Kelly Sowards


MANASSA — Lifetime Manassa resident Kelly Sowards, 96, died September 19, 2020, at his home in Manassa, surrounded by his family.

Kelly was born in Manassa, Colorado to Troy Sowards and Vida Jackson Sowards on July 7, 1924.

Kelly served in the United States Navy during World War II in the South Pacific.  He then attended college at the University of Colorado where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Civil Engineering.  While attending college he met and married the love of his life and eternal companion, Avaline Colleen May.  They were married on September 20, 1947, and their marriage was sealed for all time and eternity in the Mesa, Arizona Temple on Valentine’s Day, February 14, 1952.

Kelly worked all of his life as a Cattle Rancher.  He served as President and Board Member of the Conejos Water Conservancy District for 43 years from 1957 – 2000.  He was a Water Warrior and was the head of the San Antonio-Los Pinos-Conejos Acequia Preservation Association that fought for equal water rights for all. 

He was an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and held many callings including Bishop, Young Men’s President, and others.  He and his wife Avaline served a couple’s mission in San Francisco in 1990.  Travels in their later years took them to South America, New Zealand, Australia, Alaska and to Hawaii 28 times to visit their daughter and family.  Kelly enjoyed fishing and especially loved teaching his grandchildren how to fish.  He was one of the last true cowboys. 

He is survived by his children Melody (Michael) Holland of Kailua, Hawaii, Shaun (Cyndy) Sowards of St. Louis, Missouri and Troy (Camille) Sowards of Manassa, CO; his sister-in-law Coral Sowards of Manassa, CO; as well as 19 grandchildren, 27 great-grandchildren, and numerous nieces, nephews and extended family.

A public visitation will be held at the Rogers Family Mortuary in Manassa from 6:00-8:00 p.m. Wednesday, September 23rd.  A private funeral service will be held on Thursday, September 24th. 

Interment will follow services in the Sowards Family Cemetery in Manassa.   

Rogers Family Mortuary is in care of the arrangements.  To leave online condolences, remarks and words of comfort for the family, please visit