Jane Erb, age 84, of Aspen, Colorado passed away on April 1, 2015 after surviving terminal cancer for more than seven years. Her ability to continually fight and beat a stage-four diagnosis inspired everyone, not the least her doctors, friends, and children, and serves as a testament to her personal strength.
Born Jane Hodges, August 24, 1930 in Detroit, Michigan, Jane married George Erb in 1953. It was in Detroit where, working as a volunteer for Channel 56, she discovered her love for public broadcasting. She moved to Aspen in 1978 with her partner, Gairt Mauerhoff, and became extremely active in Aspen life. A town fixture, she served in several important capacities that helped shape the town into what it is today. From working on successful mayoral campaigns, to serving as a member of the Grassroots TV Board and Wheeler Board of Directors (half the time as Board Chair), she also somehow managed to find time to serve on her condominium Board, including serving as President for more than twenty years.
Although these contributions were already major, they pale in comparison to the mark she left on both Aspen Public Radio and the Aspen Music Festival. Having worked for KSPN, KDNK, and KSNO, she also served as broadcast/interviewer of a two-hour nationally broadcast program featuring music and artists from the Aspen Music Festival, plus enjoyed a fifteen-year broadcasting tenure with KAJX. A passionate devotee of 20th century classical music and a well-respected expert on many composers, she never tired of exploring new and esoteric music with her listeners. She hated Mozart.
A tireless worker for the Aspen Music Festival for almost thirty years, Jane served as the Young Artists Coordinator from 1996 – 2007, and contributed to the Aspen Music Festival program book for over fifteen years. But of all these accomplishments, perhaps her proudest was the transformation of Aspen Public Radio into a true public radio station, complete with contributing members and an elected board.
Self-described as terminally addicted to her computer, Jane often said that music was so important to her life she would often forget to count it among her passions. And yet despite her music-centric life, she still made room for countless British murder mysteries, her knitting group, Beecher’s Macaroni and Cheese, and her yearly trips with Gairt to the U.K. (including her beloved Richmond) to explore the classical music scene. A true Anglophile, people often noted (especially the Brits) that she bore an uncanny resemblance to the Queen. She never argued this point.
Jane, who did not tolerate fools gladly, was nevertheless known for her deep devotion to the many people she loved and who loved her. Although both Gairt and their beloved dog Freya preceded her in death, she still leaves countless friends and four children: Susan Tarpley of Ann Arbor and her husband Jerry; David Erb of Zürich, Switzerland and his wife Bonnie Garmus and two daughters; Stephen Erb of New York and his wife Rhonda and four children; and Elaine Erb of Niwot, Colorado and her husband Michael DeLalla, as well as 5 step-grandchildren, 1 great-grandchild, and 3 stepgreat-grandchildren.
A memorial will be held in her honor in Aspen sometime this summer. In lieu of flowers, Jane requested that contributions be sent to either the American Liver Foundation or any cancer research organization of your choice. She also offered her own idea for recollection. “If anyone asks how I want to be remembered,” Jane said, “please tell them to go sit under a tree, listen to the Walton Symphony #1, and think of me.”
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