Bob Chaffin, a `really wonderful guy,’ dies of cancer at 63
Glenwood Springs attorney, sports fan and tireless volunteer Bob Chaffin, 63, died early Thursday at his home, from cancer.
Affable, apple-cheeked and much admired, Chaffin was known for his fair treatment and respect for his clients and legal opponents alike. He was voted the Locals’ Choice for best honest attorney, a winner or runner-up, every year from 1999 through 2002.
“He would represent his clients in a manner that got the job done without offending the other side,” said attorney Larry Mincer, who shared an office at 811 Colorado Avenue with Chaffin.
“He genuinely liked and cared about people,” said Garfield County Judge Vic Zerbi, a close friend. “You could not walk away from a conversation with Bob without feeling better about the world and how people should be treating each other.”
Zerbi said every attorney in town enjoyed working with Chaffin, who largely handled corporate and real estate law.
“He was not a courtroom lawyer. He kept people out of the courtroom,” Zerbi said.
While Chaffin enjoyed a reputation as a nonconfrontational lawyer, he is best known for his community service and enthusiasm. (A complete obituary appears on Obituaries section.)
Chaffin was a founding member of Defiance Community Players, and his fellow members recalled his Teddy Roosevelt impersonations for the annual “RUTS” historical spoof plays.
“He was an almost perfect Teddy Roosevelt,” said Glenwood Springs Mayor Don Vanderhoof. “He could have fooled Teddy’s family.”
“Bob was the quintessential Teddy Roosevelt,” said Cris Aronson, former Defiance director. “If Teddy Roosevelt had been around, he would have been envious.”
Chaffin acted on stage in many productions, but always refused singing parts until “Annie.”
“He didn’t realize he would have to sing for that part,” Mincer said. “But he had to start us off on one song, and he never missed a note.”
“He was willing to do just about anything,” Vanderhoof said.
Chaffin was active backstage with the hard work of painting sets, moving sets and managing the house, and building the Defiance organization by managing the scholarship and serving on the board.
He and his wife, Joan, took vacations to New York City to check out new plays that would work for the Defiance Players in Glenwood Springs.
Chaffin was an active member of the Glenwood Springs Lions Club, served on the boards for the Advocate Safehouse Project, Frontier Historical Society, Colorado West Mental Health and Mountain Valley Weavers, helped launch a volleyball league for teenagers, and served as a team manager whenever Drums Along the Rockies came to town.
“For me, Bob is the gold standard in what public service is about,” Zerbi said. “He’s the guy who sat in the background and got the job done for a lot of community organizations.”
When it came to sports, Chaffin was an overgrown kid who still had his collection of baseball cards. With his son, David, Chaffin was a member of a fantasy football league, calling their team the Thugs.
No one expected Chaffin to show up this August for the draft pick, but Steve Randol brought him up to the clubhouse on The Hill, Vanderhoof said.
“`You’re not selling my team!’ he told us,” Vanderhoof said. Chaffin made it clear that David would retain ownership of the mighty Thugs.
The club’s traveling trophy will be named in Chaffin’s honor, Vanderhoof said.
Although he was weakened by cancer, Chaffin managed to live it up in his last few days of life.
Last week, Bob Fuller, Greg Little, Terry Ewbank and Gary Hansen borrowed Jim and Mary Nelson’s motorhome and made one last road trip to Las Vegas with Chaffin.
“He loved to go to Las Vegas,” Vanderhoof said.
And on Wednesday evening, many of the old Defiance group, including Aronson, Ewbank and Mincer, gathered at Bob and Joan Chaffin’s home.
“We opened a bottle of wine, and we all stood around Bob and toasted him,” Aronson said. “It was a celebration of a really wonderful guy.”
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