Longtime local volunteer dies

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Clarissa "Criss" Fetcher of North Routt County died Wednesday at Doak Walker Care Center. She was 90.

Fetcher gave up city life in autumn 1949 to move with her husband, John, who survives her, and three toddlers to a cattle ranch near Clark.

"I always admired her for that," her son Jay Fetcher said. "She was a city girl and moved here with three little boys under the age of 4. It was his dream, but it changed her life more than it did my dad's."

They became one of the most influential families in Northwest Colorado.

Born March 31, 1915, in Plainfield, N.J., she was educated at Smith College, where she graduated with a bachelor of arts degree in Italian literature. She pursued a business career in New York City for five years, and in 1943, she married John Fetcher. They moved to suburban Philadelphia where sons Ned, Bill and Jay were born. In summer 1949, John and his brother Stanley toured Colorado in hopes of finding a ranch where two extended families could get away from city life. They found what they were looking for.

The youngest of John and Criss' children, Evelyn, was born soon after they arrived in Colorado.

Criss taught music in the Clark school for several years while her children were young, and she served the public through the Red Cross and later as a longtime board member of Routt County Memorial Hospital. She served as chairwoman of the Routt County Red Cross and took it upon herself to visit and meet people across the county. The chance to make friends through the Red Cross was one of the most rewarding experiences of her life, she told the Steamboat Pilot in 1968.

The Fetcher household was a busy place: As well as raising cattle, John was the president and general manager of the Steamboat Ski Area during its formative years. The Fetchers welcomed visitors from around the world.

Jay Fetcher said his mother continued to enjoy Alpine skiing until 2001, and she remained an active cross-country skier until 2003. She moved into Doak Walker Care Center in 2004.

Memorial services are pending.

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