2013: A Year of Transitions
Jan 06, 2014 | 4523 views | 0 0 comments | 36 36 recommendations | email to a friend | print
LONGTIME Telluride resident James R. “Wes” Perrin, 63, (left) died from cancer on March 19. He's pictured here with Sen. Michael Bennet. (File photo)
LONGTIME Telluride resident James R. “Wes” Perrin, 63, (left) died from cancer on March 19. He's pictured here with Sen. Michael Bennet. (File photo)
RIDGWAY'S longtime official weather observer and Volunteer Fire Department stalwart Dick Crabb died at home on April 3 following a brief illness.(File photo)
RIDGWAY'S longtime official weather observer and Volunteer Fire Department stalwart Dick Crabb died at home on April 3 following a brief illness.(File photo)
REMEMBERING AXEL - The whole world grieved along with Ridgway residents Randy, Jen and Kalden Charrette after the late-February murder of the family’s 2-year-old, Axel Charrette, in Sayulita, Mexico. (File photo)
REMEMBERING AXEL - The whole world grieved along with Ridgway residents Randy, Jen and Kalden Charrette after the late-February murder of the family’s 2-year-old, Axel Charrette, in Sayulita, Mexico. (File photo)

It was “bittersweet,” said Becky and Travis Best, longtime owners of Best Appliance and Home Gallery in Montrose, who closed the doors to the longstanding retail portion of their business on Friday, Jan. 11. Customers from throughout the region, including San Miguel and Ouray counties, have been buying home appliances from the Bests since 1995. The couple’s son, Allen, will continue operating Best Appliance’s service business, with help from his folks. “Now, we’ll be going to work for our son,” Becky said. “He has a wealth of knowledge, and for us to get out of the stress for awhile and relax will be good.” 

Roger Henn, who died on Jan. 17, was born on Aug. 5, 1917 in the Miner’s Hospital in Ouray to Professor Frank Henn and Stella LaRoche Henn, both employees of the Ouray School District. Roger was preceded in death by his wife, Angie, to whom he proposed (over the Christmas holidays) on the telephone. It was in the days of party lines. Just as he said, “Angie, please marry me,” a lady cut in and said, “Angie, you’d better just marry that young man.” So she did. Henn was a charter member of the Curmudgeon Club – a group of Ouray men who would get together over coffee on a weekly basis. The couple are survived by their three children Frank (Janet) Henn of Brandon, Mo., Patty (Steve) Ratliff of Montrose and Alan (Linda) Henn of Starkville, Mo.; by five grandchildren: Frank E. Henn, Stacey Gaspard, Joshua Myres, Dominic Henn and Katrina Henn; and by two great-grandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews. 

Palladin expanded from its longtime Ridgway home to open Palladin Telluride in the Mountain Village core in early January. The upscale boutique showcases U.S.-made furniture and decorating accessories, and the the work of regional and national artists and artisans, including Adam Duncan, Meredith Nemirov and Dennis Conrad, is curated by owner Abby Dix. 

Former Telluride Choral Society Artistic Director  David Lingle died on Jan. 17. Lingle, 58, who had just assumed a new position as music director position at the First Parish Church in Brewster, Mass., is survived by his two children, John and Haley, and by his ex-wife, Jill, in Tulsa, Okla. 

The Mountain Village Hotel Madeline announced in January that it would be adding a Starbucks coffeeshop (as well as a gourmet food-and-wine shop and a branch of Telluride Truffles) to its restaurant-and-hotel facilities lineup, marking the first incursion of that ubiquitous chain into San Miguel County in the summer. “This is part of a series of improvements designed to make the Hotel Madeline and Mountain Village more of a year-round destination, and improve the experience of guests and locals alike,” said Jim Mikula, managing director of Hotel Madeline Telluride and Inn at Lost Creek. 

