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Dale N. Sowards, 95

Posted: Tuesday, Apr 2nd, 2013

Dale N. Sowards, 95, a well known Manassa resident passed away on March 29, 2013 at his home under Hospice care. Dale was born on May 7, 1917 in Manassa to George W. Sowards and Ara Melvina Nance. Dale has been a rancher, teacher, forester, coach, businessman, politician, government official and family man. He married his high school sweetheart Orva Nielson on December 24, 1937 in Sanford, Colorado and they were later sealed in the Arizona Temple on December 11, 1963. He graduated from Colorado State University with a degree in Forestry and Range management. Then he spent five years with the United States Forest Service.

Dale taught biology, chemistry and agriculture and coached basketball for a year in Manassa, as well as serving six years on the Manassa school and town boards.

He taught the farm training program at Adams State College for nine years and saw to it that a group of disabled veterans were allowed to finish the program when it was terminated.

Dales’ civic positions included president of the Cumbres-La Manga Cattle Association and the Manassa Land and Irrigation Company for 16 years; Vice president of the Southern Colorado Economic Development District; member of the executive committee of Colorado Commissioners Inc. for seven years, including two terms as CCI president in 1974-1976 and 1986.

He served as an appointed member of the National Association of Counties (NACo) taxation and finance committee and as a state chairman of Colorado Elected County Officials for the Re-election of President Gerald Ford.

In 1976 he was chosen as Most Outstanding Colorado Commissioner and was elected President of the 13 state NACo Western Region, the first time a Coloradoan had held the post. While serving in that capacity, Dale led two different rallies in Washington, D.C. involving Commissioners from across the nation.

He has been credited with being instrumental in seeing that the federal Payments-In-Lieu-of-Taxes (PILT) legislation was passed compensating counties with public lands for loss of tax revenue on those lands. He testified before Congress on the issue and was chairman of a PILT committee. Looking back on his long career in elected office the passing of the PILT was one of his most memorable experiences.

Dale served as chairman of the subcommittee on wilderness of NACo’s public land policy steering committee and testified before the House Interior Subcommittee on Public Lands, seeking a reasonable compromise between groups who were for and against wilderness designation.

He was elected to the board of directors of CCI and, in March of 1983, was assigned as one of the four persons to be guardians of a trust fund set up to test a Supreme Court case concerning PILT.

Dale was recognized by NACo for his involvement in Public Lands. A Dale Sowards Outstanding Public Lands official award has been established by NACo to be given yearly at the Western Interstate Region Conference, an event he helped organize.

He had a hand in building a new Courthouse and establishing the County Library, which he considered as issues of primary importance during his tenure as commissioner. The new courthouse was built after the old one burned to the ground and he said he pushed to have it paid off four months after it was completed. He couldn’t see the county having to pay $350,000.00 in interest.

Dale was an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In the church he served as the Superintendent of the Sunday school, he taught numerous Priesthood classes and was involved with Boy Scouts and taught M.I.A.

He is survived by his children Carlyn (Louise) Sowards, and Diana (Ed) Bechaver of Manassa; his brother Arlyn (Cynthia) Sowards of North Port, Washington; his sister-in-law Dorthy G. Sowards, his grandchildren Pam Christensen, Mark (Sheli) Bechaver, Paul (Charlyn) Harris, Jeff Sowards, Jodi (Eddie) Garcia, Brian (Leslie) Bechaver, Eddie Bechaver, Jason Bechaver, Jenna Sowards, and Natalie Bechaver; as well as 15 great-grandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews.

Dale was preceded in death by his parents, his wife Orva Sowards, his siblings; George N. (Dona) Sowards, Elaine (Perry) Johnson, Vaughn N. Sowards and Elwin N. (Lena) Sowards.

A visitation will be held from 9:00 A.M. until 10:45 AM. Wednesday, April 3, 2013 in the Primary Room at the Manassa First Ward Chapel of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. A Funeral Service will follow at 11:00 A.M. Interment will follow services in the Manassa Cemetery. Contributions are suggested to Hospice Del Valle and may be made in care of the funeral home.

Rogers Family Mortuary is in care of the arrangements. To leave online condolences for the family or to sign an online guestbook please visit www.rogersfunerals.com

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