The Aspen community is mourning the passing a long-time volunteer firefighter and former teacher. The Aspen Times reports Willard Clapper died at his home on Thursday after battling lymphoma. Clapper was raised in Aspen and, was well-known and well-loved by his community. On Friday his fellow firefighters held a remembrance.
"It’s a tradition in the fire service to have a Last Alarm service when a firefighter passes," says Fire Chief Rick Balentine. "So today we did a page and held a Last Alarm service at 10 o’clock for Willard."
Clapper was a volunteer firefighter for the Aspen Protection District and served there for several decades.
"Willard was an Aspen Volunteer Fire Department for 35 years this year, so he was one of our longest term members," says Balentine. "After 35 years, he was more than a member, he was part of the fabric of our department. Willard was a guy who always had a big smile on his face. It’s sad to lose someone who’s been part of our department for so long."
Clapper served as chief of the fire department before he became ill. And, his family has deep roots with the department his father was chief and his brother, Tom, serves on the fire district board. Patti Clapper, a candidate for Pitkin County Commissioner, was Willard’s sister-in-law.
A memorial service will likely be held at the firehouse and a shrine has been set up, where friends and family are placing flowers. Clapper was 63 years old.