Colleen Adele Estes Cassell

January 7, 1938January 17, 2023
Obituary of Colleen Adele Estes Cassell
The incredible story of our sweet mother, Colleen Adele Estes Cassell, continued on to its heavenly chapter on January 17th, 2023 when she passed on peacefully, ten days after her 85th birthday. Colleen was a truly joyful person. The life she lived was such that we should all aspire to live; a life where everyone is treated like a dear friend! She has a long family history in Colorado, as the great, great granddaughter of Joel Estes, the founder of Estes Park, Colorado. She celebrated all things Hats with her "Hats ‘N History" one-woman show, performed so many times for charities, groups, and historical societies. Her true legacy is the excitement and zest for life she shared with us every day. A Celebration of Her Life of Joy is planned for Tuesday, January 24th at 1:00pm at Wind Crest Senior Living in Highlands Ranch, Colorado. Colleen herself has requested all those who plan to attend try and wear a hat! There will also be a small ice cream treat served afterward, as that was her favorite solution for all sadness and all celebration! In lieu of flowers, please feel free to donate to Redeemer Lutheran Church in Fort Collins, the St. Vrain Historical Society, or the Estes Park Museum. Fond memories are most welcome at The following saga was written, for the most part, by Colleen prior to her departure, noting that she thought she may have provided too much information to her daughter, Tammi, or possibly strayed from the facts. Some additions and composition changes have been made by her family. This is, however, her story as told, by her. Colleen Adele Estes Cassell was born January 7, 1938, to Donald Joel Estes and Virginia Sullivan Estes. At 11 lbs. plus, she was the biggest baby ever born at that hospital. In 7th Grade, the family moved to Longmont and lived in the Sullivan home at 829 Bross Street. She walked to Longmont High School on Main Street where the Junior High was attached to the south and was the old High School. Her parents, Don and Virginia, had graduated from Longmont High School in 1927 – the first class to graduate in the new building. Her Grandfather, Herbert Sullivan attended High School in the Old Building. In 1949, Colleen’s Grandmother, Anna Calkins Estes, passed away and her family moved into the Estes House at 410 Terry Street. At age 11, Colleen joined the Bank where she met Gary Gilbert Cassell, whom she married 10 years later. Colleen was a Cheerleader in High School and was Runner-Up for Homecoming Queen She was also elected Sweetheart of Longmont DeMolay, voted Most Popular in her senior yearbook and won a scholarship to Colorado State College of Education in Greeley (now University of Northern Colorado), where she majored in Elementary Education and Theatre. She graduated Longmont High School in 1955. Colleen received many honors and participated in many activities including: Sweetheart of Longmont DeMolay (again), candidate for Queen of the Freshman Ball, elected Secretary of Freshman Class, selected for Membership in Little Theatre of the Rockies Drama Group, played the part of “Emma” in “The Prescott Proposals”, chosen to join Pi Kappa Sigma (Now Alpha Phi) Sorority, chosen to join “SPUR” a Sophomore Honorary, Elected as Student Representative to the College Student Government (by majority ballot in the primary – first time in college history), member Pi Lambda Theta – Honorary Educational Association for Women, committee for “Helzabruin” Variety Show for Homecoming, Delegate to National Student Association meeting in Chicago, Queen of the 1957 C-State Invitational Swim meet, played “Christine” in “I Remember Mama” in November 1956, Chairman of Assemblies – Brought the “Hilltoppers” singing group, played “Angel” in “Angel in the Pawnshop” in February 1957, Campaigned for Eisenhower, played Marya the Mayor’s daughter in “The Inspector General” in the Spring of 1957, played “Valerie Barton” in “The River Line” Summer Theatre Production, played “Helen of Troy” in “Tiger at the Gates” – Summer Theatre Production, played a “Madwoman” in “The Madwoman of Chaillot” while also the Chairman of Costumes in the fall of 1958, inducted into Alpha Phi Omega – Honorary Dramatic Fraternity, inducted into “Angel Flight” Honorary affiliated with the Arnold Air Society, won a National Recipe Contest in Seventeen Magazine for “Peanut Butter Pie”, Candidate for Homecoming Queen in 1957, named to “Who’s Who in American Colleges and Universities” in November of 1957, elected “Sweetheart” of Lambda Chi Alpha, Gary’s fraternity in Fort Collins, inducted into “Gold Key” for high academic achievement, elected Jaycee Chuck Wagon Breakfast Hostess in July of 