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Marka Moser remembered as a vital force in Vail who’d take on just about any task

Longtime local known for her focus on kids, families

After decades of service to the town, Marka Moser was honored with the 2023 Vail Trailblazer Award.
Town of Vail/Courtesy photo

Marka Moser knew how to get things done. And countless parts of Vail have felt her touch.

Moser, 83, died Oct. 28. She’s lovingly remembered by friends, family, and the many people who became de facto family members.

Moser and her then-husband, Kris, along with daughters Mary Catherine and Barbara, from Moser’s first marriage, moved to Vail in 1970. The Mosers soon had children of their own, sons Michael and Matthew. Moser raised all four of those children after she and Kris split up.

Honoring Marka

Marka Moser’s son Michael said there will be a celebration of life for his mother, Marka. But the date is uncertain, with two siblings out of the country at the moment.

Not long after her arrival, Moser got to know Diana Donovan through their kids’ involvement in school and other activities. The Mosers lived in West Vail at the time, while the Donovans lived near the Vail Golf Club. Those two neighborhoods were a long way apart in those days, but the two moms quickly became friends, bonding over kids, environmental issues and community projects.

Moser at the time was working for the Vail Trail, covering the education beat. Camera and notebook in hand, she made it her job to make sure every kid in the local schools had a mention and a photo in the local newspaper, which put any number of clippings on refrigerator doors.

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Moser’s decades of work with a camera took a toll. Michael recalled that his mother developed severe arthritis in her left, camera-holding, hand, and the index finger on her right hand, which pressed down the shutter of that camera so many times.

She was involved in, well, everything

While the kids were in school, Moser was deeply involved in any number of community projects. Waiting for a ride home, Michael recalled that the question wasn’t whether their mother would be late, but how late she’d be that day.

But all that community work resulted in a host of friends, as well as kids who adopted the Mosers.

“Thanksgiving was always interesting,” Michael recalled. One year the family was hosting a handful of folks from Australia. Moser eventually asked one of the Aussies, “How many people did you invite?”

There may have been 40 people in that small West Vail condo that day, Michael recalled.

Mia Vlaar was working at the Vail Valley Foundation and had recently had her fourth child when she got to know Moser through organizing the first Vail Dance Festival.

“She decided she was going to be a grandmother to my kids and a mother to me,” Vlaar said. “She adopted us.”

Moser adopted a lot of people, both children and adults. Donovan recalled that Moser became a kind of neighborhood grandma.

“She wanted to do everything she could to help,” kids 鈥 and, if needed, their mothers, Vlaar said.

Michael noted that his mother “was willing to give of herself to anyone in need,” from mothers in abusive relationships to kids and young adults who needed a trusted adult in their lives.

Through their years of friendship, Vlaar and Moser shared their love of the outdoors, the community, children and the performing arts.

Rohn Robbins, the founder and board president of the Vail Valley Charitable Fund, served with Moser on that board for more than 20 years.

She ‘knew everybody’

Moser “knew everybody,” Robbins recalled. This time of year, the Charitable Fund’s 13 board members send personal notes to donors and others. It’s a big job, with about 1,800 notes to be written and sent. Moser would take on writing 400 or so of those notes, Robbins recalled.

“She was very bright, very perceptive and a very good writer,” Robbins recalled.

The loss of Moser and Vi Brown so close together is a blow to the community, Robbins said.

“They were so integral to the community, and selflessly so,” Robbins said.

Both women were involved for many years in the Community Rummage sale in Minturn.

Moser was also integral in finding a home for the ABC Preschool, a precursor of today’s Children’s Garden of Learning. Donovan recalled that Moser and Pam Brandmeyer cosigned on a loan for the facility’s building, then just a double-wide mobile home that had been a financial institution’s office in West Vail.

“Mom said she didn’t want her name on the building, but on the deed (to it),” Michael recalled.

Donovan recalled that the folks at ABC made those loan payments over the years. Not too long ago, the bank holding the loan sent Moser and Brandmeyer letters that the note had been paid, something of a surprise to the two of them.

“They’d forgotten about it,” Donovan said.

As Donovan and Moser worked together over the years, Donovan noted that Moser was a person who got things done through people who had volunteered. That doesn’t always happen, Donovan noted. And a volunteer who didn’t follow through on a commitment only made that mistake once.

Moser never sought recognition for her work, and Donovan said her friend was surprised and touched at being named the recipient of the 2023 Vail Trailblazer Award. That award is given every year to people who have had an impact on the growth and development of the community.

Former Vail Town Clerk Pam Brandmeyer was among those who nominated Moser for the award. Brandmeyer and Moser also got to know each other through their kids, and then on through the years.

Moser, along with Brown, were involved in just about anything the community needed, Brandmeyer said.

“They’d take it on, no questions asked,” she recalled.

During the nomination process, Michael told town officials they needed to honor Moser sooner than later. She’d been in declining health for some time, and she and her family knew her time was probably short.

When she was honored, “She didn’t know what to say, she was in tears,” Michael recalled. For all her many efforts, “She didn’t expect anything in return,” he added.


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