Through sobriety, training and work, residents of Step 13 shall become self-reliant, productive members of our community serving as an example to others that success can be achieved by stopping the practice of enabling self-destructive behavior, breaking the cycle of dependency, and promoting responsibility.
President/Founder, Step 13
A public celebration of Bob’s life will take place on Saturday, October 26th at Coors Field in the Wells Fargo Club. Please utilize Entrance C on the First Base side of the stadium on Blake Street. Parking is available in the RTD lot north of Coors Field. The celebration will begin at 2:00 p.m. and shall be hosted by Bob’s longtime friend, Peter Boyles. For further information, please call 303.295.STEP.
Robert Dean Coté passed away at 1:26 p.m. on Friday, September 27, 2013 at his home in Denver, CO.
He was born June 17, 1940 in Flint, MI to Robert and Louise Coté. His parents preceded him in death.
Bob grew up in Detroit, MI, and was a Golden Gloves boxer. Those experiences prepared Bob for the challenges life presented him. A successful career in sales took Bob to Denver in the early 80’s; however, it was during this time where addiction took hold of Bob and would chart a different course for his life -- a course marked by adversity and, ultimately, triumph.
Bob’s addiction consumed him to the point he wound up living on Denver’s skid row. In a moment of clarity he saw the demise and occasional death of other homeless addicts. Bob knew he might suffer the same fate so he emptied his bottle to become and remain sober. He would recruit others in his effort to help homeless addicts gain their sobriety which led to his founding of Step 13.
Bob Coté would became a fixture on Larimer Street. A towering presence of tough love, American Enterprise magazine described him as “a one-man alternative to the welfare state. Take one part Florence Nightingale, add three parts John Wayne, and one part cowboy poet…running a shelter that turns homeless drunks and junkies into productive citizens….” President/Founder of the Center for Neighborhood Enterprise and longtime friend, Robert Woodson declared, “Bob not only was an advocate for the homeless, he became a witness to them.”
Coté’s unorthodox style didn’t always sit well with politicians and other homeless advocates. The Denver Post once described Bob as a “Skid Row heretic” because he scoffed at the so-called traditional ways of treatment saying they “de-humanized the homeless.” Coté also rejected any government funding for Step 13 declaring taxpayer dollars enabled non-profits to become addicted to government money and were unnecessary to run an effective program.
Bob’s independent spirit gained national recognition for Step 13. President George H.W. Bush designated Step 13 one of his “Thousand Points of Light.” ABC’s 20/20 and John Stossel featured Bob and the simple, yet effective approach to helping residents become sober and self-reliant. Bob’s philosophy of “Work works” – whereby residents are required to pay rent and be employed – received accolades from the Wall Street Journal to Readers Digest.
Bob parlayed this recognition into tackling an issue near to his heart: Reforming Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Bob witnessed firsthand the devastating effect SSI had on the homeless: Individuals receiving SSI – originally designed to help those with disabilities – were using their checks to purchase drugs and alcohol. His outspoken passion caught the attention of then-Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich, who tapped Bob to lobby Congress and successfully incorporate changes to SSI under the Welfare Reform Act of 1996.
While Bob impacted public policy and gained recognition for Step 13, his legacy can ultimately be found in the thousands of men whose lives he touched at Step 13. Bob’s legacy will continue for years to come in the staff that he shaped and in the men that will go through the doors of Step 13 and come out clean, sober, and self-reliant.
Bob Coté was loved by many; he was respected by even more. He will be greatly missed.
He leaves behind his five sisters: Barbara Clementz, Jan Harmon, Brenda Staroba, Nancy Blakely, Cheryl Gaither.
Bob is also survived by his son Robert Coté III (Cindi) of Elizabethtown, Kentucky; and his grandchildren Robert Coté IV (Kimberly), and Mercedes Coté.
Bob was preceded in death by his daughter, Shelly Coté, of Denver.
Memorials can be made to “Step 13” located at 2029 Larimer, Denver, CO 80205.
With the understanding that any system or program which takes responsibility away from a capable person dehumanizes that person, Step 13 shall promote the ideals that not only address the causes of poverty, but shall also address the causes of wealth. In serving as a model for organizations across the nation, Step 13 shall have a transformative role in the reducing the number of chronically homeless individuals.