County Commissioner Saed Tayyara gives a speech about the State of the County in February. The event was at the Holiday Inn.

Photo by Hans Hallgren

County Commissioner Saed Tayyara gives a speech about the State of the County in February. The event was at the Holiday Inn.

Tayyara leaves behind a legacy

Moffat County Commissioner Saed Tayyara, 67, dies Saturday in Craig



  • "I think the thing that kept him going for the last two years was serving as (county) commissioner and serving the people of Moffat County."
  • - Lisa Tayyara Coffman, 39, daughter of the late Saed Tayyara
  • "He always believed in Craig, Colo. He would do anything he could to better Craig, Colo."
  • - Tony St. John, former Craig City Council member
  • "I'd never met a man that was so American. He lived the American dream."
  • - Moffat County Commissioner, Tom Mathers

Timeline: Saed Tayyara's public service

Moffat County Commissioner Saed Tayyara remained politically and socially active in the community from the time he moved to the Yampa Valley until his death Nov. 27. Here is a brief timeline of his business and public service endeavors.

• 1941: Born in Tartus, Syria

• 1963: Emigrated to the United States

• 1972: Became an American citizen

• 1973 to 1974: Opened The Red Stone Hotel and Tartus Restaurant in Hayden

• 1975: Opened Kentucky Fried Chicken in Craig

• 1977 to 1981: Served as a Craig city councilor

• 1978: Became a member of Club 20, a Western Slope government advocacy group

• 1981 to 1983: Served first term as Craig mayor

• 1989 to 1991: Served second term as Craig mayor

• 1989: Opened Colorado Fried Chicken in Craig

• 1991 to 1993: Served third term as Craig mayor

• 2004 to 2008: Served as a Moffat County commissioner

• 2004 to 2008: Served on the Club 20 Board of Directors

• 2006 to 2008: Served on the Club 20 Executive Committee as Region 11 vice-chair

• 2006: Established the Lucile Bogue/Saed Tayyara Scholarship for Colorado Northwestern Community College

• 2008: Spearheaded the Loudy-Simpson soccer field project

• 2008: Re-elected to second term as Moffat County commissioner

Tayyara also received community awards and recognitions in his time in the Yampa Valley, including the Craig Daily Press' Man of the Year in 1993, and served on various groups' boards.

— Holding public office wasn't just Saed Tayyara's pastime or just another bullet point on his resume.

It was a hallmark of his life.

Now, Tayyara's family members and colleagues mourn the passing of the man and the public servant.

Tayyara, 67, died shortly after 8 p.m. Saturday in Craig.

Despite having been diagnosed with stage-four lung cancer in February 2007, Tayyara ran for and won a second term as Moffat County district 2 commissioner.

His daughter, Lisa Tayyara Coffman, 39, believes his passion for the position may have been what helped him exceed doctors' initial predictions that cancer would overtake him within a year.

"I think the thing that kept him going for the last two years was serving as (county) commissioner and serving the people of Moffat County," she said.

History of a public servant

Tayyara emigrated to the U.S. from Syria in 1963 and became an American citizen in 1972. He came to Craig several years later, opening a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant in Craig in 1975.

But it was as a politician, not a restaurateur, that he left his mark on Craig. During the next 30 years, Tayyara would forge a political career that spanned periods of boom and bust.

In the late 1970s, Tayyara, a Republican, was elected a Craig City Council member. His election came at a time when Craig was seeing unprecedented growth following an energy industry boom in the region.

"We spent most of our time putting out fires and keeping up with the growth," said Jerry Thompson, who served as mayor from the mid-1970s to 1981.

He remembered Tayyara as a councilman who took his responsibility seriously.

"Saed just really cared," he said. "He did his homework. He always came to meetings prepared."

As a city council member, Tayyara also spoke frequently with citizens to understand their needs and made an effort to hear both sides of controversial issues, he added.

Tayyara served three terms as mayor, beginning in 1981. Subsequent terms followed in 1989 and 1991. During his time in office, he inspired others to enter public office.

Craig resident Tony St. John was one.

Until Tayyara encouraged him to run for city council, St. John never would have considered any public office, he said.

Eventually, though, St. John ran for, and won, a seat on city council during Tayyara's last term as mayor.

