It could be said that Elaine Kurtz Sandler and Paul Sandler had a love that transcended the ages.
Married for more than 30 years, Paul died in 2009 from injuries incurred in a motorcycle accident. Last week, on what would have been Paul’s 74th birthday, Elaine succumbed to a heart issue that was related to Lyme disease, which was first diagnosed two years ago, according to her son, Andrew Sandler.
Elaine was taken off life support on Monday, said the younger Sandler, a well-known Aspen entrepreneur. She was 74.
“Only my dad could have pulled that off, could have come and collected his bride on his birthday,” Andrew said on Wednesday, referencing the ironic timing of her passing. He considers July 2 the final day of life, though his mother officially lived for six more days through the aid of a ventilator.
Elaine was a native of West Orange, New Jersey. She earned an undergraduate degree from Adelphi University and later, a master’s in social work.
Well known for her conservative views that were expressed vociferously, she published a blog called “Opinionated but Right.”
“I think her perception of how she saw the country going under [former President] Obama ignited her about how she thought and about how she could get involved,” Andrew said.
Bob Jenkins, who has been active with the Pitkin County Republican Party for years, mourned Sandler’s passing this week.
“The last time I saw her she seemed to be doing great,” he noted.
The Sandler family started visiting Aspen in 1982 and Paul bought a pair of units at the Prospector Lodge around 1986, according to Andrew. His parents would move to Aspen full-time a decade later and reside in a home between Koch Park and the Aspen Ice Garden, which the family still owns.
Both sons inherited their dad’s business acumen and Andrew has become well known in Aspen for his enterprises, including Escobar (which he has since sold) and Bootsy Bellows.
“Mom was always encouraging me” to be an entrepreneur like my father, Andrew said.
Elaine enjoyed the nightlife, too, and reveled in the success of her son’s clubs.
“She was there for Nelly and Snoop Dog and Tim Montana,” Andrew said.
After their dad died, Andrew and Justin traveled extensively with Elaine, including recent trips to Italy and Greece.
The first sign her health was in decline came two years ago after she suffered shortness of breath, according to her son. This raised flags, since she was always careful to eat well and remain fit.
“She worked out from the day I was born,” he said.
Tests revealed Elaine had an 80 percent blockage of her heart. As it turned out, the blockage was associated with Lyme disease, which she unknowingly had for decades, Andrew said.
Remedies, including ozone therapy, were put into practice. But last week, on her late husband’s birthday, Elaine again struggled to catch her breath and “out of nowhere texted my brother and me,” Andrew said.
A good friend came by to give Elaine comfort while Andrew raced to her house. He cradled his mother in his lap as they were driven, with a police escort, to the hospital.
She was airlifted to Denver and remained on life support until Monday. Andrew said he played the classic song “Stairway to Heaven” as he left his mother’s hospital room for the final time.