Obituary: Mary von Dedenroth, 54
Mary “Tia” von Dedenroth lived huge in the Vail Valley for 25 years. During that time, she became well known as an overly generous friend, a brassy storyteller, a crazy Packer fan, a selfless and overworked caregiver, an endless source of delightedly vulgar jokes and a fiercely loving aunt. She nestled into the hearts of countless locals. Mary passed away Sunday, April 22, due to breast cancer and complications thereof. She was 54.
Mary Von came onto the scene from her home state of California, where she had grown up with five siblings in a boisterous, chaotic ranch house (she and one brother were affectionately known as “the demolition squad”). Before college, she spent a year in Saas Fe, Switzerland, managing a boutique hotel, learning Swiss German and becoming close friends with the family owners.
After graduating from the University of Arizona in communications, she spent two years in the corporate world as a real estate title rep, where she blew people away with her over-the-top attention to putting a face on the company. She’d spend hours working on little gift packages to drop off to clients. Sometimes these visits to businesses would fall below the daily goal because she became too engrossed in chatting up the client and making a new friend in the process. She also moonlighted as a sales associate for Nordstrom, but finally found her true calling in the mountains of Colorado.
In 1993, she moved to Vail. Jumping into the universal Vail Valley job of food and beverage transfer engineer, Mary worked the tables of Fiesta’s, Los Amigos, Chophouse and numerous others, where her mark was made and hearts were won. She also started her career as a ski instructor and just this year qualified for a lifetime pass.
Preternaturally empathetic, she comfortably slipped into the role of caregiver for a wonderful lady with multiple sclerosis and again became fast friends with the whole family. Another “endearing” (or, some might say, obnoxious) quality was her voracious appetite for unfamiliar words. She loved to try out obscure definitions on people she deemed worthy of stumping.
But perhaps one of her most defining moments came when her sister, Lulu Garton, gave birth to Bailey. Mary Von instantly became “Tia” (short for a clever play on the popular drink at the time, Tia Maria). Secondary only to their parents, she took responsibility for all nephews and nieces to come (Rio, Quaid, Regnor and Stella). She was the aunt who would drop everything for them, slip them cash and other gifts she couldn’t afford, tell jokes a bit too ribald for young ears and become a vital part of all their lives.
More than once, the kids and Tia would confide in each other some things that were beyond a parent’s scope. A sad footnote to this is that she had just gained another nephew and niece who will not grow up with the benefit of a Tia.
Tia was spastic, bombastic, scholastic and … fantastic. A celebration of life will be orchestrated for mid-June. Please stand by for details.