Cynthia Saraceno passed peacefully after a short illness at St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction, CO on January 11th, 2016 with her family at her side.
Born in South Milwaukee, WI on March 13th, 1935 to Mary (Fabinski) and William Durbahn, spent time with her Aunt in Detroit after her mother died from complications during childbirth in 1940. Her father, a police officer for the city of South Milwaukee, remarried to Veronica Fabke, an RN in public health, cared for him till his passing in 1986. Cynthia would travel to Milwaukee every year and was able to be there when her mom passed away in 2003.
Cynthia’s first visit to Aspen was a ski trip in 1955 while on break from Marquette University. She returned soon after to make the mountains her home. She met Bob Clapp, a ski racer, and married in 1957. Kimberly Clapp was born in March 1958 in the Aspen Citizen’s Hospital. Cynthia held jobs at many restaurants around town including the Golden Horn. She became friends and worked with Sami and Nino Hersig, who taught her cooking and catering skills that became her passion throughout her life.
In 1960, after a divorce, she moved to Chicago and worked at clubs in the downtown area, the most notable being the first Playboy Club opened by Hugh Hefner. Her second marriage was to Max Herrera and had a son, Christopher Herrera in 1961. Their marriage ended a few years later. Her third and final marriage was to Frank Saraceno. In 1967, they had a daughter Elizabeth Saraceno. Their connections with friends and work between Aspen and Chicago were many and brought them to Aspen often, eventually moving back permanently in 1969.
There were many places in Aspen she worked over the years: Hotel Jerome, Sardy’s Hardware, Whale of A Wash, Roaring Fork Chateau, Coats, Reid and Waldron, The Aspen Club, Mountain Maid Brigade (her own housekeeping company), Mellow Yellow Taxi, Aspen Limo, and her last job was driving for the Roaring Fork Transit Agency. Cynthia is preceded in death by her three husbands, Bob Clapp, Max Herrera, Frank Saraceno, and her daughter Kimberly Harris. Survivors include her sister Arline Fletcher of Ocean City NJ, who with her husband Warren have five sons and two daughters; son Chris Herrera, daughter Elizabeth Bergdahl (Matthew) of Aspen, four grandchildren – Cassidy Harris (Shauna) of Basalt, Jessica Harris (Forrest) of Loveland, Christopher and Madison Bergdahl of Aspen, and four great-grandchildren – Carly & Abby Harris, Riley & Kyla Reiff.
All that knew her remember her as a very strong and brave individual. Her sweet smile and witty charm could win a place in your heart, and if that didn’t work then her cooking would. She has left an indelible mark on the people that knew her and will be missed by many. A service will be planned for a later date in the spring/early summer.
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