Emergency Medical Systems stalwart Jill Masters, who has left countless meals uneaten, missed holidays with her family and worked through many sleepless nights during her 25 years with Telluride’s EMS department, retired this year. “Before we knew we needed or could have paramedic level service in our small town, Jill knew and did something about it,” said longtime paramedic Heidi Attenberger. Masters began her emergency services career in the early 1980s, going on to become one of San Miguel County’s first paramedics. “When we saw what she could do and how well she did it, we wanted to be like her,” Attenberger said. “Jill changed the way the Fire District did business,” said Telluride Fire Protection District Chief Paramedic Emil Sante. “Jill crafted this once ‘basic’ service into the ‘advanced life support’ effort the community enjoys today,” and inspired at least seven locals to become paramedics. 

New Montrose City Attorney Stephen Alcorn has been busy since coming onboard in March. The former Oklahoma City District judge has drafted new municipal policy regarding everything from marijuana regulations to new gun restrictions.  "I got teased relentlessly about leaving Oklahoma by prosecutors saying I was only leaving for the marijuana," Alcorn joked. The city council voted unanimously in June to ban retail sales of marijuana, and the Montrose County Board of County Commissioners soon followed suit. At the annual conference of the Colorado Municipal League, attorneys representing other Colorado towns and cities asked Alcorn for copies of the new ordinance, considered the first of its kind since Amendment 64 passed last year.

The whole world grieved along with Ridgway residents Randy, Jen and Kalden Charrette after the late-February sexual abuse and murder of the family’s 2-year-old, Axel Charrette, in Sayulita, Mexico. At a March 12 memorial service for Axel at the 4-H Event Center in Ridgway, his father said, “I can’t imagine a grief worse than this, losing a young child in such a horrible way. There simply are no words to describe what we’re going through.”

A longtime family friend read from the text of a commentary by National Public Radio commentator Aaron Freeman that begins with the words, “You want a physicist to speak at your funeral,” and resonated, she said, with Axel’s mother, Jen, a software engineer. “You want the physicist to talk to your grieving family about the conservation of energy, so they will understand that your energy has not died….You want the physicist to remind your sobbing mother about the first law of thermodynamics; that no energy gets created in the universe, and none is destroyed.” The Charrettes, who owned Peak to Peak Bicycles, in Ridgway, have launched The Axel Project, giving away Strider bikes to charitable organizations and distributing pedal-less bikes for tots at cost at cycling events; for more information, please visit axelproject.com.

Longtime Telluride resident Dawna O’Rourke, 77, died in Grand Junction on Feb. 28, after a long illness. O’Rourke, 77, who grew up in Telluride, is survived by her husband, Jerry, and by their children and grandchildren. 

Eric Palumbo is the new operator of Ridgway’s Cimarron Books and Coffee House. The Ogden, Utah native took over from the business’s founder, literary impresario and Democratic Party stalwart Priscilla Peters, who retired after 21 years at the helm. “I like what Priscilla had going on, focusing on local authors, histories, guides, maps. I want to flesh it out a little more, add more fiction,” Palumbo said.

Mary K. Feirn, of Ridgway, died unexpectedly at her home from a heart aneurysm on March 6. She  is survived by her daughters, Cynthia L. Feirn of Ridgway, and Linda S. Feirn and her husband, Gary Broderick, of Placerville, Colo.; and her grandchildren, Terese Feirn Broderick and Trevor Feirn Broderick. She was predeceased by her husband, Bob; and their daughter, Karen.

Longtime Telluride resident James R. “Wes” Perrin, 63, died from cancer on March 19 at the Denver Veterans Association Hospital Community Living Center. Perrin worked variously as a deputy marshal in the Telluride Marshal’s Department, with the Telluride Ski and Golf Co., and in recent years, served on the San Miguel Power Association Board of Directors. A staunch environmentalist, Perrin worked for renewable energy solutions, in the Southwest. He is survived by his children, Joshua and Nichole Perrin. 

Ridgway’s longtime official weather observer and Volunteer Fire Department stalwart Dick Crabb died at home on April 3 following a brief illness. He was 64. Crabb is survived by his wife of 37 years, Paulette, and their children, Ryan and Amanda, and grandchildren. 

