August 29, 1981 – February 5, 2023
Matthew “Matt” Strauser, 41, passed away on February 5, 2023, near Cameron Pass in the Rocky Mountains west of Fort Collins, Colo.
Matt was born in Denver, Colo. on August 29, 1981 to Garry and Patricia (Moore) Strauser, joining brother, Timothy (21 months)—as well as loving half-siblings, Amy (8) and Michael (5).
The family of four moved to Hot Springs, S.D. in 1987, and Matt graduated Hot Springs High School in 2000.
As a youngster, Matt had quick reflexes and loved adventure. He even constructed a live animal trap with his dad, which led to the unexpected—and memorable—capture of a skunk! Matt swam well and played baseball, basketball, and football through middle school—but he particularly loved soccer, skateboarding, and snowboarding. He loved reading and learning as much as he could about animals—all kinds of living creatures. Matt had a favorite parakeet and raised lots of zebra finches, but his dogs were very special to him throughout his life.
During summer break of middle school, Matt met Brandi Ruggieri, his ”new best friend,” as she worked on the tech crew of the 50th Miss South Dakota Pageant. He was right! They became best friends for life—soul mates, and then husband and wife. And what a joyous May 23, 2009 it was, when family and special friends traveled to Las Vegas to help them celebrate their wedding, with Red Rock Canyon—where they had rock climbed together—as the stunning backdrop.
After graduating from Montana State University with a B.S. in Biology, Ecology and Evolution in 2005, Matt worked as a wildlife biologist and environmental scientist, with over 15 years of research, field work, data analysis, and technical report preparation experience. Well-versed on the ecology of Rocky Mountain and Great Plains ecosystems, he was often sought after for guidance on habitat management planning and execution in these areas. His experience included a wide variety of environments and taxa, from Mississippi to Montana, from pikas to pumas—but he especially loved working with snowshoe hares and Canada lynx in the high country. Matt always found excitement and adventure in the great outdoors, and he was fortunate to be able to turn his passion for wildlife into an impressive career, most recently as an environmental scientist at Smith Environmental Consulting. He was smart, practical, and a fair-minded team leader.
Outside of work, Matt loved camping, snowboarding, rock climbing, hiking, birding, photographing wildlife, fishing, and supporting Colorado Avalanche Hockey. Besides his technical literature, Matt enjoyed reading Steinbeck and other classic American novels.
On November 13, 2011, beautiful Madilyn Jade was born, and little Alden Jay joined the family on September 26, 2015. Matt loved being a dad and cheered on Madi in gymnastics and Alden in hockey, and guided them on the ski slopes, challenged them in the Beyblade stadium, encouraged them in soccer and at the rock-climbing wall, and took them on searches for those elusive Pokemon. He attended their school activities, read to them, and encouraged them in their schoolwork. While he took time to pursue his own hobbies, he had a generous spirit and was there to celebrate accomplishments and share in the special occasions of those he loved. A loving husband and son, Matt loved his sister and brothers and extended family and also thought the world of his many friends—some of whom were also truly lifelong “family.”
Although Matt had a great sense of humor, he was unapologetically frank, and always true to his own thoughts and opinions—which often could be translated as “brutally honest.” Matt was easy going, but he also liked things done right. He was a great cook and took delight in preparing delicious and beautiful meals—particularly at Christmastime and other special occasions.
Matt is survived by his wife, Brandi Strauser, Fort Collins, Colo.; daughter, Madilyn Strauser, Fort Collins, Colo.; son, Alden Strauser, Fort Collins, Colo.; parents, Garry and Patricia Strauser, Hot Springs; father-in-law, Bill Ruggieri, Hot Springs; mother-in-law, Jodi Ruggieri, Hot Springs; sister, Amy VanDevender, Cottonwood, Ariz.; brothers, Michael (Gary) Strauser, Scottsdale, Ariz., and Timothy (Tawnya) Strauser, Gothenburg, Neb.; as well as many special uncles, aunts, cousins, nephews, nieces, friends, colleagues, and neighbors.
He is predeceased by his grandparents, David and Iona Strauser, and Lloyd and Margaret Moore; his aunt, Bonnie Moore; and his cousin, Kelli Stiles.
Many thanks go to Eric Newkirk and the Good Samaritan hikers and members of Larimer County Search and Rescue, who faithfully attended Matt on Cameron Pass.
Arrangements were placed in the care of Bohlender Funeral Chapel, 121 W. Olive Street, Fort Collins, Colo. Private visitation at the funeral chapel was followed by interment at Grandview Cemetery in Fort Collins on Saturday, February 11, 2023, with Tim Strauser officiating; and a celebration of life was held at the Bohlender Funeral Chapel, Sunday, February 12, 2023 at 1:00 p.m., with Chaplain Peter Strening officiating and Josh Hodorff sharing a special tribute. The video photo album and webcast of the celebration of life are available on the Bohlender Funeral Chapel website.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to any of the following:
• The Access Fund (https://www.accessfund.org/)
• The Nature Conservancy (https://www.nature.org/en-us/)
• The Humane Society of Larimer County (https://www.larimerhumane.org/)
• Plant a Tree in Matt’s Honor (https://shop.alivingtribute.org/products/colorado-memorial-trees)