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Toklat co-founder dies

Aspen Times Staff
Isabel Mace, who built and ran Toklat with her late husband, Stuart, died Monday. (Lois Abel Harlamert)
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Isabel Mace – who built and ran the Toklat lodge, restaurants, gallery and gift shop for more than half a century with her husband, Stuart – died Monday. She was 87 years old.The Maces came to Aspen after World War II and contributed to the modern history of the town. Settling on land in the Castle Creek Valley near the ghost town of Ashcroft, they built Toklat (an Eskimo word meaning “a valley formed by a glacier”), which they initially ran as a guest lodge and offered dog sled rides and ski tours. A strong proponent of natural foods and healthy eating, Isabel became known for her cooking, and the couple also ran two Toklat restaurants in Aspen for a time before bringing their healthy home cooking back to the Castle Creek Valley.

One of Aspen’s longest-running businesses, Toklat also served as the family’s home (the couple raised five children there), a gallery (which now makes its home in Basalt), and in the mid-1950s, a filming site for the “Sergeant Preston of the Yukon” television series. Isabel and Stuart ran their dog-sled operation until 1974, when it relocated to Snowmass Village and became Krabloonik.

The Maces in the late 1960s helped found the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies, which recently purchased the historic lodge and land. ACES operates a nature center on the property. But it was Isabel’s philosophy of healthy living, the knowledge that she passed on and the family’s stewardship of the land that affirmed their reputation as environmentalists.

Though not as visible as her husband, Isabel was known as the foundation of the family and its business. Her knowledge of and belief in naturally grown foods were well ahead of their time, and she spawned a loyal following through her cookbook, mail-order business and organization promoting sustainable agriculture.Her legacy, and stories of the Castle Creek Valley, will continue through an oral history project under the care of the Aspen Historical Society.For more about Isabel Mace and her contribution to Aspen’s history, see Thursday’s Aspen Times.


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