Longtime Norwood resident Kirsten Phillips, 47, was found dead at her Norwood home on April 11. She is survived by her husband, William; her son Chris Anderson; and by her parents, Keith and Karen LeQuey, of Norwood

San Miguel Journal founder and publisher Jim Davidson died on March 19 at home in Crestone, in the house he built himself, surrounded by his family. He is survived by his wife, Tracee Sporer, and by his children, Greta and Eric. After stepping down from his job as publisher of what in 1989 morphed into the Telluride Times-Journal, Davidson wrote the well-received Mine Work, about growing up in Rico and Telluride – Mine Work (Utah State Univ., 1999), described by a reviewer in the Denver Post as “a moving tale of not only power and shame but also of redemption.” Davidson was self-described as having “worked in the mines and on the Ute Indian Reservation. He’s trapped weasel and drawn maps, lived on venison and waited for days for snowplows to free the village from blizzards. He’s watched his hardrock mining father taken down by lung disease and published a number of small town newspapers. He has seen a lot.”

Montrose resident Blaine Tankersley died on April 23 after striking a Montrose County dump truck stopped in the southbound lane of Colo. Hwy. 550 to make a left turn. 

After four years, Telluride Ski and Golf Co. pulled the plug on the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association’s Telluride World Cup in snowboardcross and skicross. “The entire Telluride World Cup team has worked diligently over the last four years to deliver a Best in the World experience to athletes, fans and staff, and we are proud of all the great work they have accomplished,” wrote Bill Marolt, president and CEO of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association, in response to the decision to fold the event. “I have had the distinct privilege to meet scores of resort staff, volunteers, officials and more in Telluride. I would personally like to extend my sincere thanks to each and every one of you who came out to deliver several exceptional World Cups. You have all truly demonstrated what it means to be Best in the World.”

The Telluride Montrose Regional Air Organization announced in May it is now the Colorado Flights Alliance. While its core mission to stimulate economic development by attracting and retaining air service to the Montrose and Telluride regional airports remains the same, Colorado Flights Alliance Chief Operating Officer Matt Skinner said the organization is taking an expanded outlook to engage the larger economic region.

“Colorado’s central Western Slope is not just an assortment of individual economies – it is a collection of communities and world class amenities that drive a larger economy,” said Skinner. “As a driver of the regional economy, it is vital that Colorado Flights take a true regional approach in sustaining and growing air service for our residents, businesses, stakeholders and guests.

“Instead of many small airports in a region, there are several regional hubs,” he said. “On the Western Slope, we have Grand Junction to the north and Durango to the south. In the center we have Montrose acting as the regional center. It only makes sense that Montrose should be a regional jumping off point.” Colorado Flights Alliance currently partners with United, Delta, American and Allegiant airlines on nonstop winter service to the Montrose Regional Airport from Chicago, Newark, Atlanta, Houston, Dallas, Phoenix, Los Angeles and Oakland, in coordination with Denver-Montrose service; it also supports Denver-Telluride service. 

Lifelong Ouray resident Alvin Joseph Ficco, 80, died on April 27, at home with family and friends.  

He and his wife, Marjorie Louise Gunn, raised four sons, Dan, Art, Dave and Joe; he is survived by them, and by 13 grandchildren whose ages range from 6 to 30. Ficco co-owned Rice Lumber Company in Ouray from 1956 to 1969 with Tom and Sally Fellin, and ran Box Canon Construction with Norm Fedel from 1969 to 1994.

Governor John Hickenlooper attended the May 23 dedication ceremony for The Paul Haining Memorial Bridge in Placerville. The dedication came after a passionate effort led by a group of San Miguel County veterans to honor and remember Army Private First Class Haining, believed to be San Miguel County’s one fatality in the Vietnam War. A member of the Telluride High School graduating class of 1967, Haining was killed in Vietnam on July 23, 1970. He received two Bronze Star Medals and an Air Medal for his service, and is buried in the Placerville Cemetery. Hickenlooper presented flags flown over the Pentagon to Haining’s three surviving brothers, who attended the dedication ceremonies, along with members of the extended family. A group of veterans, including San Miguel County Sheriff Bill Masters, Ron Kanter and Richard Arnold, created a brass portrait of Haining, and arranged for the new Leopard Creek bridge in Placerville to be named in his honor. 

