Glenwood mourns loss of ‘charitable soul,’ Bill Slattery
Glenwood Springs and the greater Roaring Fork Valley were collectively saddened this week to hear of the death of Bill Slattery, cabinet maker for the stars and a humanitarian in his own community and around the world.
Slattery, the founder and longtime owner of Modern Cabinet Shop south of town, died Tuesday after a brief illness. He was 77.
A member of the Glenwood Springs Kiwanis Club, the Elks Lodge, the Knights of Columbus and formerly the Jaycees, Slattery could always be found volunteering his time and talents to help with numerous community causes.
He was named the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association’s Citizen of the Year for 2007, honoring his many contributions to causes such as building the story board in West Glenwood’s Gregory Park, and taking lead to hand-make part of the torch for the 2002 Olympic Winter Games torch run that came through the area en route to Salt Lake City.
Through Kiwanis, he helped build trails, horse stalls and cabinets at the Aspen Camp School for the Deaf, and he was a big supporter of St. Stephen’s School and Valley View Hospital.
“The humanitarian side of him was so much bigger than a lot of people realized,” one of his three daughters, Susan Artaz, said.
Added his wife of 54 years, Judy Slattery, “Bill had a charitable soul. Just his kind-heartedness, and his love of people and the community.”
The Slatterys arrived in Glenwood Springs in 1962 shortly after they were married in Wisconsin. Judy drove the 1961 Chevy Impala that Bill kept in prime condition and still drove on occasion in the Strawberry Days Parade.
Slattery also hand-crafted the large peg board that the Kiwanis Club uses to sell balls for its annual ball drop fundraiser at Strawberry Days.
He opened Modern Cabinet in the mid-1960s after first going to work for Jack Wood and Mel Zwickle of Wood Zwickle Construction.
Slattery gained a reputation as one of the best carpenters in the valley, doing work for some of the many celebrities who have frequented Aspen over the years, including John Denver, Lucille Ball, Estee Lauder, Ralph Lauren, Susan St. James, Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell.
“The Lauder family would still send him a Christmas card and present every year,” said daughter Robin Slattery-McComas, who now owns and operates Modern Cabinet and Modern Kitchen Center with her husband, Chris McComas.
“To this day, I’ll go up to job sites and they say, ‘Bill built this, or Bill built that,’” she said.
Slattery was also well-known for his sheep-hunting expeditions across North America and around the world. Starting in 1986, he eventually bagged all four varieties of sheep on this continent for the “North American Slam,” and went on to accomplish the “World Super Slam” as well.
During his sheep hunts, which took him to 20 different countries around the world, he would always take time for humanitarian efforts, Slattery-McComas said, including providing iodized salt to help with a goiter outbreak.
“Every single hunt, he did something for the people there,” Artaz said.
Added daughter Cindy Warkentin, “He touched so many people’s lives around the world.”
Slattery was also one of the first ski patrollers on Glenwood’s old Red Mountain ski area, and taught his wife Judy to ski there as well. He was an avid skier all his life, even getting out to ski this past February upon returning from a trip to Hawaii.
He was also a U.S. Army veteran. A full obituary appears in today’s paper (see page A5) and online. A rosary will be said at 1 p.m. Monday followed by mass at 1:30 p.m. at St. Stephen’s Catholic Church.