Town says farewell to an original
February 19, 2002
Aspen’s old guard came out in force yesterday to celebrate the life of a woman who spent the better part of nine decades teaching, ranching and playing the accordion in the Roaring Fork Valley.
About 125 people attended services, the burial and a party at the Eagle’s Club yesterday for Hildur Anderson, who died last week at the age of 94.
Anderson was born in Aspen near Heron Park on June 21, 1907, and lived in the valley for most of her life.
She spent much of her life living in the Aspen area, first with her parents, Charles and Mary Hoaglund, then with her husband, Bill Anderson, on land that was and still is known as the Anderson Ranch. And finally she lived as a widow and a feisty, and somewhat feared, math teacher at Aspen Middle School.
The services, which were held at Christ Episcopal Church in Aspen, included comments from Ruth Harrison and Tom Fisher, both teachers who worked with Hildur, and a poem by Brooke Anderson, Hildur’s granddaughter. Harrison’s recollection of all the “Hildurisms” got the standing room only crowd laughing.
A Hildurism is a sharp-witted comment that remarks on both the absurdity and the reality of what’s being said or what’s happening, she said.
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Harrison reminded the crowd that few of them or any other old-time Aspenites escaped one of Hildur’s most common salutations. They generally transpired with the common person saying something like, “Hi Hildur, what are you doin’?” and Hildur answering, “What’s it look like? I’m talking to you.”
Even in her later years Hildur kept her sense of humor about things. Harrison recalled a conversation with her about how she couldn’t seem to remember that Jim had called her twice a day at the retirement home in Carbondale. Hildur’s reply: “Well, I guess my forgettery is working.”
Jim Anderson and both his brothers, Ed and Bert, said they were extremely pleased with their mother’s funeral.
Ed says the services drew just the right kind of crowd, both in size and mix. “The perfect number of people came, and the perfect people came,” he said.
Christ Episcopal had been outfitted for a much larger crowd than the 125 or so who actually came, with a closed-circuit television and sound system and several dozen seats in the basement beneath the chapel. But the extra seats weren’t needed.
“If this had happened 10 years ago, people would have been lined out the door to the highway,” Ed said.
Anderson spent her late 80s at the Heritage House retirement center and nursing home in Carbondale, and her early 90s with son Jim in Yuma, Ariz.
After the services Hildur was buried at Red Butte Cemetery before the crowd moved to the Eagle’s Club in Aspen, where they shared food, drink and memories.
“It’s been festive,” said Bert Anderson. “This has brought people we haven’t seen in 50 years, and family members we haven’t seen in 50 years.”
All three of Hildur’s sons graduated Aspen High School, although none live here anymore. Ed lives in Rangely, Jim in Yuma and Bert in Oklahoma.
The sons and their families stayed at two of Aspen’s oldest ski lodges, the Limelite and the Mountain Chalet, reflecting perfectly the Aspen they and their mother grew up in.
“Not many old-timers left,” said one person, over drinks and memories, at the Eagle’s Club yesterday