1958, played “Betsy Dean” in “Holiday for Lovers” presented by the Longmont Hospital Auxiliary, and worked as Supervisor and Storyteller at the Longmont Wading Pool Roosevelt Park. She spent one summer in the “Summer Theatre” on a scholarship. This enabled Colleen to graduate from college one quarter early. She was hired to teach 3rd grade in Colorado Springs, to finish the school year for a teacher who was pregnant. She graduated college in 1959. By this time, Colleen & Gary Cassell were engaged. Gary had joined ROTC and would graduate from CSU as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Air Force. His orders were to go to Japan in October, so they decided to get married in July so that Colleen could go. They were stationed in Wichita Falls, Texas to prepare for the trip to Japan. Colleen Estes and Gary Cassell were married July 29, 1959 in the Congregational Church across the alley from the Estes House, by the Methodist Minister. Colleen decided to try out for a play while in Wichita Falls. Gary went along to make sure there weren’t a bunch of weirdos. Colleen was chosen to be one of the “Girls” in the play, “The Girls in 509” and Gary got the part of the Newspaper Reporter. Colleen made her famous Peanut Butter Pie one night and Gary woke up with terrible pain… Appendicitis! Not food poisoning. Long Story. The big finish to the Wichita Falls story is that Gary & Colleen got their passports, shots, etc. for Japan…and the Air Force changed Gary’s orders. He was sent to Korea where spouses could not go. Colleen found out they were expecting and had to go home to live with her parents for 13 months. One really great thing: Collen & Gary’s first child, Doug Gary Cassell arrived on May 4, 1960 and saved Collen’s boring life. Gary came home in time for Christmas 1960. In January 1961, the family of three drove cross-country to Otis Air Force Base in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Gary’s job at that time was Luggage Transportation for President John F. Kennedy. Gary would unload luggage from the president’s plane, put it in a van, drive it to the Kennedy Compound, and unload it; often meeting Jackie Kennedy and Caroline, who was always anxious to see if daddy had brought her gifts. President Kennedy flew to Cape Cod on the weekends to be with his family and flew back to Washington on Sunday evening. Colleen’s job was taking care of Dougie. On May 16, 1962, Colleen & Gary welcomed their daughter, Tammi Colleen Cassell, born at the Base Hospital, where Jackie Kennedy later lost a baby. Gary finished his three-year obligation to the Air Force and got a job as a trainee for Household Finance Corporation where he learned to make loans. The family moved to South Bend, Indiana. By then, a third child, Joel Estes Cassell, was on the way. He was born on October 17, 1963, the day after the Cassell family had attended a Notre Dame Football Game. Gary was given his first HFC loan office in Azusa, California. The family again drove across the country, in July, in their Chevy with no air conditioning and with their little ones in the back seat sweating away. Colleen HATED California. By Christmas, the family had gone back to Colorado, where Gary went to work at Republic National Bank, opening with New Cinderella City Shopping Center in Englewood, Colorado. It is here in the story that Colleen began a second draft of her story, where she admonishes herself to “stick to the facts”. Colleen considered her greatest accomplishment in life to be her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. All made possible by the best man in all the world, her husband, Gary Cassell. She was the great, great granddaughter of Joel Estes, who discovered Estes Park; great granddaughter of Carlton Chase Calkins, a member of the Chicago Colorado Colony that founded Longmont in 1871; great granddaughter of Neil Carmichael Sullivan, who in 1890 began the Sullivan & Rowan Hardware Company in Longmont, was the Mayor of Longmont, Water Commissioner, and the Originator of Pumpkin Pie Days; granddaughter to Edwin Joel Estes, owner of the Colorado Creamery in Longmont and graduate of Colorado University; daughter of Virginia Sullivan Estes, civic leader and volunteer, and the first woman elected to the Longmont City Counsel; daughter of Donald Joel Estes, a graduate in Engineering from Colorado University in 1931; and sister to Virginia Anne Estes Scofield. Colleen was an accomplished author, having written many books in her lifetime including: “100 Years in Colorado Springs” The History of Colorado National Bank Exchange in Colorado Springs, Colorado, written when her husband, Gary, was president of the bank; “The Golden Pioneer – Biography of Joel Estes, the Man Who Discovered Estes