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Obituary - Richard Clair Engler

Allison resident Richard Clair Engler died Thursday, March 11, 2010, at his home after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease. He was 80.

Mr. Engler was born to Paris and Elizabeth “Betty” Engler on Feb. 16, 1930, at Mercy Hospital in Durango. He was taken home to the family farm, which his grandfather homesteaded in 1904.

Mr. Engler continued to ranch and farm on the land until his health prevented him from keeping it going. He sold most of it to his grandson Jake Nossaman to keep it in the family.

As a boy, Mr. Engler herded sheep for his father in the Spring Gulch and Carbonate Basin areas during the summers. He attended school in Tiffany, usually riding his horse or walking the couple of miles from home.

On July 8, 1949, he married Shirley J. Tate in Aztec. They farmed part of the homestead, raising crops — potatoes, hay, wheat and certified oats — and sheep and cattle.

“Richard was at home outside,” his family wrote. “Anyone who ever met him has a story to tell.”

Summers found him moving cattle on the summer range on Carracas Mesa southeast of Navajo Lake.

He always looked forward to the fall, when he could hunt elk on the upper place in Spring Gulch. The potatoes always had to be dug and stored in the cellar, and the cattle brought home from Carracas before the hunt.

One of his other favorite places was Falls Creek where he fished for brook trout.

“He could outwalk us all,” his family wrote. “He would say, ‘It’s only another quarter mile,’ but we thought they were long quarter miles.”

He was an active member and officer of the Allison Community Presbyterian Church, Mt. Allison Grange, La Plata Pomona Grange, Colorado State Grange, National Grange, La Plata-Archuleta Cattlemen’s Association, Colorado Cattlemen’s Association, National Cattlemen’s Association, National Farmers Organization and Ignacio & Bayfield Lions Club.

Mr. Engler served on numerous boards, including: Pine River Canal, Federal Housing Administration, Southern Ute Community Action Program, Seed Growers, La Plata County Fair Board, La Plata Electric Association, La Plata County Weed and Rodent Committee and the Colorado State Brand Board. He was a 4-H leader, volunteer firefighter, served in the La Plata County Sheriff’s posse, and, while working as a deputy, he helped transport prisoners to Cañon City.

Mr. Engler was named Cattleman of the Year in 1984, received the Durango Pro Rodeo’s Western Heritage Award in 1991, the Outstanding Agriculturist of the Year Award from the Durango Chamber of Commerce in 1998 and was named an honorary member of the La Plata County Fair Board after more than 25 years of service. Mr. and Mrs. Engler were honored as Outstanding State Granger in 2006.

Mr. Engler was preceded in death by his grandson, Douglas Glenn Phelps.

He is survived by his wife of more than 60 years, Shirley Engler, of Allison; daughters Norma Conley and Sharon Nossaman, both of Allison, Karen Baxter and Patricia Corman, both of Bayfield, and Louetta Phelps of Sarasota, Fla.; brothers David Engler of Allison and Ernest Engler of Apache Junction, Ariz.; sisters Grace Holcomb of Palm Desert, Calif., and Betty Jean Priddy of Colorado Springs; 13 grandchildren (Jake and Tandy Nossaman, Marlin and Mary Nossaman, Brad Corman, Kayla Corman, Dylan and Elizabeth Simons, Cory and Shona Baxter, Charles and Tanya Ruybal, Mellissa Deweese, Don and April Dukart, Steve and Yvonne Chapman, Derick Phelps, Shanda Price, Krissa Phelps); 20 great-grandchildren; and numerous nieces and nephews.

A funeral was held at 2 p.m. Saturday, March 13, 2010, at the Allison Community Presbyterian Church. The Rev. Alan TeBrink officiated. Burial took place at the Allison-Tiffany Cemetery in Allison.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be sent to the Allison Community Presbyterian Church, P.O. Box 1899, Arboles, CO 81121; or the Mt. Allison Grange, c/o George Knoll, 91 Happy Valley Lane, Ignacio, CO 81137.