Obituary: Violet Effinger
June 11, 1925 – April 27, 2022
Vi Effinger, Beloved Postmistress at Copper Mountain, Dies at 96
Violet Effinger, who moved to Copper Mountain in 1975 and ran the post office there for 27 years, died in Steamboat Springs on April 27. She was 96.
Effinger, known as “Vi,” started working at the tiny Copper Mountain post office with long-time Summit County resident Jane Peterson when it was in a trailer at the base of the mountain.
The post office moved several times, adding boxes as the population grew. Effinger and Peterson remained the constant, along with their bowl of Jolly Rancher candies. Friends sent the pair thousands of postcards over the years, which they hung in the windows. Peterson left the job in 1986, but Effinger kept up the tradition.
“She made every person she met feel like they were the most important one in the room,” said long-time friend Carmen Yonn. “It was a gift she carried with her throughout her life.”
President Bill Clinton honored Effinger on her 25th anniversary in October 2000.
“America’s strength as a nation has always depended on citizens who understand the value of hard work and commitment,” Clinton wrote. “Your steadfast devotion to public service is an inspiring example of caring and leadership.”
Effinger retired from the post office in 2002, at the age of 77. She returned to work two years later, staffing the information center at Copper.
“I didn’t care for retirement,” Effinger told the Summit Daily News in 2005. “I got to see so many people come and go. It was a job, but it was a fun one.”
Violet Rita Effinger was born in Denver on June 11, 1925. Her parents had immigrated from Sicily. Her father, Gregory, worked at a Denver brick factory. Her mother, Concetta, raised four children in a house on Grove Street.
Effinger served as a secretary at Buckley Field during World War II, where she met Tom Effinger, a sergeant from Milwaukee who ran the rifle range. The two married in April 1945 and moved to Aspen, where Tom ran the Red Onion restaurant and managed the Hotel Jerome.
The family left Aspen in the late 1940s. Tom became a salesman for Thatcher Glass and then American Can Co., selling bottles and cans to breweries in the Midwest. His job took them to St. Paul, Minnesota, Chicago, New York, Louisville, Kentucky, and Denver.
Longing to return to the mountains, the Effingers moved to Vail, where Tom sold real estate and Vi ran an interior decorating company. After a year there, they moved over the pass to Copper in 1975.
Tom started Carbonate Real Estate with Tom Malmgren, who became a life-long friend of Vi’s, and Vi ran the post office with Peterson. They did the “mail run” to Frisco every afternoon. Many days, they also took the resort’s cash and checks to the bank.
One day, a man in an employee jacket arrived and said he needed a ride to the clinic in Frisco. At the entrance to Copper, he drew a gun and told Effinger and a colleague to stop the van and get out. Police recovered the van on the road to Leadville but never caught the thief.
Effinger lived at Copper until 2016, when she moved into an assisted living facility in Steamboat Springs, where her son Tom Jr. lives with his family.
In addition to Francie and Tom Jr., Effinger is survived by her older sister Josephine, her daughter Lisa, son Anthony, seven grandchildren, and 11 great-grandchildren.
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