Robert Lee Yates


Robert Lee Yates was born in Grants, N.M., on Jan. 1, 1967, to Bob and Sherri Yates. The family moved to Cortez in 1974 and he attended Lewis-Arriola Elementary School, Cortez Junior High School and graduated from M-CHS in 1985. In 1986, he enlisted in the Army and served three years as a Blackhawk Helicopter Crew Chief with the 101st Airborne, Screaming Eagles, Fort Campbell, Ken. He was honorably discharged in January 1989.

After returning home, he was employed by the Williams Cos. (Northwest Pipeline), where he worked for over 22 years. He worked in operations and became Area Chief of Construction in 2009.

Rob and Tonya were married at the Arriola Bible Church in November 1991 and had their son, Bradey Rey, in January 1993.

'Doin' What He Loved and Loving What He Did'

On Wednesday, March 5, 2014, Rob went snowmobiling to Heaven. He was caught in an avalanche, and we have yet to recover his body. For this reason, we will not be holding a memorial service until we bring him home.

We didn't know the impact that Rob had on our community. Through all of the activities & hobbies that he was involved in, he truly touched so many lives. Rob was the chairman of the Ute Mountain Roundup Rodeo for two years and served on the Executive Board for six years. He served on the Montezuma County fair board, was a 4-H leader, and an active member of the Four Corners Trail Club. Rob felt a civic responsibility for the Cortez area and was involved with so many activities. With each volunteer event, he created more friendships and relationships. He loved golfing, team roping, snowmobiling, four wheeling, going to Lake Powell; Rob just clicked with each crowd.

A family man

Rob was family! He had an uncommon relationship with his brother, Ellis. The closeness they shared was admired by so many. Every morning, he had coffee with his Mom and Dad and was constantly involved with and looking after Bradey, Lolly, Wyatt, and Zane. The love of his life and the one person he had the most fun with, is his wife, Tonya. The stories, laughter and fun they had kept their love strong! For 25 years they loved, raised Bradey and had plans for their future. Rob was a born-again Christian, and although he didn't attend church regularly, he felt a responsibility for friends and family, always serving as the protector and always the guy that showed up to help. His sweet ways are what people were attracted to and he had an infectious smile and laugh. He was a testimony as to how a Christian man should live and love.

Rob leaves behind his wife, Tonya (Duran); son, Bradey; parents, Bob and Sherri (Lytle) Yates; brother and family Ellis and Angela (Cutting), Wyatt and Zane; father and mother in-law, Vic and Traci (Douglas) Duran; brother-in-law and family, Vic and Candi (Chappell), Bailey, Caisey, Torey and Brinley Duran; Rob's maternal grandparents, Dan and Hazel Pennock; and paternal grandmother, Vivian Yates; as well as many aunts, uncles and cousins.

Thank you

At this time, the family would like to thank each and every one of the people involved in the search, who have sent texts, emails, cards, flowers, food, all of the hugs, prayers and support we have received. The San Miguel County Search and Rescue and Sheriff Dennis Spruell, we appreciate all that you have done in the search for Rob. You cannot know how much it all means to us! To Jamie and everyone involved in getting the chili supper and fundraiser together for the search and recovery, "Thank you" is just not adequate enough. We love our community and feel so blessed to live in Cortez. Thank you all!


The Yates and Duran families