7-7claudia alonzo webOn Monday evening, June 29, 2015, Claudia B. Alonzo of Cripple Creek, CO passed away from a heart attack in her home. Her daughter, Cindy Alonzo was close by as she was staying to help Claudia’s healing from a recently broken ankle. Claudia is survived by her husband, Gerald Alonzo of Los Gatos, CA; daughters Kristine Alonzo Strasburger of Spirit Lake, ID, Karin Alonzo Hansen and Julie Alonzo, both of Eugene, OR, and Cindy Alonzo of Florissant, CO; sons-in-law Keith Strasburger, Graham Hansen and Lance Yehl of Florissant, CO; grandchildren A1C Timothy Strasburger, USAF and Benjamin Strasburger, Meagan Hansen and Donald Hansen. She was preceded in death by her mother, brother then father.
Claudia truly was a woman who lived her 71 years fully and well. She touched many lives, through her work with 4H, High 4-H, Youth groups, School Boards in California and Colorado, her therapy practice, and many, many strong relationships outside those groups.
Born in Seattle in 1943, the firstborn child of Nancy and Claude Bourne, she spent time in Washington, Hawaii and California as a child (her father was a career Naval Aviation Engineer, and the family moved a bit as he was stationed in different areas). She lost her younger brother many years ago, a loss which she mourned until her passing. She was determined to help others find the courage not to give up, even when their paths were in darkness.
She married Gerald Alonzo soon after graduating from high school, and together they raised four daughters: Kristine, Karin, Julie and Cindy. Cindy spent the past 12 years helping to ensure that Claudia had the opportunity to continue to life independently. Cindy helped her experience a variety of adventures in this last decade ~ horseback riding, soaking in natural hot springs, support staff for an archeological dig, and accompanying her to join her family in traveling to Washington D.C and Hawaii. Last summer, the two of them drove the RV from Colorado to Oregon, where Claudia spent a month camping out and visiting with family members in the area, before she and her grandson Donald drove back to Colorado together. She was a great traveler ~ many who traveled with her considered her an excellent traveling companion: often wandered, but never lost.
Claudia truly had a love for adventure. She went back to college once her daughters were in school, earning her Bachelor’s degree from U.C. Santa Cruz, with a dual major in Psychology and Photography. While there, she took many road trips, both by herself and with her fellow college students / young friends from her High 4-H group. On one such adventure, she spent a month at a photography school in the old mining town of Victor, Colorado. During that visit, she first fell in love with Cripple Creek, the town she eventually moved to after selling her home in California.
She also traveled to Washington D.C. to take part in the big anniversary of the MLK March on Washington, photographing the experience, and to the former Soviet Union, as part of a group organized by the United Church of Christ.
While her daughter Julie was in college, Claudia joined her for a road trip from Minnesota to the East Coast, then back up through Canada… a decade or so ago, they spent two weeks exploring Ireland… and more recently, she took part in a family trip to Hawaii, complete with an incredible, unforgettable late-night ocean swim with Manta rays.
Claudia’s photography has been featured in calendars and hung in galleries. Her creativity did not end there, however. Off and on for the past five years, she put her writing skills to good use, drafting stories that are currently in use throughout the United States as an integral part of the University of Oregon’s easyCBM system, which helps teachers identify students at risk for reading disabilities and evaluate the impact of their instruction, with the goal of helping them ‘catch up’ to grade-level peers. More recently, she drafted hundreds of tiny short stories for a different research project funded by the U.S. Institute for Education Sciences.
More than anything, though, Claudia’s passion was in helping people find their inner strength and lead productive, healthy lives. She counseled, both professionally and habitually, often without pay, and always with compassion and heart. As far back as her children can remember, their family shared “Mom” with countless others — and never once did she shy away from extending her heart and loving arms to those in need.
Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners at the Alonzo house were community gatherings more often than not, and she always found a way to offer a haven when one was needed.
Claudia and her daughters had talked about death many times over the years ~ her family has a long history of death by heart attack at a very young age. Always aware that her ‘expiration date’ had long-since passed, Claudia was determined to enjoy every moment she was granted.
It was her wish to go quickly when her time finally came, and that wish was granted.
Claudia’s motto was: “I asked, ‘Why doesn’t somebody do something?’ and then I realized… I AM somebody.” She lived every day with this thought in mind. When she saw something that needed doing, she did it.
Many people have asked about services ~ all of Claudia’s daughters were able to be at her home in Cripple Creek together on the 4th of July. Since Claudia often held a party on that day for friends and family, an open house Celebration of Life was held on this day. Attempts were made to contact as many of her local friends as possible. A second Celebration of Life open house potluck will be held August 22, 2015 from 1-5 p.m. at her residence, 410 W. Schideler Ave., Cripple Creek, CO 80813.
For those of you who knew and loved her, ‘paying it forward’ stepping forward to ‘do’ when you see something that needs to be done would be the best tribute imaginable.