Garfield County community celebrates life of Samuel Elliott III

Samuel Elliott III.
Submitted / Jen Quevedo

There’s no estimating just how many people were affected by the guidance of Samuel Elliott III, who died on March 24. He was 76.

But on Saturday afternoon, it took more than 300 people packing a Glenwood Springs gymnasium to celebrate his life.

Among all the walks of life staring attentively and cheering wildly at all his photos was his daughter, Jen Quevedo.

“He really left a legacy of love,” Quevedo said. “He shared his life and shared his sobriety and shared his wisdom with everybody.”

Elliott III was a longtime drug and alcohol counselor in Garfield County. Every day for about the past 39 years, he attended brown bag recovery meetings, where he used his past struggles to inspire others to find sobriety.

Elliott III was born Dec. 29, 1945, in Philadelphia. At 18, he joined the U.S. Navy and went on to serve two tours in Vietnam.

After marrying his wife, Donna Elliott, the veteran became an over-the-road truck driver.

“During that time, he was drinking and drugging and doing his thing,” Quevedo said.

But right around 1979 was when Elliott changed his ways and became sober for the next 43 years. By April 1982, the Elliotts decided to flip a coin onto a map, and it landed on Colorado.

Soon, they moved to Glenwood Springs.

During Saturday’s ceremony, Jake Snyder, 32, stood quietly toward a back wall. Like the hundreds of people in the room, his life was also heavily impacted by the musings of Elliott III.

Snyder said it was 15 years ago when he was pretty much homeless and addicted to drugs and alcohol. After relapsing, a friend of his took him to a place where he met Elliott III.

“He sat me down and talked with me,” Snyder said. “And, really, I realized he and I were not that much different.”

“Realizing somebody like that was around and been through what I was going through? And he had a smile on his face and could be there to help.”

Snyder is now 11 years sober and works at a Glenwood Springs auto dealership.

He looked around at the huge crowd gathered to celebrate Elliott III’s life.

“It makes sense,” he said. “I knew there was going to be a lot of people here. He just had that sort of personality.”

Elliott III’s daughter-in-law, Lizz Randall, said her father-in-law was a fierce protector of the people he loved and cared for.

“He’s super open and kind and nonjudgmental,” she said. “He accepted and welcomed everyone who wanted to eat at his table.”

Elliott III had five children, 15 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

On the day he died, he was on his way to another brown bag recovery meeting.

“He walked the talk,” Quevedo said. “Everybody that you hear speak about him and about what they learned from him, they’ll say they always remember that he would say that he loved them.”

Reporter Ray K. Erku can be reached at 612-423-5273 or

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Glenwood Springs and Garfield County make the Post Independent’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.