Telluride resident Peter Lauterbach died on May 21 of complications from ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease). He is survived by his wife, Teresa Lauterbach, of Telluride; a son and a daughter from a previous marriage, Peter Lauterbach of Glen Ridge, N.J., and Lisa Laskin of Cambridge, Mass.; and four grandchildren.

Longtime Telluride resident Elizabeth Stiles Patterson died on June 1, while camping near Moab, Utah. She graduated from Telluride High School in 2008, attended CU-Boulder, and was currently living in Moab, where she worked as a nanny. She is survived by her parents, Jenny and Steve, and her brother, Chas Patterson.

Ridgway native Mario Bart Zadra, a miner and rancher, died in Montrose on June 5. He had suffered for the last few years with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and congestive heart failure. Born in a small brick house near Ridgway in 1916, he was the third of five children born to Italian immigrants Matteo Zadra and Ottilia Marinelli. He worked at the Camp Bird Mine for a time, leading ore-laden mule trains down the treacherous Canyon Creek Road to Ouray, and helped out on the family ranch in the valley south of Ridgway. In the 1950s and 60s, he was elected to two terms as Ouray County commissioner, one as chairman. Zadra married Eda Terresa Tessitore in 1951. Their daughter, Jan Scharf, of Montrose, survives him. 

“What a wonderful man and important part of our region's history. He will be greatly missed by those who knew him, and represents the vanished breed of what the area was before today,” said Abby Dix, his longtime neighbor. “I first met Mario on Specie Mesa when I lived in my little bunkhouse in the early 90s. He would always stop in and check on me, hat in hand, making sure a single girl on the mesa was doing OK. We would look through Howard Greager books about ranching life in the old days, and he'd tell me firsthand stories about ‘the Injuns’ in the photos and why they outran the law (because their horses were better). 

“Mario told me all about “Cowboy Heaven,” a whorehouse across the road from my property, where the cowboys would overnight each week after they ran cows down the road (then called the Beef Trail) to Placerville to be shipped off to feed the miners in Telluride. He showed me where a Ute elder was buried at the top of my place, and where two little girls were buried in another place after a particularly harsh winter on the mesa, which one can only imagine.

“He bought the ranchlands to summer his cattle up on Specie Mesa from the famous rancher Marie Scott, whom he began to work for in his teens. He shared stories about driving the mule trains up the treacherous route to the Camp Bird mine, and how the mules would hang over hundreds of feet of drop-offs as they went from switchback to switchback packing gold ore or what have you. Driving the mule train was his first job, at age 12, but then he told me when he was a lad of 10 he delivered a horse for his father all the way from Ridgway to the Disappointment Valley...alone. Took him two days.

On top of all the history, he was a lovely man to the end. There are many others who can tell better stories of Mario Zadra, but I guarantee they will all agree they don't make ’em like Mario any more.”

Ben Wayne Lillard died at his home in Montrose on June 2. He was 56. He worked over the years as an electrician, a deputy sheriff for Montrose County and El Paso County, a Houston Metro police officer, a Montrose County jailer, a Norwood town marshal, an EMT, an ambulance driver and a coal miner. He is survived by his son Ben Jr. of Cedaredge, and two grandchildren.

Dixie Keithly of Ridgway died June 9 at her Solar Ranch home at age 82. A longtime cancer survivor, she was passionate about her daily two-mile river walk, her birding, her flower garden, viewing of the mountains, Big Band music, the hot springs, and gratitude for just being in what she called her beautiful “Ridgway Paradise.” 

