Obituary: Gesine Crandall
August 7, 1937 – February 4, 2022
Gesine Crandall passed away peacefully at home in St. George, Utah on February 4, 2022. She was 84.
Gesine exhibited quite a determined spirit in everything she did. This included making a life in Aspen, Colorado for nearly 50 years. She shared her gift for design as informal architectural assistant to Tom Benton in the design and building of the family home on Willoughby Way. With a bad spine from childhood on, she continuously worked on strengthening her body, especially through diligent Pilates practice. As a result, she was able to do the physical activities she loved until just a few years ago. Two favorite memories are hiking Mt. Sopris on her 70th birthday, and playing USTA National Mother-Daughter tennis tournaments with her daughter Kristine.
Her biggest accomplishment was using an innate financial sensibility to help, as a founding board member and the treasurer, with the capital campaign and building of the Aspen Animal Shelter. In looking back over her life, Gesine said that “it was rich in experience, whether good or bad, always keeping me learning.”
That life experience cut across a wide spectrum, beginning with World War II followed by the establishment of Communist East Germany where she grew up, in Mühlhausen, Thüringen. She only had an eighth-grade education because she refused to join the Communist Youth Party. At age 18 she fled to West Germany, where she lived in Braunschweig and Stuttgart, working for the Deutsche Bank. She came to the United States in 1961 and, as she said, “for the first time, I could be myself,” feeling a societal, cultural kinship. After a year with relatives in Rockford, Illinois, she drove West in her gangster Buick, spending a winter working at the Rustler Lodge in Alta, Utah. She heard that Aspen was a lovely place to be in the summer, with its summer music festival. Within her first two months there, she met Dr. Jack Crandall while working at the Golden Horn restaurant, and they were married a few months later. They made a balanced team — he the laid back one and she the Type-A doer (this was the secret of their marriage).
A love of nature provided a body-mind-soul touchstone throughout Gesine’s life. She maximized her passion for hiking both around Aspen and the redrock desert in southwest Utah, moving there full-time in 2010. Favorite places in the St. George area were trails in Snow Canyon State Park, the Santa Clara River Reserve, and the ravines below Zen Ridge near where she lived.
Immediate family that survive her are daughter Kristine Crandall, her beloved feral-turned-indoor kitty, Bigbee (St. George), and her sister, Frauke, niece Agnes and family (Leipzig Germany).
There will be no formal memorial service. To leave reflections and condolences, please visit https://www.serenitystg.com. In lieu of flowers, donations in Gesine’s memory can be made to the Friends of the Aspen Animal Shelter, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, or Switchpoint Community Resource Center in St. George.