Park”; “Songs of the Sullivans” History of the Longmont Sullivan Family, 600 pages (!), including Annie Sullivan’s Diary during the Civil War, 900 letters saved by family members dating back to 1875, over 100 pictures taken in this period by Herbert Sullivan and Della Sullivan, the gifted pianist, silent film music player, and band Leader; “The History of Longmont”, written by Colleen in High School as a research paper and run as a series in the Longmont Ledger; “410 Terry” History of the Estes Home in Longmont, going back as far as the Chicago colony; “The Calkins Chronicles” the history and genealogy of the Calkins Family in Longmont, going back as far as 1648 when they landed in America: and “Mad about Hats – A Scrapbook of History, Homilies, Habits of Hats”. She also wrote and performed, along with friends, in a second original play, “Della’s Letters”, using Della’s letters and Ragtime Music. Marrying a military man means moving – a lot. The Cassell family was residing in Wichita Falls, Texas in 1959. When Gary was sent to Korea, Colleen went to Longmont. When Gary came home 1960, they moved to Cape Cod (Falmouth), Massachusetts. It was then Teaticket, Massachusetts in 1961, Base Housing at the Otis Air Force base in 1962, first a duplex and then a two-bedroom house in South Bend, Indian in 1963, a motel then rented a house in West Covina (Azusa), California in 1964, The Sullivan House at 829 Bross Street in Longmont in 1964, a rented house on Spotswood in Littleton, Colorado in 1965, bought first house at 575 W Easter Place in Littleton, Colorado in 1966, bought the bigger house at 2486 W Davies in 1971, then 1317 Parkwood Drive in Fort Collins in 1975, 4876 Idylewild Trail in Boulder in 1983, first patio home at 2614 Ashgrove in Colorado Springs in 1986, 16131 Parkside Drive in Parker in 1992, back to Colorado Springs at 130 Balmoral Way in 1994, 120 Woodland Ct in Highlands Ranch in 1996, back up to Fort Collins in 2001 at 5120 Grand Cypress Court in 2001. Colleen finally settled down at Wind Crest Senior Living in Highlands Ranch – and then moved four more times while she was there! Colleen thought she may have been best known for her one woman show “Hats ‘N History”, mentioned earlier, where she showcased some of her many hats, a collection that was at one time reaching more than 700 hats! She performed her show all over Colorado for charities, historical societies, etc. She was always very active in her community – whatever community that was at any given time. She was a member of Redeemer Lutheran Church in Fort Collins, where she also sang in the Choir; a member of DAR, Colonial Dames, Territorial Daughters, Questers Antique Study Group, and the Calkins Family Association; President of the Estes Family Association; President of the Ladies Golf Association serving the Fort Collins County Club, Boulder Country Club, Broadmoor Country Club, and the Ptarmigan Country Club; was a Costume Rental Business Owner; an Actor, Costumer for and President of the Children’s Theatre in Fort Collins; Actor and Costumer for Littleton’s Fiasco show for four years; and wrote three original children’s plays for Walt Whitman Elementary School in Littleton, which she also performed in and costumed for. She was also an avid scrap booker, making 34 scrapbooks of her children’s lives, starting with high school and college, until 2011, then just annually after, as well as at least six scrapbooks for her grandchildren. Colleen also worked throughout her life. She taught 3rd grade at Garfield School in Colorado Springs, taught Preschool for 10 years in Littleton and Englewood for the South Suburban Parent Education Preschool, and two years at Denver University Preschool for children of Faculty. She was employed as a Preschool Storyteller for the Littleton and Englewood Library, and volunteered as a Storyteller for the Fort Collins Library. Colleen leaves behind a beautiful legacy in the lives of her children, Douglas Cassell and wife Nancy, Tammi Cassell Bullock and husband, Forde, and Joel Cassell, and wife Jamie; as well as her grandchildren, Sarah Banks, Rachel Edwards, Douglas Gary “D.J.” Cassell, Jr., Rebekah Mesker, Jenna Hill, Ryan Skogg, Andrew Cassell, and Nicholas Cassell; and her great-grandchildren, Adelyn & Kellen Johnson, Samantha, Adam, Elijah, Alexander, Iris, & Joshua Edwards, Jhett Hill, and Cash Skogg. She joins the greatest man in the world, her husband Gary Cassell, in the life after. Mother, grandmother, teacher, writer, actor, caregiver, and legend, Colleen Adele Estes Cassell will be truly missed and loved forever by all that were blessed to know her.

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Tuesday, January 24, 2023

A Celebration of Her Life of Joy