June Marian Shaputis, 75, of Buena Vista died Oct. 12, 2019, at home, surrounded by loved ones and friends.
She was born July 3, 1944, in Fresno, California, to Minnie June Ford Murdock and Harry Murdock, while her father was enlisted.
Later the family returned to Denver, where she met her future husband, Larry Shaputis.
They were married Oct. 21, 1961. They had three sons, Larry Jr., Scot and Shawn Kevin Shaputis.
Shortly after getting married, the couple moved to Buena Vista. Mrs. Shaputis adjusted to rural life as she went, sometimes through a series of mishaps.
While learning high-altitude gardening, she nearly set the house on fire when she decided to sterilize the fertilizer in the microwave.
Animal husbandry was another challenge. Once she called vet Art Dodge to report that her chicken was dead after being mistreated by the 14 roosters to one chicken she’d acquired. He explained there was usually one rooster to several chickens and assured her the chicken probably died happy.
Mrs. Shaputis learned to identify and cook local plants from books and the advice of locals. She memorized and recited ghost stories to children. Her family said she haunted local cemeteries, investigated local ghost towns and found great pleasure walking down shadowy dirt roads.
She loved history and used to joke about collecting dead people. Over time she collected hundreds of epitaphs. One of her favorites was inscribed on the tombstone of a hypochondriac and stated, “I told you I was sick.” She used that knowledge to conduct cemetery tours where she’d tell local history and funny headstone epitaphs.
She also became a local historian. To earn money for Buena Vista Heritage, she co-wrote “A History of Chaffee County,” 1982. She also wrote “Chaffee County, Colorado Burials,” 1987, and chronicled burials and historical facts in a book called “Where the Bodies Are,” 1995.
After retirement she provided a free service helping people trying to locate their ancestors in the area.
Melodrama was another of Mrs. Shaputis’ interests. Her family said she was a natural ham, so she sashayed around the stage in boas playing madams and villainesses.
Chuck Nachtrieb, a friend and fellow thespian, called her Her Royal Plumptatodness. He played villain to her villainess in “He Promised Me Roses.”
Mr. Shaputis would build the sets, and the couple participated in every production available.
Once she was thrown off a horse and injured her back. Her friend and fellow actor Linda Bryant recalled that she continued performing but had to be hoisted on and off the stage by stagehands and actors because she was in so much pain.
Mrs. Shaputis participated in volunteer work as well. She became an emergency medical technician and was part of the women’s auxiliary. She volunteered answering the crisis line, as a 4-H leader and curating the Buena Vista Heritage Museum for nearly 20 years.
Mrs. Shaputis was preceded in death by her sons Larry Shaputis Jr. and Scot Allen Shaputis; mother, Minnie June Ryan; father; and stepfather Daniel J. McDonough.
Survivors include her husband; son Shawn (Nicole) Shaputis; grandsons, Shawn Kyle Shaputis, Cameron (Kelsey) Shaputis and Cody Shaputis; granddaughter, Kira Shaputis; great-grandson, Raleigh Alexander Shaputis, stepfather Lee Ryan; sisters, Patty McDonough (Jeff Schippel), Jeanette McDonough (Patrick Horton) and Virginia Cook; stepsister, Shannon (Donny) Blossom; sisters-in-law, Sally Shaputis Olney and Francis Shaputis Gross; brother-in-law, Donald Shaputis; nieces, Whendy Widener, Danielle McDonough, Lina Berry, Erin Kyle, Linda Shaputis, Karen Shaputis, Joanne Gross, Dena Lynn Gross and Jolene Vernon; nephews, Allen (April) Cook, Ed Cook (Kenny Peters), James Scot and Michael Shaputis; and numerous grandnephews and grandnieces, cousins, aunts and friends.
Cremation was chosen. Her services will be at a later date.
Arrangements are with Lewis and Glenn Funeral Home in Salida.
Online condolences may be offered at lewisandglenn.com.
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