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.

Courtesy Photo

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.

'Cowboy Bob' found dead

Oak Creek homeless man took on jobs to eke out an existence

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Memorial service

A memorial service for Robert "Cowboy Bob" Matteson is from 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Elk's Tavern in Oak Creek.

— 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 zfridell@steamboatpilot.com

Comments

flotilla 4 years, 9 months ago

Cowboy Bob was a nice man with a great character. His presence will be missed.

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oldskoolstmbt 4 years, 9 months ago

i worked with cowboy bob at the in-season bakery in steamboat about 13 years ago...one of the hardest and best workers in a kitchen i have ever been around and he was always a gentleman to all us women, good-bye bob....

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stephb 4 years, 9 months ago

That black and white photo is fantastic! Looks like someone was able to capture his character. Sounds like he was a gentle soul.

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julesed306 4 years, 9 months ago

Cowboy Bob was my Uncle. The last time we hear from him was 30 years ago. He left one day and did not come back. I am happy to hear he had friends while he lived there. He came from Oswego, NY. He was in the army during the Vietnam War. I know I will be remembering him during the time of your memorial service for him.

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johnmatteson 4 years, 9 months ago

Hi,my name is John Matteson.My uncle Bob is the person you all knew as Cowboy Bob.I want to thank all of you who looked out for him.Thanks for the kindest and friendship you showed him.It's clear that your City must be a very special place to live!For him to live there that long he must of felt welcomed and safe.I want you to know that his family tried to find him,but Unlce Bob didn't want to be found,I'm just thankful that you found him!Again from the bottom of my heart thanks for showing a lonely stranger a warm smile and open hearts,that's a rare thing these day's,he must of found his peace in your town.Thank You

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oldskoolstmbt 4 years, 9 months ago

john/jules...i got to know bob pretty well over the period of about 4 yrs....we worked together 5 days a week...and he was a gentle soul..he had his way of doing things, but it was the right way...i;m sorry your family tried to find him with fruitless searches...he did find his own way here, and will be missed..sorry for your loss

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rrogers82 4 years, 9 months ago

I knew Bob, but never knew where he came from or even his full name, so it's nice to remember that he had family and a life before Oak Creek.

My brother and I used to pick him up on the corner on Main Street every Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas and take him out to our parents' house for dinner. He always refused to take more food for later every time my mom would offer. He absolutely loved the green bean caserole! During one holiday, my dad leaned over and gave Bob the brand new cowboy hat that my dad had just bought for my mom. Let's say she was a little upset but that passed everytime she saw it on his head walking down the street. Then we would drop him off right where we picked him up until next time.

I remember another time we were having a BBQ in our backyard and my four year old son starting yelling at Bob down the alley saying "hey Bob, come on up were having a BBQ"! Everytime my son saw him he would say "whats up Bob"? and Bob would say "hey there little buddy, your gonna be handful for those teachers once school starts".

He will be missed and my condolences go out to his family and everyone else that knew "Cowboy Bob". We'll miss him during our next holiday dinner too. See everyone at the Memorial!

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rrogers82 4 years, 9 months ago

To Bob's familly, if you have any questions or if you want to chat about Bob, give us a call or e-mail us. We'll be happy to talk and we would like to hear more about Bob and his life. Let me know and I'll provide my e-mail address/phone number.

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julesed306 4 years, 9 months ago

I really would like to thank everyone for their comments about my Uncle Bob. It makes it easier knowing that he was taken care of and loved. If you have any information you would like to pass on to the family you can email. His son would really like to know more about his father. He hopes to visit Oak Creek this fall.

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oldskoolstmbt 4 years, 9 months ago

very nicely put windle...

i'm having a hard time pasting a link for bob.....go to you-tube and type in 'useless desires' by patty griffin and click on the video for 4/22/06.........this one is for you cowboy...

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Lou Ann Matteson-Daniels 4 years, 9 months ago

Thank You to a community that gave of themselves to a wanderer, my Uncle Bob. I am very touched by the story and how you took him in and cared for him. I Last saw him soom thirty years ago,his parting was not on the best of terms as his mother had recently died and it took its toll on him, the gentle soul. Family tryed to reunite with him but it was just never to be. It does my heart good as well as my family to know that he had a family out there, even if it was not to be us. Again Thank You so much for being there for him. May God Bless you all, Lou Ann Matteson-Daniels Oswego, N.Y.

