Claude Stephenson passed away from natural causes on August 29, 2023. There will be a Memorial for Claude sometime in the future. His wife, Zoë Economou, has been hospitalized with COVID-19 but should be home by the weekend.
Claude Stephenson Obituary
Claude Stephenson passed away at his home in Albuquerque’s South Valley. When medical help arrived at the house his wife Zoe appeared to be dehydrated and was taken to the hospital where she tested positive for covid. Claude and Zoe had just attended Santa Fe Tradfest the weekend of August 25 – 27. We are suggesting that anyone who had close proximity to Claude and Zoe at the festival should take reasonable precautions.
Who was Claude Stephenson?
Claude was one of a kind. When he was a teenager he left New Mexico for an extended trip back East and immersed himself in bluegrass music, which of course became a lifelong passion. He played mandolin with the Big River Boys for many years and later with Elliott’s Ramblers, and many other aggregations. His Ph.D. work focused on Matachines dances in New Mexico, and he served for a number of years as NM State Folklorist, where, among other things, he managed folklife grants, including those that for many years supported the Santa Fe Banjo & Fiddle Contest, later the Santa Fe Bluegrass & Old-Time Music Festival.
He played a central role as a key advisor in establishing the Santa Fe TradFest in 2017. Claude was a long-time producer/DJ on KUNM in Albuquerque. Claude and Zoe have been pillars of the NM music community for well over 40 years. They hosted an annual soiree every summer at their South Valley homestead, with who knows how many friends attending.
Claude will be fondly remembered and greatly missed. Our deepest sympathies and offers of help go out to Zoe, and his family and friends.