Friends, family mourn passing of Hot Sulphur Springs Mayor Bob McVay
McVay’s many admirers recall a man with tireless energy and a bottomless desire to help his community.
Grand County lost a gentle giant and impassioned community advocate with the passing of Hot Sulphur Springs Mayor Robert McVay, who died of a heart attack in Aurora on April 14.
McVay served two terms on the Hot Sulphur Springs Board of Trustees and two as the town’s mayor.
He was born at Porter’s Hospital in Denver on June 23, 1948, and grew up in Englewood, attending schools there and in Denver. He attended Arapahoe Junior College in Littleton from 1967 to 1968 and then enlisted in the U.S. Navy, where he studied electronics and communications and served on fast attack submarines including the USS Billfish and the USS Lapon.
Upon leaving the Navy, he attended the University of Maine to study psychology and fine arts. He first lived on Bailey Island, where his younger sister Debby says he painted some of his most beautiful works of art. He later discovered a passion for cooking and ran several fine dining establishments.
In 1988, he became sober, and upon moving to Key West, Florida, met and married James Eli.
For the next several years, he would work as head chef in several of Florida’s finest restaurants, participate in AA, the gay rights movement, and the Metro Community Church, and was “always first in line to volunteer for fundraisers and assist with projects of any kind,” said Debby.
In 2010, McVay relocated to Hot Sulphur Springs alone, and continued feeding his passion for community involvement. When the outgoing Mayor, Hershel Deputy, asked if he would be interested in taking his position, McVay jumped in and got to work improving the community.
He was very proud of the new playground in the park, the work done on the water plant, and saving the libraries, say family members. He loved reading to the children at the libraries, being Santa at Christmas, and the Annual Easter Egg Hunt.
Town board members add that as mayor, he was often found at Town Hall working as an unofficial greeter, answering questions from locals and tourists alike. He was not afraid to jump in and help public works with any water plant issues, assist in snowplowing on busy days and answer phones if office staff needed an extra hand.
He enjoyed being an active member of Colorado Municipal League and encouraged Town Board of Trustees members to continue with their education. He was active with East Troublesome Fire victim’s assistance, COVID-19 testing sites and information, drought management and prevention meetings. He regularly attended the Colorado River user’s co-op meetings and he was the Town of Hot Sulphur Springs’ Planning Commission chairman.
But during elections, friends say, is when McVay really shined. He was usually found in the Grand County Building working each election cycle for the Grand County Clerk. He was an active member of Grand County Democrats and enjoyed attending the state rallies as a delegate. Through these meetings he met and sustained friendships that extended all the way up to the governor’s office.
In a letter to the Sky-Hi News, the Grand County Democrats called McVay “a steadfast volunteer in the county for decades, serving as an election judge for every election, a delegate for many cycles and the first person to mount a Board of County Commissioners run after a long stretch without Democratic candidates.”
Others add that he would participate in rallies, debates, handing out pamphlets and other political activities. It was very important to him, that regardless of who you voted for, you voted. He would drive people to the polls, count ballots, drive or ride with someone through bad weather on treacherous roads to collect ballot boxes — whatever it took to get everyone’s vote counted.
Throughout his life, McVay participated in teen counseling, buddy programs and drug awareness programs. He believed that children and youth are our most valuable assets; so much so, that he took in his nephew, Dan, at age 13, made sure he graduated from high school with medals in swimming and golf, and helped him become the man he is today.
“Bob will probably be missed most, except by his competitors, for his award-winning cranberry pecan pie, coconut macaroons and peanut butter cookies,” wrote family members in a eulogy to be read at his celebration of life on June 18 at 11 a.m. at Pioneer Park in Hot Sulphur.
“Those of you who truly knew Bob, knew that he was a deeply spiritual person and that he not only believed in, but lived by the saying: ‘It doesn’t matter who you love, or how you love, but that you love,” wrote Debby.
He was preceded in death by his Father, Robert E. McVay, Mother, Alice M. McVay, and nephew, Chris Mains. He is survived by sisters Alice aka Kathy (Stephen) Mains and Debby McVay; nieces Laura (Curtis) Barb and Rachel Mains; nephew Danial aka Dan (Kari) Ore; three great nieces and one and three quarter great-great grandnephews.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be sent to Alcoholics Anonymous, LGBTQ organizations, Abused and Exploited Children, and at-risk youth.
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