Letter: What a loss | AspenTimes.com

Letter: What a loss

First losing Jim Hayes and now losing Mary — what a loss for our town. Andy Stone beautifully wrote about Mary in Saturday’s article.

On a personal note: I met Jim and Mary in 1978 while writing my first book, “Christmas in Aspen.” I loved them from our first encounter and then for the next 37 years. During my interview for the book, I got to know these two caring, talented, family-oriented, adorable and hardworking longtime locals who helped Aspen become the kind of town it is today. I can’t tell you how many special times I sat with them in front of their fireplace drinking tea with the fire crackling and burning, Jim content in his favorite rocking chair. They would tell me stories of their lives — how they moved to Aspen back in the ’50s to ski and ended up raising a family of five active kids, all the time trying to make ends meet. I loved all their vintage photos of Aspen in the ’50s. Mary and Jim were always in the center of the Aspen community.

Being fellow local authors, Mary and I met often to discuss our various writing projects. Mary made me smile as I’d watch her in the ’80s walking around Aspen hauling a child’s wagon loaded with books to be delivered to stores.

Fourteen years ago, I started a creative-writing contest at Aspen Elementary School for third- and fourth-graders. For 14 years, Mary spent hours as my fellow judge, reading as many as 70 stories a year. She never complained, because she loved writing and was happy to see the younger generation’s enthusiasm and talent.

I will dedicate 2015’s contest to sweet Mary. I will miss you dearly.

Jill Sheeley