Robert "Cowboy Bob" Matteson, pictured here in Oak Creek's Elk's Tavern, was thought to be the town's only homeless man. He died Sunday morning at age 63.
A memorial service for Robert "Cowboy Bob" Matteson is from 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Elk's Tavern in Oak Creek.
Steamboat Springs Robert Matteson was a familiar figure around Oak Creek, where he often worked odd jobs scooping snow in the winter and mowing grass in the summer. He was homeless for most of his years in Oak Creek, but he always was ready to work, those who knew him best said Monday.
Known by most as "Cowboy Bob," Matteson died Sunday at the age of 63.
Shirley Montieth, owner of the Elk's Tavern in Oak Creek, called herself "probably the best friend he had in Oak Creek." She said Matteson had lived in the South Routt County town for about seven or eight years. She didn't hesitate to put him to work, and he didn't hesitate to accept the offers.
Montieth said Matteson often would bring in coal and take out the ash in the winter.
"He did sit in here a lot, drink water and visit with me. If I needed him to run an errand for me, he'd jump up and do it," she said Monday.
A black-and-white photo of Matteson, taken by a photographer visiting Oak Creek from Evergreen, hangs in the Elk's Tavern along with his veteran's hat recovered from the shed where Matteson was found dead Sunday morning.
It is thought that Matteson was a veteran of the Vietnam War.
Montieth said Matteson talked about serving for four years in the military, mostly as a military police officer in Germany. Matteson's military record could not be confirmed Monday.
LIFT-UP of Routt County food bank manager Pam Graham said Matteson would come to the food bank in lean times.
"If he was working and bringing in some money, I wouldn't see him. He came by more in the winter when he didn't have as much work, and it was a good place to visit and chat," she said.
Graham said Matteson's requests were simple.
"He wanted cheese and crackers. That's all he wanted. And chocolate," she said. For bringing him chocolate, Matteson would call Graham "sweetheart," she said.
Former Oak Creek Mayor Kathy "Cargo" Rodeman said Matteson was someone to turn to for odd jobs around town.
"If you needed somebody to mow your yard or stack your wood, you would know who could use the money. And if you had leftover meatloaf, you'd know who would appreciate it," she said.
Rodeman said there were some complaints about Matteson when he first moved to town, but as people got to know him, those concerns went away.
"There was nothing harmful about the man," she said. "He would work for whatever it was he needed."
She also said he brought out the best in some Oak Creek residents, who would make sure he had a warm place to stay during a cold winter night.
Montieth said Matteson was "just more or less kind of homeless. (He) bummed around from here to there doing whatever handiwork he could find."
Matteson was found early Sunday in a shed north of Main Street. Routt County Coroner Rob Ryg said it appears Matteson died of natural causes; an autopsy is scheduled for this morning in Jefferson County.
Ryg said Matteson has one son, Robert Michael Matteson, who lives in New York. Montieth said she thinks Matteson originally was from Rochester, N.Y. Ryg said Matteson also has a couple of brothers. His son will handle funeral arrangements.
- To reach Zach Fridell, call 871-4208 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org