Longtime Aspen resident Ramona Markalunas died Feb. 19, just hours before her 80th birthday.
She suffered Alzheimer’s for six years and moved to a facility in Grand Junction in 2010.
She was the first woman to serve on Aspen City Council. She also had a passion for Aspen’s history which drove her tireless work to preserve ghost towns in Ashcroft and on Independence Pass, as well as the old Crystal Mill and numerous other historic fixtures.
She helped found the Aspen Historical Society in 1963 and served the organization for decades to come. Her work for the nonprofit, which in its early stages was a volunteer-based organization, included the building of the Carriage House on the Wheeler/Stallard Museum property.
She and her husband, Jim, were inducted into the Aspen Hall of Fame in 2007 for their dedication to Aspen. Jim Markalunas said her accomplishments were so significant that even the family can’t keep them all straight.
She was heavily involved in the acquisition of the Rio Grande right-of-way, which is now a public trail from Aspen to Glenwood. Ramona also was part of establishing the penny sales tax to form what is now the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority. In the 1970s, she joined the fight to keep the Wheeler Opera House out of a private owner’s hands.