Telluride Bluegrass Festival organizers announced, one week before the 40th annual festival’s June 20 start date, that Mumford & Sons, the much-anticipated opening-night headliner, canceled, tour to allow bassist Ted Dwane to recover from emergency surgery. Rather than perform with a replacement, the London-based Grammy-award-winning folk rock band went on to cancel the rest of its summer tour. “The surgery went well, and the excellent medical team helping him are very pleased with his progress,” a band statement said. “He has been nothing short of heroic in how he has handled the whole ordeal, and now it has been medically proved that he does indeed have a brain.” 

Steve Martin & the Steep Canyon Rangers stepped in, to the delight of festival attendees. 

The body of Grand Junction resident Matthew Thomas Busker was found by a Montrose hiker on Black Bear Pass on Sunday, June 23, inside a mineshaft in Black Bear Basin. Busker, missing for more than a week, died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Watch Ouray County Editor Peter Shelton retired in July, and in September, wrote his “last column for The Watch for a while. Maybe forever.” Now Shelton and his wife, Ellen, are planning to move to Bend, Ore., to be closer to their daughter Cloe and her family. Shelton has promised to write a few more editions of his column, “View to the West,” about the upcoming move. 

Montrose Downtown Development Authority Executive Director Scott Shine stepped down in July. His replacement, Wade Nichols, came onboard in November, pronouncing himself “impressed with the businesses that are here.” Nichols, who comes to the Montrose DDA with more than 25 years of business development and marketing experience, including seven years of work leading downtown organizations throughout North Carolina, was selected by the DDA Board of Directors from an initial list of 38 candidates, due in large part to his past experience with national Main Street programs.

The body of Montrose resident Luis Eduardo Estrada-Juarez, 17, was recovered from the pond in Taviwach Park north of Montrose on July 23. He had died in a swimming accident the night before. 

Montrose resident Michael Thrash died at St. Mary’s Hospital, in Grand Junction, on Tuesday, July 30. Thrash, who was found guilty of sexual assault on a child by one in a position of trust in early June, died from injuries suffered after he jumped from “a second-tier landing” in the jail.

The victim, age 8 at the time of the assault, testified in the early-summer trial that the sexual assault took place in Thrash’s home while his wife was out shopping; Thrash, 72, was to have been sentenced on Thursday, Aug. 22, for the 2011 crime. 

Ouray’s historic Wright Opera House celebrated its 125th birthday on Aug. 17; five days later, the historic Ouray County Courthouse celebrated its 125th birthday, as well. “It is our courthouse,” County Clerk Michelle Nauer said of the structure. “It is for the community. There is lots and lots of history here; this is a cool building that has a lot going for it.” 

Fourteen-year-old DeLeon Springs, Fla. resident Austin Michael Snyder died in an ATV accident in the northern reaches of Ouray County on Aug. 2, after losing control of his all-terrain vehicle and hitting a tree on Dented Door Road, .8 mile from Divide Road, near the Montrose County line. Snyder, who was visiting family in Montrose, was riding with a group of five when the crash occurred. 

Who but the Telluride Film Festival could convert an ice pavilion into a state-of-the art cinema?  But they did it to commemorate the festival’s 40th anniversary festival in 2013, and nobody was thinking hockey when Werner Herzog’s Aguirre, the Wrath of God inaugurated the Werner Herzog Theatre on Aug. 29. Herzog, who was honored with a tribute at the second Telluride Film Festival and has been on the program many times since, was on hand for the opening of the new 650-seat theater, constructed with $1 million from the Town of Telluride to enclose the Town Park Pavilion and make other permanent improvements to the building, and $800,000 raised by the TFF. The festival’s fourth large venue – joining the Chuck Jones Cinema in the Telluride Conference Center in Mountain Village, the Palm Theater at the Telluride Middle/High School and The Galaxy at the Telluride Elementary School – adds up to myriad options for festival ticketholders. That plus allowing the fortieth anniversary event to run a day longer, made for a more relaxed than usual Telluride Film Festival, but a festival that nonetheless premiered movies that went on to critical and audience acclaim, including Gravity, 12 Years a Slave and Inside Llewyn Davis. And the Herzog?  It performed magnificently, with state-of-the-art sound and projection, sure to help keep the TFF among the most prestigious film festivals in the world.