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raven 4 years, 9 months ago

My name is Arlene, Cowboy Bob is my uncle whom I called uncle Bobby, as he called me "Peanut". I have lived in Colorado for a year and it saddens me that I was not aware he lived a few hours away. I have many wonderful memories of my uncle who made me laugh, we always had a warm hug for each other. I was told of the Memorial service late last evening and I am unable to attend due to work. I am grateful he found such warm, loving friends in Colorado as I have who live as I do to appreciate the person, not what they own or their status in society. May all of you be blessed for your kindness, love, support you have shown and for the Memorial service you are having this evening for him. I will hold my own personal service for him on a mountain here that I hike quite often at a beautiful site I believe he would love also. I intend to visit your area in the near future to bring a memorial bench for him that others may sit at and hopefully enjoy a moment of tranquility. Perhaps I will meet those who touched his life as I embrace the path my uncle Bobby walked there and the peace he found. May we not mourn, instead embrace a life lived! Blessings, Arlene (peanut)

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flotilla 4 years, 9 months ago

Cowboy Bob's Family, you should consider coming up during Labor Day. It is a wonderful time to visit and Oak Creek hosts a parade, horseshoe tourny, cribbage tourny, festival in the park, etc. If you want any details of where to stay, camp, etc. just ask.

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raven 4 years, 9 months ago

flotilla, thank you for that suggestion, I would like some information for that weekend. I live in Colorado Springs, my email is msshanti7@yahoo.com, please let me know your e-mil address on here or I won't open, thanks. Blessings, Arlene

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Don Carter 4 years, 9 months ago

What a touching story. I just happened to be web surfing with my new laptop and this story caught my eye. I lived in Steamboat during the 80's and part of my heart is still there. Cowboy Bob must have loved living there with you caring folks and the beautiful countryside around him. In a way, he wasn't really homeless. God rest his soul and thanks to all who showed him kindness during his time there. That's a great photograph of him and you can see a lot of stories written on his face. I'm sure his spirit will be around there for some time.

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oldskoolstmbt 4 years, 9 months ago

bob's favorite breakfast i would cook for him during our shift together: scrambled eggs (with salt & pepper), bacon, one piece of cinnamon roll french toast w/ extra butter...and of course coffee..all day long....:)...oh! his favorite bread was brioche!

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johnmatteson 4 years, 9 months ago

Thank you all for your words of kindness,truly you all are very caring and loving people.I'm sure that Uncle Bob knew he found a special place.I would be honored to chat with you all and maybe figure out a way to get out there and meet you all.Until that day comes here's my e-mail address. lmatteson@twcny.rr.com i consider you all friends I just haven't met yet thank you.John

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Dave Ege 4 years, 9 months ago

For the family of Bob, in order to contact anyone on this forum, just click on their name. This will bring up a way to e-mail them. My wife & I just returned from Bob's "memorial" at the Elks Tavern. You will be happy to know that the place was packed! God bless you all. It's nice to know that Bob has a place to go to be with his family.

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Brian Kotowski 4 years, 8 months ago

I've recently returned from an 18-month TDY in Vegas (Las Vegas: Latin for Sprawling Urban Cesspool).

That the passing of a homeless man is front page news speaks more powerfully than I ever could to why I am so grateful to be back.

RIP, Bob, and condolences to your family.

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raven 4 years, 8 months ago

Thank you again for all the wonderful comments about our uncle Bobby. I love the recent picture of him as the young man I remember, with that wonderful smile. I will be visiting this fall to bring a memorial bench and to possibly meet you. I believe one of my favorite quotes is appropiate:

Not All Who Wander Are Lost

Blessings, Arlene

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Joyce Everett 4 years, 8 months ago

Thank you all for your love and caring for my Uncle Bobby. He was a loving and caring person who lost himself for a while but your unconditional love seems to have helped him find his true spirit again.

Joyce Everett Matteson

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