Theos remembered as popular ‘rascal’

Nick Theos, a Meeker rancher, state legislator and, to some, an unlikely peacemaker, died April 11 at age 92.

“He was a scalawag, a rascal, a sonofagun,” said Kathleen Sullivan Kelley, who described her relationship with Theos as that of a “bitter political opponent” and a “good friend.”

Theos took Kelley and her husband, Reed, to Republican Lincoln Day dinners and they reciprocated by taking him to Jackson-Jefferson Day dinners, where Theos was once serenaded with “Happy Birthday,” Sullivan Kelley said.

Though a committed partisan, Theos was a throwback in that he understood the idea of the loyal opposition, she said.

“If there was one person who could get past (political vitriol), it was Nick,” she said.

Theos was “a character,” said his old political ally, former U.S. Rep. Scott McInnis, R-Colo. “Most characters can be a little abrasive at first, but when you got to know Nick, what a guy.”

So much so that when McInnis saw Theos hauling sheep in his new Cadillac, McInnis asked why, especially when he knew Theos had a pickup far more suited to the task.

“Well,” Theos told McInnis, with a gesture to the sheep, “They paid for it.”

Theos wasn’t one to shy away from rough language, McInnis said, but he seemed to have a knack for doing it acceptably.

There was a time when he responded to a woman’s suggestion that coyotes be castrated to reduce their depredations on sheep.

“Lady, these coyotes aren’t (having sex with) our sheep, they’re eating them,” he said.

Or words to that effect.

The moment took place during a congressional field hearing in Montana, said Greg Walcher, who met Theos while a staffer in Congress and Theos was a representative of the Woolgrowers Association.

Walcher later worked with Theos at Club 20, when Theos was on the board and Walcher the director.

“It’s part of the Nick Theos legend,” Walcher said. “He was a man of strong opinions and strong will, but always with good humor. He was enormously popular among people who agreed with him and enormously popular among those who didn’t.”

In 2004, Theos and Eric Johnson of Pitkin County shared the Club 20 Bridgebuilder Award.

., one that is still given in their names today.

“A piece of work,” said Bill Cleary, a former president of Club 20. “I really enjoyed knowing him.”

Theos is survived by two daughters, Connie Theos and Renae Neilsen; one sister, Helen Theos; three grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Walbridge Wing skilled nursing facility, 345 Cleveland St., Meeker 81541; or to the Public Land Council in care of Grand Mortuary, 621 Yampa Ave., Craig 81625.


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