by Mike Rosso
It’s nearly impossible to be a stranger in a small town. Live in a city of 5,000 or less for any length of time and you get to know all sorts of folks. Some ordinary, some quite colorful.
And it’s easy to take for granted many of the more engaging folks, until one of them unexpectedly passes away. Then, suddenly, there seems to be a great big hole in the community.
Such is the case with Salida native Bob Biglow, who died Aug. 14 of a heart attack at the age of 72. The shock of his sudden departure around town was universal. Only the day before, he had waved hello to many folks, as was his custom. He even supposedly left an open tab at one of his many favorite watering holes the night before he passed.
Bob was the eponymous larger-than-life character, with his soft-spoken manner, the John Wayne-like glint in his often mischievous creased eyes, and his engaging nature.
“Well sir, let me tell you,” was a familiar refrain to anyone who posed a question from the adjoining seat at the bar. And he would tell you: tales of his days growing up hot-rodding around town; his time served in Vietnam; his many wild tales from his days as a surveyor, a job he continued to do up until the time of his death; or his vast knowledge of geology and Salida history, and rarely with any hint of judgment.
A graduate of Western State in 1964 and of Colorado School of Mines, he had a vast knowledge of the region where he had logged so many foot-miles as a surveyor. Bob met his future wife Virginia while at Western, and they were married for 48 years. I first met him about 10 years ago through his daughter Becky, a friend for at least that long, who wrote an article for the December 2012 issue of Colorado Central about his ski adventures as a child with his mom, Silvia, on Marshall Pass.
A standing-room-only memorial service was held for him on Aug. 22, followed by a boisterous celebration of his life at a downtown restaurant afterward that was missing only one element: Bob. He would have really enjoyed being part of that gathering.
That’s the thing about losing someone like him. Suddenly he’s no longer there, driving by in his familiar tan truck or riding his red bicycle, always quick with that familiar wave. We’ve gotten so accustomed to seeing him out and about downtown on any given night that his absence is profoundly conspicuous.
I guess the takeaway is that we should never take anyone for granted or assume they will always be around. Especially the more colorful members of our small, closely intertwined community.
Happy trails, sir.