It’s all about good conversation
RIFLE, Colo. His demeanor is positive, with a smile and an open hand waiting for acknowledgment. His greeting is as warm as his green flannel shirt appears to be.One thing you can bet on when you meet Pete Mattivi, you’re going to make a new friend.”My dad used to say, ‘Always meet friends, not enemies’,” Mattivi said. “That’s been my motto ever since.”Conversation, said the 101-year-old Mattivi, is where you make friends.”The first time you meet someone, you may not agree with them,” he explained. “They may be wrong, but then again, I’ve always said, that I may be wrong, too.”And that’s how the conversation began beside the fireplace in the sitting area of The Crossroads Assisted Living Center in Rifle. Pete’s called Crossroads home for the past year.
“It’s been a nice change,” he said. “You can always find a good conversation here.”Prior to living at Crossroads, Mattivi was born in Crystal in 1905. He’s lived in Marble, Salida, Canyon Creek, Glenwood Springs and even for a brief period in Chicago, Ill, before moving to New Castle in 1929. And that’s where he stayed.One of his two daughters, Pam Bunn, still lives in New Castle and owns the New Castle Cafe. Pat, Mattivi’s other daughter, lives in Denver.His wife of 69 years, Opal, passed away in August 2006 but he continued to live in their home until last year when he and his daughters thought that Crossroads would be a good place for him to live.”It’s a pretty nice place to live,” he said. “It’s comfortable. It’s just like a nice home away from home.”Mattivi is sort of Garfield County’s grandfather with all the stories and all that he’s contributed over the years. The way he speaks about Garfield County is with sincere personal investment. It’s been his home for the majority of his 101 years.He and his brother opened an auto service station in New Castle in 1929, and he continued to run another service station with his wife until 1982. But along with his business he was also the New Castle mayor for 26 years, a Garfield County Commissioner for 20 years, and served on the Garfield County School District Re-2 board for 10 years, all between the years of 1954 and 1981.
During that time, and since, he’s seen a lot of changes.”One of my old friends used to say that New Castle would never be anything because it was too far away from Rifle,” he said. “It used to be mostly farmers, but look at it now. There’s not a lot of new businesses but the population has gone up.”Most of his friends have passed away he said. But his good friend, Elmer “Rink” Richel, remains in New Castle.Mattivi said he no longer has any enemies because he’s outlived them all. But, in talking with him, it didn’t seem like Mattivi is the type to make enemies.”I’ve just always enjoyed talking to people,” he said. “Even all those years as a commissioner people would always ask me how I could stand all the gripes, but they weren’t gripes to me. It was just the start of a good conversation.”Mattivi said he used to go shopping with his wife and daughters just to go along for the conversation. They’d do the shopping and he’d just go along for the conversation, he said.As the end of this conversation drew near, Mattivi said that his secret to longevity is honesty.
“Be an honest man,” he said, “Meet the world as it is and accept it for that.”Words to live by, from a man who knows what it’s all about.Contact John Gardner: 945-8515, ext. email@example.comPost Independent, Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO
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