.O. Box 6510, Mail Stop F703, Aurora, CO 80045-0510).A service will be held to celebrate Sara Sue’s life on Wednesday, April 6. Further information will be forthcoming.

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