1942 - 2020
A third-generation Coloradan who remembers driving to Evergreen in the early 1950s with his parents to skate and fish Evergreen Lake. He and his wife, Melinda, moved to Evergreen from the metro Denver area in 1971 when the population of Evergreen was just 2,500.
Starting with the subdivision where he lived, he was one of the founders of the Sugar Hills/El Pinal Homeowners Association where, among other things, he designed and built mailboxes and street signs to bring mail service into the El Pinal subdivision in the early 1970s.
Gary was one of the founders of the Evergreen Central Metropolitan District where he served as president for 24 years (1977-2001), facilitating its consolidation with the Evergreen Metropolitan District in 2002.
Professionally, Gary was Marketing/Customer Service Manager for Public Service Company of Colorado (later named Excel Energy) at the regional office in Evergreen for 14 years. Prior to that he developed a comprehensive marketing plan for Public Service Company's western region, followed by an integrated management control program for the Denver metro region. He served as the project manager for the extension of high-pressure natural gas services up the 285 Corridor in the early 1990s, opening up the corridor for future development.
Public Service Company was known as the leader in the community in the early days when its Senior Vice President, Jack Rouse, was commonly referred to as the Mayor of Evergreen because of the role he played during the town's transition from a summer community to an upscale, year-round community with the appropriate services and infrastructure. With Rouse as a role model, Gary took seriously his commitment to community and demonstrated a real love for Evergreen his entire life.
Gary served on the board of directors of more than 24 civic/community/government/professional organizations, credited with being president or chairman of 13. Among those, the Evergreen Area Chamber of Commerce, Evergreen Rotary, and Leadership Evergreen stood out in his memories and list of accomplishments.
He was chairman of the Evergreen Area Chamber of Commerce in 1989-90 as well as the Jefferson County Coalition of Chambers. During his term he designed and produced, in partnership with the Canyon Courier, the first colored, bound chamber membership directory. After working as the Director of investor Relations for the Jefferson Economic Council, Gary returned to the Evergreen Chamber in a leadership role, serving as President of the Chamber in 2004-05, lending his visionary skills to a community that had begun to see a downturn in its economic vitality.
He served as president of the Evergreen Rotary Club and the Evergreen Rotary Foundation, which was founded under his leadership in 1993-94. During that time, the club received the top five awards in the district comprised of 27 Rotary clubs, including the Paul Harris Award of Excellence.
As president and founder of the Evergreen Rotary Foundation, he set in motion an ambitious goal to increase the foundation's assets from $1,500 to $100,000 in 10 years; that goal was exceeded in a period of 3 years. Funds were utilized to expand programs and services to meet community needs throughout the mountain area from which its members came.
When Leadership Evergreen started, Gary was not only a member of the initial Steering Committee but also a member of the first graduating class in 1996. He was the project leader for "Community Cornerstones," the class project responsible for placing three hand-carved gateway signs at the entrances to Evergreen. Gary continued to be active with Leadership Evergreen for a number of years, serving on the Executive Committee and as the Chairman from 1998-2000.
Gary was truly a visionary, someone who could conceptualize projects with the potential to achieve great things. He recognized the importance of knowing the roots of an organization or community before one could understand where it was headed. Whenever he served on a board, he stressed the importance of a good Mission Statement and Vision Statement, regularly putting boards through the rigors of examining the effectiveness of what had been previously adopted or writing those statements from scratch.
Among the honors bestowed upon him: he was named one of "Ten Best Things in Evergreen" in 1995; "Member of the Year" by the National Management Association of Business Executives, Rocky Mountain Chapter, in 1996; "Business Leader of the Year" in 1996 when he won the Sam Walton Business Leader Award, a national recognition; Evergreen Rotarian of the Year in 1998; National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution Community Service Excellence Award in 1999, a national award; and "honorary Rotarian" in 2001; and the "Lifetime Achievement Award" from Rotary in 2005.
For more than 40 years, Gary was driven by his passion for the greater mountain-area community, striving to learn everything he could about the area and to be a leader, making Evergreen a better place.
Source: Gary Matson