Sandra St. John
Sandra St. John, 69 of Aspen, CO passed away peacefully on June 3, 2018 in Burlington, VT with her daughters by her side.
Sandy was born April 19, 1949 in Southington, CT. Daughter to Grace and William St. John, she was the youngest of three siblings. Her childhood was spent in Newington, CT with her older brother William St. John Jr., and her older sister Susan Marinelli who remained her lifelong best friend. Growing up Sandy excelled in both academics as well as athletics, which afforded her the opportunity to follow in her parents footsteps by attending and graduating from The College of William & Mary. Sandy’s parents first met and fell in love in the mid-thirties as undergraduates at William & Mary, where her mother was a trailblazing three-sport varsity athlete; so being able to honor their legacy there was something Sandy was always proud of. Sandy earned both a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts and a Masters in Education, which laid the foundation for her teaching career.
After several years of teaching, exploring life and traveling, Sandy found her way to Colorado, and immediately fell in love with Aspen. It would prove to be an enduring love, as Sandy would call Aspen home for the rest of her life. While the town and the mountains served as the perfect backdrop, it was the circle of incredible friends she developed over four decades that was her true Aspen love. Sandy will be remembered by all as a loyal and devoted friend, but by none more than Clare Sanger, her dearest friend of 30+ years. Among her best friends in life were her brother-in-law Jim Marinelli, sister-in-law Beverly St. John, and her nephews Josh Marinelli and Brett Marinelli. Some of Sandy’s fondest memories are from times she spent driving cross country with her sister Sue and brother-in-law Jim during which time they dubbed themselves “The Three Musketeers.”
Sandy was involved with Aspen Country Day School for much of her first twenty years in Aspen, with many of those spent teaching art, one of her first true passions — not to mention one of her truly impressive talents — for all grade-levels at ACDS. For the many children that attended during that time, it’s a near certainty that they learned to draw or paint, or otherwise express themselves artistically, from Sandy. In the early years of her career at ACDS, Sandy fell in love and married another young adventurous teacher, Bill “Huffy” Huffman, together they had two daughters, and remained life long friends.
After discovering yoga for the first time later in life, she found a new passion. Like with art, she would continue to pursue yoga with her trademark enthusiasm, continuing to study and practice the art until she was a master instructor herself. And after the culmination of her art and yoga career, she demonstrated her versatility by turning to a lengthy and successful career in real estate.
Sandy’s passion for life, love, and adventure was contagious. She was inspiring — never taking a single day for granted, and never missing an opportunity to engage with the mountains and the outdoors. Sandy was a fixture on Aspen Mountain in the winters, skiing with her buddies and never shying away from even the most challenging of terrain; and in the spring, celebrating her 60th birthday trekking up and skiing down the Highlands Bowl. In the summer, she hiked throughout the Roaring Fork Valley with her dear friends. Whether she was exploring her way around American Lake, Lost Man Loop or the crossover to Crested Butte, it’s safe to say no trail was safe from Sandy’s footsteps.
Of course, it was never difficult to discern what Sandy found to be her greatest accomplishments and sources of joy — her beloved daughters, Morgan Donath and Bridget Huffman, and her grandson, Jack Donath. Sandy stepped back from her life as a teacher to be a mother full time when Morgan was first born, and returned to teaching just in time to be Bridget’s preschool teacher. Sandy’s devotion to Morgan and Bridget was demonstrated by the little things. From making her daughters’ halloween costumes from scratch each year, to creating interactive games to play at home with them, Sandy used her creative flair to create a wonderful and loving life for her children growing up. Above all Sandy will be remembered as an amazing mother, always full of affection, patience, understanding and unconditional love. Her daughters and grandson meant everything to her, and so it was only fitting that her final days and moments were spent with them.
Although we lost the comfort of Sandy’s presence she will live on through the countless lives she touched. At Sandy’s request, her ashes will be spread from the top of Aspen Mountain so that her loved ones can enjoy the beauty of the valley each time they visit her.
A celebration of Sandy’s life will be held at the top of Aspen Mountain on Saturday, July 14th. Guests should arrive at the base of the gondola at 11am for the 11:30 ceremony, followed by a reception that will run until 3pm.
The ceremony is open to all of those that Sandy touched. Please note, season pass holders are encouraged to bring their ski passes to access the gondola. The family will be arranging gondola service for guests without passes.
Memorial donations in her name can be made to Aspen Country Day School’s Art Program or the National Forest Foundation