Steamboat loses a leading citizen in Mary Brown Tomasini
John Tomasini, the husband of the late Mary Brown Tomasini, together with (Mary’s daughters) Lisa Brown and Kristin Wilson, announced by e-mail that the family will host a celebration of life on 3-7 p.m., Friday, June 22, at The Steamboat Grand Hotel ballroom. All are welcome.
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Former Steamboat Springs City Council President Mary Brown Tomasini, who played a role in the original construction of the Yampa River Core Trail and spearheaded the creation of the Steamboat Springs Boys & Girls Club — died May 24 in Denver from complications related to a severe spinal injury she suffered in summer 2017. She was 68.
Brown Tomasini never fully recovered from an Aug. 6, 2017, bicycling accident on U.S. Highway 40 inside the southern city limits of Steamboat that left her paralyzed below the neck. She was resuscitated at the scene by Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue EMTs and airlifted to Denver Health’s Level I trauma center, where she was diagnosed with fractures of the C1 and C2 vertebrae. She subsequently underwent rehabilitation at Craig Hospital in Denver.
Later, she and her husband, John Tomasini, moved into an apartment in the Cherry Creek District of Denver. After months of therapy and hard work, she had seen little improvement and it was beginning to wear on Mary, her husband said.
In December 2017, Brown Tomasini greeted a guest while partially reclined in her motorized wheelchair and sipping water from a straw. In a conversation that lasted 90 minutes, she eagerly asked questions about what was transpiring in Steamboat Springs and Routt County.
As recently as May 21, Tomasini was upbeat, posting on Caring Bridge:
“Today, the weather enhanced our desire to get outside, So, we packed a lunch and drove over to Cherry Creek reservoir and we pic-nick’d. It was a fine afternoon while we enjoyed our food. The temperature (was) perfect and the company was extraordinary.”
But he had previously announced that Mary had elected to seek in-home hospice.
On Thursday, the day his wife died, Tomasini wrote:
“Today, God has come calling. It is with deep regret that I tell everyone my Mary has passed on to a better life than she has had for the past eight months.”
A passion for horses
In her early years in Routt County, Brown Tomasini was a horsewoman who taught horseback riding. But more than that, she was an equestrian, often sought out to ride other peoples’ horses in hunter/jumper and grand prix events.
She went on to have a varied career that took her from the Colorado Capitol in Denver to Grand Junction, where she served for three years as director of external affairs for the Quality Health Network, a Grand Junction-based nonprofit designed to improve health care information, technology and services for western Colorado.
Here in Steamboat, Brown Tomasini served on Steamboat Springs City Council from 1987 to 1995 and was council president from 1989 to 1993.
Paula Cooper Black, who served with Brown Tomasini on City Council, told Steamboat Pilot & Today on May 25 that during that time, the council was very ambitious.
“I think that council was extremely effective, and Mary was very mindful of community,” she said. “One of our goals was to have the (Yampa River Core Trail) go from Dinosaur (National Monument) to Oak Creek. That’s never going to happen, but we thought big.”
It was also historic: “It was the first council in the state of Colorado that had a majority of women,” Cooper Black said.
Other women on that council included the late Rita Tolson (Valentine) and Julie Green.
Another significant piece of Brown Tomasini’s legacy will always be derived from her determination to open the Boys & Girls Club in downtown Steamboat Springs, which continues to provide affordable, drop-in enrichment for children whose families, not infrequently have complicated schedules. It is just one example of her motivation to help other people.
“Mary always wanted to make a difference,” her husband said. “It became a foundation for what she was all about, and the road that she traveled. Life to her was helping others.”
Anyone wanting to honor Brown Tomasini‘s life is encouraged to do so with a donation to the Boys & Girls Club of Steamboat Springs in her name, John Tomasini said.
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