Stein, maven of the Music Festival, dies |

Stein, maven of the Music Festival, dies

Marjorie Stein, a local ranch owner and philanthropist who played an integral role in the early years of the Aspen Music Festival, died at her home in Aspen Saturday. She was 94.

Stein is remembered as an adventurer, volunteer and fund-raiser in a community that valued such things and knew her well.

Marjorie spent the first half of her life in Chicago. The daughter of steel industrialists, she studied at Connecticut College and in Paris before marrying her husband, Henry Stein, in Chicago in 1935.

Allured by the rugged ideal of the West, Marjorie and Henry purchased a second home in Aspen in the late 1940s before moving here permanently in 1952. She and Henry owned and operated the Mill Iron Ranch on McLain Flats Road.

Eager to import the culture of her upbringing, Stein worked tirelessly in the ’50s to ensure the survival of the fledging Music Festival. Along with personal donations and fund raising, Marjorie served on the first board of the festival and later as an honorary trustee.

Through her work, Stein befriended many of the musicians that came to Aspen. One of the first pool owners in town, Stein held legendary parties at her ranch home.

Friends remember a petite, strong-willed woman capable of acts of both extreme generosity and stubbornness.

“She was very strong-minded. When she wanted something, she went and got it,” longtime friend Jeanne Jaffee said. “It was like that with the Music Festival.”

In 1960, Stein co-founded the “Blue Ladies,” the predecessor of the current Aspen Valley Hospital Volunteers. Inspired by her work in the Red Cross during the Second World War, Stein organized volunteers to work in all departments of the hospital. The volunteers, for years exclusively women, were known as the “Blue Ladies” for their distinct blue frocks.

Stein was an avid tennis player, hosting regular Wednesday tennis gatherings at her home tennis court. She was also a skiing pupil of legendary ski icon Klaus Obermeyer. Marjorie was for years a regular attendee at the Aspen Music Festival, struggling against diminishing faculties to attend concerts last summer.

A great lover of the outdoors, Stein worked with her family to place a number of conservation easements on the ranch, ensuring that much of the 400-acre property is reserved as open space.

Marjorie Stein is survived by three daughters, seven grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren. She was preceded in death by Henry Stein, who died in 1981. Her family is currently organizing a memorial service. Any contributions should be directed to the Music Associates of Aspen.

Eben Harrell’s e-mail address is

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