Obituary: Stephen Jay Marcus
April 22, 1936 – December 5, 2021
Stephen Jay Marcus of Aspen, Colorado passed away at age 85 on December 5, 2021 from complications with Covid-19.
Steve was born on April 22, 1936, in Brooklyn, New York; the younger of two sons to the late Max and Ella Marcus in the Flatbush neighborhood. He attended PS 152 and then Midwood HS where he played on his HS tennis team and won the state championships.
Sports continued to be a lifelong passion and he often reminisced about playing stick ball, basketball, stoop ball, slap ball and kick ball with neighborhood kids in the streets of Brooklyn during his youth.
His grandfather, who came from Russia – not speaking a word of English – was a pioneer apartment house builder in Flatbush in the 1920s. Joined by family, they became some of the most successful real estate developers in Brooklyn.
Steve graduated from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in 1958 and joined his family’s business.
In 1966, he married Renee Stark at the Plaza Hotel, and shortly thereafter they took a ski vacation and fell in love with Aspen, deciding to move from New York in 1969 and start a new life. Their first purchase was a lot on Red Mountain (for the exorbitant price of $17,000) where they eventually built a family home. They had three children and divorced; Steve later married Ann Hendrick in 1980 and had two more children. That marriage also ended in divorce, however he remained close friends with both of them.
Steve’s first Aspen development project was a six-unit condominium on East Hopkins with the help of friends and family. He later went on to build a total of 10 commercial buildings in Aspen and 14 residential and spec homes over the last 50 years.
Like a boy who loves playing with his building blocks… Steve additionally built two beautiful family homes on Daufuskie Island, South Carolina and in Rye, New York where he and Ann moved for eight years while their children were young. Steve commuted back and forth for work, always happy to return home to Aspen.
He also consulted on the design and building of the Aspen Club, where he was a member until the opening of the Grand Champions Club, now known as Maroon Creek Club. He was one of the very first golf and tennis members and the Club truly became his “home away from home,” where he could be found almost every day for the last 25 years.
Steve admired entrepreneurship and his office door was always open for anyone to come in and get his genuine and forthright advice and opinion on all things Aspen. He took the time to get to know and form relationships with all of the tenants in his buildings and they certainly knew him! He graciously worked with his tenants through the recessions over the years and the recent pandemic – always helping/assisting merchants and restaurants so they were able to stay in business and weather the storm during difficult economic times.
Steve generously supported the local arts – happy to contribute to his belief that there was not a place on earth “finer than Aspen” that combined beauty, culture, and outdoor activity. One of his favorite organizations was the Aspen Music Festival and School and he delighted in being able to walk from his West End home every Sunday through the summer to the 4 pm Festival Orchestra concerts in the tent.
Steve is survived by his brother, Robert Marcus and family; five children: Melissa Marcus Olenick (Michael), James Marcus (Gloria), David Marcus, Jennifer Marcus (Randy Bolt), Karyn Andrade (Charles), six grandchildren, two ex-wives and his beloved and faithful secretary for the last 42 years, “P,” along with many other friends he encountered in his more than five decades of living in Aspen.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to JazzAspenSnowmass or Aspen Junior Golf scholarship fund.
A small family service will be held in January and a gathering for friends and community at large is planned for June in Aspen, with exact dates and location TBA.