Lifelong public servant for Garfield County dies in his sleep at age 103

Pete Mattivi Portrait

Pete Mattivi once balanced serving simultaneously as a Garfield County commissioner, New Castle’s mayor and a business owner.

Only old age could wear him out, and even that took until he was more than a century old.
Mattivi died Saturday at Crossroads Assisted Living Center in Rifle.

“He just went to sleep. He was 103, he was tired, he had lived his life,” said his daughter, Pam Bunn.

That life included serving as county commissioner from 1957-77 and as mayor from 1954-69 and 1974-81. He and his wife, Opal, also operated Mattivi Motor Co. in New Castle, selling Studebakers and gasoline and doing repairs. They retired in 1982 after 53 years in business, and Opal died in 2000.

Mattivi also found time to serve 10 years on the Re-2 School Board and was on the original board of Valley View Hospital when the hospital first was being built in Glenwood Springs. He was a founding member of the New Castle Community Center and helped found the original New Castle Lions Club and secure funding for the county library headquarters in New Castle.

Somehow, he and Opal also managed to raise two daughters and care for a sizable garden. Mattivi loved to grow roses, and his prized rosebushes still flourish around his old house, where Bunn now lives.

Today, Bunn serves on New Castle’s Town Council, and before running for office she asked for her father’s political advice. He urged her never to make promises she couldn’t keep.

“He lived by that, and I think it worked really well for him, and so far it’s worked really well for me,” she said.

Other political novices sought out Mattivi for his wisdom and support, including a young man running for a Colorado House of Representatives seat in 1982. Glenwood Springs native Scott McInnis ended up serving several terms in the state House and several more as a member of Congress.

McInnis remembers Mattivi from his boyhood days when his mother would take him to the library and reward him with a soda at Mattivi’s gas station if McInnis was well-behaved.

“Everybody loved him. He was just the fiber of the community,” McInnis said.

A viewing is planned from 6 to 8 p.m. today at Farnum-Holt Funeral Home in Glenwood Springs. Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. Thursday at Coal Ridge High School with a reception following at Burning Mountain Park in New Castle.


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