"During the time that I served on City Council with Mayor Tayyara, you would not find a more dedicated individual to his community, to the city and the county," St. John said. "He always believed in Craig, Colo. He would do anything he could to better Craig, Colo."

St. John remembered Tayyara maintaining a positive outlook even after Craig's economy suffered with an energy industry slump in the 1980s.

Tayyara also inspired current Mayor Don Jones.

Several years before he ran for city council in 1995, Jones discussed his plans with Tayyara.

Jones was most inspired by Tayyara's commitment to his constituents.

"He was dedicated to the community," he said, "in all aspects."

"I would say his No. 1 : goal was to get the city and the county to work together," said Bob Sweeney, former Craig Daily Press publisher.

Following his passion

In 2004, Tayyara and fellow Republican Tom Gray were elected freshmen county commissioners.

Gray was struck by Tayyara's appreciation for the American political system.

"The one thing that always came through was how thankful he was he lived in a country where anyone could get involved in government," he said.

Tayyara stood in support of fiscally responsible government and property rights, Gray said.

The late commissioner, who played on the Syrian national soccer team as a youth, also spearheaded a project to install two additional soccer fields at Loudy-Simpson Park. Tayyara said he thought the fields would offer a positive pastime for area children.

He was didn't hesitate to support causes he believed in.

At the same time, Tayyara also was able to weigh multiple views of an issue before making a decision, said Tom Mathers, district 3 county commissioner.

Tayyara made a point of becoming involved in local groups, including Associated Governments of Northwest Colorado, and reporting their progress to the commission.

But, above all, Tayyara was dedicated to the country that had opened its arms to him.

"I'd never met a man that was so American," Mathers said. "He lived the American dream."

Final office

In November, Moffat County voters again selected Tayyara, who ran unopposed in the general election for a second term as district 2 county commissioner.

He planned to see renovations at the Moffat County Public Safety Center happen and wanted the county to continue investing in its roads.

Tayyara also intended to see new soccer fields completed. After the November election, he said completing the new fields would be his most important goal.

Although started, that dream wasn't realized. The two new soccer fields await finishing touches.

Still, the project he supported could become more than a place where youths go to practice the sport Tayyara loved as a boy.

They could become a memorial to the man who helped make them possible.

In the past, Gray said, residents have asked whether the county will name the soccer fields after Tayyara.

"I certainly think that would be appropriate," he said.

As of Sunday night, a funeral service had not been scheduled for Tayyara.

Bridget Manley can be reached at 875-1795 or


carn 8 years, 4 months ago

Patrick, yes this is one annoying thing about reading online. Sometimes, if you go to the "Community" tab at the top of the page and bring the comments to the article up, you can read the article by clicking the title of it at the top of the comments. Usually, this displays it without it being in layers.


lonelyone 8 years, 4 months ago

Patrick, sometimes if your on a page that puts the side info over the top of the article, you can hit refrresh.....if you have that option or you can put your cursor in the left hand column, I always click it just to make sure the computer knows where I'm am?? hold down the ctrl button and then move the scroll wheel on your mouse back and forth until the mess moves to where it's suppose to be. Course that depends on if you have a mouse with a scroll wheel. If that works for you, then be sure to look in the right hand corner where you'll see a number with a percent sign....mine is at 100%.....while holding the ctrl button down and using the scroll wheel, bring that number back up to what you normally have it at. That is how big your print will be on that page. That's probably as clear as mud huh??? lol


lonelyone 8 years, 4 months ago

But back to the topic at hand....Yes I am sure Mr. Tayyara will be missed. It seemed as tho if anything were going on in Craig, political or not, if it was something that involved the community, then Mr Tayyara was there. A few years ago the paper ran an artical about him and his growing up in his native country and all the problems of his youth and how he came to America. Maybe as a tribute to him they could run it again and let those who don't know him understand why he got so involved in this community. It was an interesting story.


Isis 8 years, 4 months ago

Farewell old friend as well. You will be remembered for your thoughtfullness, dedication, and caring personality. I feel honored to have known you.


slipknot 8 years, 4 months ago

My one regret about leaving MoCo is not being able to keep up my almost daily relationship with a grand gentleman. He had his human flaws but he always had the best interests of Craig and MoCo at heart . I will miss him and our debates on religion, politics, and the ever present evils of the labor unions. He will be received into the hand of a loving Savior who will welcome him home.


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