Mat Matson and his equally smart and savvy wife of 25 years, Audrey Matson, residents of Conifer, are equally well known and admired in Evergreen and much of Denver. Mat has been a part of this mountain community landscape for many years.
I first met Mat about 11 years ago when he was appointed my mentor as I navigated the requirements for membership in Conifer, Rotary. Truthfully, I had made the appointment with him with the idea that this meeting was kind of a hoop to jump through. Not so when Mat Matson is assigned to be your mentor! Mat quickly made it clear that he took his role seriously and wanted to be sure I would be knowledgeable and committed as a prospective member. He talked with me in an informative and engaging manner for close to two hours about the history, structure and the mission of the club he so deeply loves.
As I learned much more about Mat over the next 11 years, I remained genuinely impressed with how he embodies the positive values of Rotary in his everyday life. Mat is one of the most well-loved and respected individuals in this community. He is gentlemanly and thoughtful but is fierce about doing the right thing for the community and is always willing to confront inequities or take on the difficult-but-necessary challenges of living life with integrity and high principles.
Mat Matson has been synonymous with Rotary in the mountain community as long as he has lived here. Mat and Audrey were previously both living in the Denver metropolitan area and were involved in Rotary in the city, but were making their move to mountain living about the same time that some state Rotary officials were floating the idea of a new club in Conifer. Mat was intricately involved in the process of chartering the new Conifer club which has been extremely successful ever since it was started about 13 years ago. Much of that success is directly attributable to Mat’s initial leadership as president of the organization and the subsequent wisdom he has imparted over the years to scores of people in official roles in the club.
Mat went on to be the Governor of Rotary District 5450, which encompasses much of Colorado and some of Wyoming. Subsequent to that role, he has worked in a variety of positions beyond the club level with Rotary. He was involved with the Rotary Youth Leadership Program (RYLA) for many years and also served as the head of the International RYLA Program, which provides a summer leadership program bringing outstanding young men and woman together from all over the world.
Mat is probably best known for his recently completed challenge of walking the Continental Divide Trail in order to bring awareness and financial support to this beautiful area of our country. Anyone who walks the whole 3,100-mile trail has to be worthy of significant admiration, BUT Mat did it while he was over 70 years of age! From 2008 until 2012 he spent several months each summer systematically walking the trail from the most southern part at the Mexican border all the way up to the Canadian border. He often had Rotarians from local organizations walking part of the way with him and holding rallies and parties for him as he took his break. This activity also brought greater closeness between the Evergreen and Rotary Clubs as there were volunteers from each organization that both camped and hiked with Matt on various legs of the trip.
Mat is fortunate in that he has had Audrey as a supportive partner through many of his endeavors in Rotary, and she has also been president and secretary of the Conifer Rotary. In addition to Rotary activities, their other favorite pastime is enjoying the 15 grandchildren they love so dearly. The mountain community is really lucky to have such engaged, generous people in our midst.