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John Keleher

A native of Albuquerque, N.M., John first heard of Aspen as result of publicity about the FIS ski races. He first skied here in 1955. Following graduation from the University of New Mexico with a degree in Architectural Engineering, he served with the U.S. Navy (Seabees) from 1959 to 1962.

In 1973, at the request of his good college friend, Chuck Vidal, John and Linda moved to Aspen with their three sons, and he began working for Real Estate Affiliates. Throughout his subsequent career in construction, John was involved with many prominent buildings in the community, including Aspen Elementary School, Aspen Music Festival’s Benedict Music Tent and Harris Concert Hall, Aspen Center for Physics, Aspen Meadows renovation, Pitkin County Library, Silver Queen Gondola Building, The Little Nell Hotel, Bumps, Silvertree Hotel, Thrift Shop, St. Mary Church Rectory, and three stations for the Aspen Fire Protection District.

Shortly after their arrival in town, John and Linda became active in church, community and school activities. He helped coach middle school football, and served on superintendent and principal selection committees. A member of the Aspen Ski Club, John was elected president of the board in 1981, serving until 1984. Also in 1981, he joined the Rotary Club, where through the years he served as president, head duck of the Ducky Derby fundraiser and co-chaired the World Community Service Committee, benefitting families in Mexico, Central and South America and Africa.  He received the Tom Sardy Award for outstanding leadership and service in 1999.

When Aspen began hosting America’s Downhill, John, along with many friends, volunteered. After two years boot packing and slipping the course, he was asked to be chief starter, which he did for almost 20 years.

Through the years his community participation, has included: Pitkin County Library board, Neighbor to Neighbor chair, Homeless Shelter volunteer, Habitat for Humanity family selection committee, St. Mary Church parish council, Western Slope Catholic Charities board and the Archbishop’s Pastoral Council. Each year he joins in the festivities of the St. Patrick’s Day dinner at St. Mary Catholic Church.

In the late ’70s, in conjunction with the Jerry Lewis Muscular Dystrophy Telethon, John and Linda, with the assistance of friends, organized a local telethon to raise funds to combat the disease that took the life of their oldest son John.

Never one to shy away from new challenges, John took up running at the age of 68, and has completed five marathons, three of which raised funds for Challenge Aspen.

John remains active with volunteer commitments.  His most important one at present is to his three grandchildren, Patrick, Finn and Kate.