Bill Matt (born Matuik) was born in Saskatchewan, Canada, in a share cropper’s cabin, the first of seven children. Bill died June 11 in Rifle, Colo. Bill’s father and uncle were escaped Cossacks of the Russian Revolution. His mother was an orphan. The family had no electricity, no indoor plumbing and worked their own vegetable gardens. The children walked several miles to and from school.
The birth of the seventh child, the death of Bill’s mother, the impossible struggle against Canada’s dust bowl destruction of the farm and the suicide of his father, precipitated the total destruction of the family.
Bill, in his early teens, was taken in by a neighbor farm family — for his labor. Schooling stopped. He entered Canada’s painting and decorating apprentice program and became a licensed professional.
Bill worked on Canada’s northern Pacific fish-collecting packers during the freezing Prince Rupert winters when all painting had stopped. He then went to Vancouver, then San Francisco and to Denver where he continued in his trade. In the mid-60s Bill arrived in Aspen, again painting and decorating and skiing.
He had become, according to one local designer, the “finest painter and installer of wall coverings she had ever worked with.”
Bill patrolled at the Aspen Highlands. As an expert skier, he chose the cloudy, stormy days when the slopes were nearly empty. He loved tennis, fly-fishing and created beautiful flies. This honest, straightforward and truly nice man has left us. A group of Bill’s friends will be gathering atop Aspen Mountain soon to celebrate his life, scatter his ashes, have a cup or two and say good-bye. Time and date yet to be determined.