Bob Nicodemus: Craig veteran with 97 years of stories to tell
November 11, 2015
Craig — On Tuesday morning, 97-year-old Bob Nicodemus could be found at the top of a ladder on his front driveway, extracting leaves from a leaky gutter.
The Moffat County native and World War II veteran also makes a habit of shoveling snow off his roof in the winter, gardening, baking cookies for his great nieces and nephews and running daily errands on his red motorized scooter.
"I'm busy most of the time. I've got lots of yard work to do, a lawn to mow, leaves to rake, trees to trim," Nicodemus said.
Born in 1918 to a homesteading family south of Juniper Springs, Nicodemus wanted nothing more than to enlist in the U.S. Navy when World War II broke out. After being initially rejected due to a lazy eye, he sought out the help of a local doctor to help him correct his vision problems.
"I got to thinking, boy, if there's any way on earth I could get in the Navy, I was going to get in there," Nicodemus said.
Six months into the U.S.' participation in the war, he successfully enlisted. After a short stint driving trucks, Nicodemus was finally placed on the U.S.S. Key, a Navy destroyer, which took him from the North Atlantic to Italy, the Panama Canal and the South Pacific. He even took basic training for submarines and worked in the machine shop on Midway Island.
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"I was just fascinated about being in the Navy," he said. "We went all over in that destroyer…. I was just a country kid that didn't know enough and that's good for kids to get away from home."
Nicodemus served three years in the Navy until the war ended, and then returned home to Craig, where he married the daughter of his former ranch employer, Berdena Reeve. They had two children, Alman and Dena, and opened an implement, or farm equipment, business. In the 1960s, having traded his way into raising livestock, Nicodemus sold the business to focus on ranching, and after another decade, took up doing masonry work.
His partner through all of it, Berdena passed away about three years ago after nearly 65 years of marriage.
"I do pretty well in the daytime, but after dark it gets pretty lonely," Nicodemus said.
Nicodemus is known by many around town by his red scooter, which replaced the bicycle on which he used to commute until he had to give cycling up about six years ago.
"Though he sometimes logged as many as 8,000 miles annually on his bikes, he eschewed the usual bicyclist's spandex earning him the affectionate nickname of the 'Levi cyclist,'" according to a Museum of Northwest Colorado column featuring Nicodemus.
Nicodemus' niece, Patty Myers of Hamilton, keeps weekly Sunday dinner dates with him and attributes his acuity to his work ethic.
"I think that's why he does so good is he continues to work," Myers said. "That's what makes him stay young is he keeps busy and he's always conscientious… We just think he's so special."