Editorial: Offering thanks to the late Helen Klanderud
Helen Klanderud, as one of her associates on the Aspen Chamber Resort Association board told us Wednesday at a Hotel Jerome reception in her honor, was a one-of-a-kind individual in a community noted for its many unique personalities. Indeed, some are comparing her to that great visionary for present-day Aspen Elizabeth Paepcke, and that’s no small legacy.
Former Mayor Klanderud died suddenly last week, at the age of 76, and we already are feeling the loss of her presence. We didn’t always agree with her politics — Klanderud was a tad too friendly toward development interests during her six years at the helm of municipal government. She also could be a bit sarcastic when faced with a stupid question (reporters ask a lot of them) or a political theory to which she objected, but never in a mean-spirited way.
She always was willing to share information, on the street or via telephone, on a wide variety of local business, political or civic topics on which she was well-versed. Having been extremely active in a variety of circles since coming to Aspen in 1971, she became the queen of community background.
Others will miss her for other reasons. She was an asset to the nonprofit world, working hard to create or continue the existence of many organizations, from the Aspen Counseling Center to the Aspen Historical Society and many between. Early in her career, she was active in causes related to the legal rights of Native American tribes. And if she didn’t get directly involved in a cause in which she believed, she would inspire others to do so.
It’s been a tough year for the Klanderud clan. One of Helen’s son’s, Soren, died earlier this year. Now the matriarch is gone. Based on the outpouring of support exhibited in the past week, there is no doubt that their survivors will be surrounded by love and assistance during these trying times.
And so we bid farewell to Helen Kalin Klanderud, 1937-2013, whose presence will be felt in the upper Roaring Fork Valley for many decades to come. As Father John Hilton said during his homily at her funeral Mass on Wednesday morning, she was “a remarkable woman” with “many, many talents.”
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