Described as ‘deep and loving,’ Alexandra Yajko honored with Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association’s Athena Award
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
CARBONDALE, Colorado ” Glenwood Springs philanthropist Ron Limoges remembers the exact moment Alexandra Yajko walked into his tiny office in the Hotel Colorado basement.
“She came in wearing a floor-length red leather coat,” Limoges recalled.
The year was 1977 and Limoges offered Yajko a job as his secretary. She instantly made an impact.
“I hired her at $2.85 an hour,” he said. “She is the best person I’ve hired in over 32 years. She’s a wonder.”
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Limoges’ wife, Alison, quickly befriended Yajko, an immigrant from Poland who moved to the mountains of Colorado as a reminder of her homeland. The long-time friends now work together raising funds for the Colorado Mountain College Foundation, where Yajko is chief executive officer.
“She is a remarkable boss and a friend,” Alison Limoges said. “She doesn’t sweat the small stuff. She is so gracious with her love and her thanks.”
Yajko was the center of attention Thursday evening at the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association’s 22nd Annual Awards Gala at the Aspen Glen clubhouse. Ron and Alison Limoges were among the numerous friends, family members and colleagues who gathered to honor the 2009 recipient of the chamber’s coveted Athena Award for professional excellence.
“She opens herself and her life and her love to all,” Alison Limoges said. “She used to give me her son’s hand-me-down clothes. I have seen her take in under her wing new people in the community, especially women, and they are instantly her friend.”
Tracey Yajko described her mother as a modern art lover and her soulmate.
“She is absolutely the embodiment of a mother,” she said. “She’s my strength. It’s all her … She has this outlook on life that is incredibly positive.”
Alex Yajko’s list of accomplishments and volunteer efforts in the community is as long as the line of her well-wishers after the Awards Gala. She is credited for helping raise $20 million for higher education, has volunteered for Nurses With Purpose, serves as a Child Help Foundation board member, and is a past president of Rotary.
And that’s just the beginning.
“She works hard, she’s dedicated and she has an affinity for education and helping others,” said her husband of 19 years, Dr. Doug Yajko. “She’s not going to quit. She just loves what she does.”
Holding back tears while smiling as she accepted the Athena award, Alex Yajko’s honesty and graciousness were as apparent as her sense of style.
“If this is what 15 minutes of fame looks like, then this is a glorious 15 minutes of fame, ” she said. “This is so much. If I deserve this honor, I deserve it only because of you.”
Thanking her friends, colleagues and three children, Yajko recalled her past as the strong foundation to her professional success. She moved to the Western Slope in 1977 from New York after a journey from Poland as a 16-year-old refugee with little money and minimal English-speaking skills.
“Not bad for a Polish-Jewish immigrant,” she said. “Only in America.”
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