Longtime Telluride Ski and Snowboard School instructor Roderick Smith, 67, died on Sept. 25 at his home in the Ski Ranches, after a long struggle with pancreatic cancer. He is survived by his wife, Cindy, and their children, Woody and Dana. 

Eldon Ray Hurst, 58, of Telluride, died on Oct. 14, in Colorado Springs. Hurst was active with the Telluride and Montrose Elks. 

Longtime San Miguel County resident Sally Siegel, 61, died unexpectedly in Pine Island, Fla., on 

October 24. Siegel experienced a presumed cardiac event, and never recovered. She is survived by her longtime partner, Dave Mattner, whom she married on June 4, 2011. Siegel ran Telluride’s Rainbow Preschool, motivating and guiding children, parents and teachers for 20 years, before retiring in 2001.  Her life credo was “More is better...Reach for the brass ring!” 

Janet Jacobs, a longtime resident of Mancos and Telluride, died on Wednesday, Nov. 6, after a long fight with thyroid cancer. She was 66 years old.

Janet is survived by her partner Shelley Earl, her son Rick Jacobs and his fiancé Maki Koike, her daughter and son-in-law Wendy Jacobs Hampton and Zachary Hampton, and her granddaughters Breton and Zoe.


Ouray resident Zina Lahr, 23, died in a Nov. 20 hiking accident near Ouray. Soon after her death, Lahr’s Facebook page blossomed with remembrances from friends describing her as an angel, modern-day prophetess, prayer warrior, forest nymph and most of all, a beautiful soul. Soon after her memorial service, a video of Lahr, The Work of Zina Nicole Lahr, shot in August by her childhood friend, Stormy Pyeatte, went viral. In the video, Lahr comes to life on the screen, aviator goggles on her head, discussing her “creative compulsive disorder,” her art and her inimitable sense of style. Almost immediately, like Lahr’s whimsical robotic inventions, the video took on a life of its own. By the end of its first day online, it had 4,000 views. Aspen Public Radio aired a story about the video, leading to an email from Christopher Jobson, founder and editor of Colossal, the popular blog exploring art and visual culture. The video was soon at the top of Colossal’s home page, under the headline, “Creative Compulsive Disorder: Remembering Zina Nicole Lahr.” Three weeks after her death, it had logged well over 245,000 views. It made me so sad I couldn’t share all this with Zina,” said Pyeatte. “This is her, her work; this is why we made it in the first place.” At the same time, it’s comforting because “everyone is so inspired by her and grows to love her when they see her on the screen. Zina was so full of life and so much promise and so excited about everything she did. The message is, ‘Don’t take your life for granted; remember this is only temporary.’”Telluride Town Clerk Mary Jo “MJ” Schillaci retired on Dec. 1, after nearly three decades as a public servant. Schillaci, 66, was born in Alpena, Mich., in 1947. Her mother, an election judge, sparked her interest in politics, and had her monitoring current events at an early age. At age 12, she was distributing pamphlets and literature for the 1962 Kennedy campaign; she went on to study philosophy and social work at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo. In the mid 1970s, Schillaci left Michigan with her new husband Lenny, and headed west to find a new place to call home. They landed in Telluride, “because Lenny’s brother lived here at the time,” she said. In 1985, Schillaci started working as a part-time secretary for the Arts and Special Events Board; she became Town Clerk in 1989. She is succeeded in that position by Lauren Bloemsma.

