SHERIDAN—Marion “Mutt” Rinaldo, a long-time Wyoming resident, died on Friday, January 28, 2022, at the Sheridan VA Hospital. He was 97 ½ years old. He had lived in Thermopolis, Wyoming, for nearly 30 years before moving to assisted living in Sheridan in 2021.
Mutt is survived by his daughter, Elizabeth Rinaldo, and granddaughters Kristin and Kaylee; in addition to sons, Jeffrey and David Rinaldo; many nephews and nieces; and good friends, Kim Breslin and Al Walker. His last remaining sibling, Philomena Rexroat, also died on January 28, 2022, at a nursing home in Texas.
Mutt was the third of six children born to Mavila and Sebastiano Rinaldo, who immigrated to Colorado from Italy in the early 1900’s. His name was supposed to be “Mario”, but the attending nurse added an “n” after his name designating “no middle name,” which the State of Colorado interpreted as the last letter of his first name. Thus, due to scrivener error, he was legally named “Marion.” His brothers (Joe, Louis, Hector and Angelo) and sister Philomena grew up on a farm outside of Sterling, Colorado.
Mutt served in WWII as a Navy Yeoman, and was stationed in Guam. After the war was over, he returned to Colorado, attended Sterling Junior College, and met and married his wife (Betty Jane) in 1953. They moved to Wyoming in 1961, and he traveled throughout Colorado, Wyoming and Utah as an oil field salesman for Bethlehem Steel, Hughes Tool, and Dresser OME.
Mutt loved to fish, rock hunt, tell jokes, cook buttered chicken on his charcoal barbecue, and watch Gunsmoke. He was an excellent golfer, which sport he gave up when he was 83 because, as he said, “I’m not getting any better and I can’t afford titanium clubs.” He could build and fix almost anything. He and Betty Jane loved to dance, and saw big-band acts that travelled through Sterling to Denver. Among many other things, he taught his kids how to play baseball and cards, drive a stick-shift, fix cars and pour cement and renovate a basement, and to be independent problem-solvers. In later life, when Mutt and Betty Jane moved to Palisades, Colorado, they cultivated over 1,000 grapevines on their land and sold grapes to the local winery. They moved to Thermopolis, Wyoming in 1992, where Mutt was an active member of VFW Post 2281, and where he met many kind and wonderful people. Betty Jane passed away in 2003.
People who met Mutt couldn’t help but smile. He used to joke that he was “160 pounds of spring steel and western romance.” He also claimed that he got his nickname “Mutt” because he used to pee on car tires as a child. He wiggled his ears at the ladies, told amazing stories, loved feeding the deer that roamed the gully behind his house, and found something to look forward to every day. He had an incredible rock collection and enjoyed telling people about the origins of each rock. He had a good life, leaves many happy memories behind, and will be greatly missed.
A celebration of Mutt’s life will be held on Saturday, June 25, 2022 from 2-5 p.m., at VFW Post 2281 in Thermopolis, WY.
The family asks that any donations in his memory be sent to VFW Post 2281 at http://veterans-of-foreign-wars-post-2281.square.site/.
On-line condolences may be made at www.kanefuneral.com.
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