Eagle’s Claussner remembered as a great dad, true friend | VailDaily.com

Eagle’s Claussner remembered as a great dad, true friend

EAGLE, Colorado “-Friends of long-time local Michael Claussner lost a buddy this week ” the kind of guy who helped out when you needed him and who was fun to be around.

And most of all, Claussner’s friends talked about what a great dad he was.

Claussner, 62, of Eagle died Sunday while snowmobiling with a friend south of Eagle. Eagle County Coroner Kara Bettis said an autopsy revealed he died of “positional asphyxia.”

“The snowmobile was on top of him, he couldn’t breath,” Bettis said.

Claussner was snowmobiling with a friend in the Yeoman Park backcountry area of the White River National Forest, according to the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office. Claussner’s friend, who officials say did not witness the accident, called authorities at 3:40 p.m. Members of the Vail Mountain Rescue Group responded to the call.

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Yeoman park is located about 15 miles south off Eagle on East Brush Creek Road.

Professionally, Dr. Michael Claussner was a psychologist who counseled adults, couples and adolescents. He had offices in both Eagle and Eagle-Vail. But when his wife, Ann Marie Sanders, gave birth to the couple’s now-teenage son Evan, Mike decided to be a stay-at-home dad. For many years Evan and Mike were frequently spotted around town ” at the library or the coffee shop. As his son grew older, Mike and Evan branched out to hiking and other outdoor adventures.

“When Evan was competing in freestyle, Mike would wear this crazy, big, old hat. There he would be, screaming for Evan,” said family friend Elizabeth James.

James said Mike was always out with the boys ” Evan and his buddies.

“To the kids, Mike was like everyone’s big bother. More like a playmate than a dad,” said Pete Brandes of Eagle.

The Brandes family ” Pete and his wife Jane and children Katy and Henry ” were solid friends of the Claussner clan. The two families spent holidays and traveled the globe together. When the Brandes family spent a year as missionaries in Tanzania, Africa, the Claussners visited. After that trip, Mike and Ann Marie decided to sponsor one of the local girls and they committed to financing her education.

“That was a very important thing for that particular girl,” said Brandes.

Mike also stepped in to help out with kids closer to home.

For many years, Brandes worked long, emergency services shifts with an erratic schedule. “Mike was Henry’s dad when I wasn’t there,” says Brandes. “Evan and Henry are like brothers.”

In addition to friends and family, Mike had a great love for Fulford, the abandoned historic mining town that is now home to vacation cabins. Mike built his own dwelling there.

“I will always think of campfires up at Fulford and Mike telling stories. He loved being at Fulford so much,” says James.

Brandes said he spent the day with Mike on Saturday, watching their boys play lacrosse in Grand Junction. Brandes said Mike had purchased a 100-pound bag of bird seed and was excited about taking it up to Fulford. Brandes, like so many of Mike’s friends, was shocked to learn about his death Sunday as he was snowmobiling home.

“It’s a loss to the whole community, it really is. Mike did a lot of things for people here,” said Brandes.

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