Because of her work in town’s municipal elections, Schillaci was celebrated by the Colorado Municipal Clerks Association in 2012 for “Outstanding Contributions by a Clerk.” Her advice for her successor? “First, don’t get drunk in Telluride. You end up saying things you really shouldn’t say in a public setting,” she said. “Second, don’t ever take a political position. It’s never my job as clerk to take positions, it’s only to implement the decisions the council makes,” she said. Schillaci recalled a dinner party decades ago where she “had a couple glasses of wine,” and voiced her opinion on an issue facing the town. The next day, Schillaci said, she had someone talking to her about it. Rule number three: “Never gossip. Councilors and mayor sometimes feel the need to come in my office, and whatever they say stays here. I used to feel comfortable telling the cat, but then I was afraid she’d tell someone else.”

Montrose resident Jason Cook was the lone fatality in the single-engine plane crash north east of Blake Airfield in Delta Friday, Nov. 30. Delta County dispatchers received "several 911 calls about small, single engine Cessna airplane that went down about six miles north of Delta in the adobe hills" just after 5 p.m. 

Joan Dashwood Kontny, 70, died on Dec. 7 after a decades-long battle with multiple sclerosis. She is survived by her husband Vince, and their children and grandchildren. The couple lived at the Centennial Ranch, in Ouray County. 

Longtime Telluride resident Frick Burden, 59, died unexpectedly on Dec. 9 at his cabin near Tara Mandala, in Pagosa Springs. He is survived by his children, Tommy, of San Francisco, and Katie, a singer, who lives in Los Angeles. 

Norwood resident Scott Harlow died at the Telluride Ski Resort on Wednesday, Dec. 11, shortly after 4 p.m., on the Pick'N Gad ski run.

San Miguel County Coroner Emil Sante said Telluride Ski Patrol efforts to resuscitate Harlow were unsuccessful.

The cause of death is under investigation.

Harlow is survived by his son, Tyler. 

Telluride-born Irene Visintin died on December 12, three weeks before what would have been her 101st birthday, in southern California, where she lived with her nephew, Gene Wunderlich. Born on January 4, 1913, to Emmanuel and Ermida Visintin, she lived in the same house on North Spruce for nearly 80 years, next door to her sister, Elvira Wunderlich, who died in 2006, for most of her adult life. Visintin, who graduated from Telluride High School in 1931, and went on to obtain a degree in bookkeeping from Barnes Commercial School in Denver, returned to Telluride to work, variously, in the city clerk's office, then as office manager for attorney Charles Fairlamb,  and finally as bookkeeper at the Telluride Mines, Inc. (later, Idarado Mining Co.), in 1939, where she worked for the next 36 years. 

She had a unique perspective on the mining industry and on the colorful characters who populated it. Irene was witness to a century of Telluride, and some of you can only imagine the “good old days.” As Irene said in the 2006 Telluride Reunion book, "One of the hardest things about getting this old is you have almost no old friends left." She was the last surviving member of the Telluride graduating class of 1931. Irene chronicled some of her favorite memories of growing up in Telluride in a series of posts at https://www.facebook.com/irene.visintin/notes.Together with her sister, Elvira (Wunderlich), and a myriad of friends including Rena Frank (Bonavida), Marina Mattri (Patterson) and many others, they hiked the mountains, experienced Prohibition and the Great Depression and lived through Telluride's transitions from mining boom town to near ghost town to prominent ski town.  She shared personal stories of local bootleggers and highgraders, of the Italian kids fighting with the Swedes on the other side of town over ownership of some donkeys, and trips by horse and tram to the thriving mining towns of Smuggler and Tomboy, where the dances were a much anticipated event (but only in the summer). 

Longtime Telluride resident Jane Miller, 53, died in the early hours of Sunday, Dec. 21, at 2:50 a.m., at her Placerville home. She is survived by her husband, Rich Fake, and their children, Hayden and Anna Fake; and by her mother, Cathryn; her father, John, her brother Lance, and her sisters, Carol, Casey, Susan and Emily. Miller, who died at her Placerville home, in bed, of natural causes, was with her husband at the time of her death, and under the care of Harden Hospice.

Ridgway resident Patty McNall died on Dec. 24 after surgery for injuries from a horseback-riding accident in early December. She is survived by her husband, 

DeGrey Phillips. 

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