North Fork Valley resident Harold "Emory" Townsend, age 94, passed away on Monday, Nov. 6, 2017, at his home on Rogers Mesa in Hotchkiss, Colo.
Emory was born on Sept. 11, 1923, in Richards, Colo., to the late Charles and Veda (Binford) Townsend. He came with his family to the North Fork Valley at 9 years of age where he went on to graduate with the Paonia High School class of 1941.
Emory married his bride, Beebe Grace Austin, on April 18, 1943, at the Friends Church in Paonia, almost two years before being deployed to Japan as a result of being drafted into the United States Army. They were blessed with three children, Patricia, Bonnie, and Eddie, and shared just over 72 years of marriage prior to her death on Aug. 1, 2015.
During their earlier years of marriage, Emory and Beebe worked at Pan American Seed in Paonia, during which time they made several memorable trips to Florida to help relocate the seed company after it was purchased by another party, resulting in their unexpected love for petunias.
Emory retired as a machinist for the Somerset Coal Mine in the '80s. After retiring, he rode horseback, sometimes for weeks at a time, for the U.S. Forest Service as a Wilderness Ranger in the West Elk and Ragged Mountain regions. During several summers, he was accompanied by his grandchildren as well as other local youth from the valley, both for memorable trail rides and providing kids with the experience of a lifetime, maintaining wilderness trails.
Starting in 1957, Emory and Beebe carried the mail for the U.S. Postal Service on the Ragged Mountain route. Even after Beebe's passing, he continued with the route until the time of his death. In fact, The Denver Post featured Emory on a front-page article, celebrating his monumental 60 plus years of tenure on a "rural route filled with wonder." Emory stated that ironically he had originally begun the route simply to make "a little bit of money to buy groceries."
Throughout his years, Emory called both the Friends Church in Paonia and Mountain View Bible Church in Lazear his church families. In addition to being a member of the Good Sams Club and the UMWA, his hobbies included horses, backpacking, hunting, fishing, 4-wheeling, camping, snowmobiling and gardening. Emory was enjoying all of these activities right up until the moment he went home and was reunited with his bride. His immense love for both his family and the great outdoors was known and admired by all who knew him.
Those grateful to have shared in Emory's life include daughters Patricia Shaffer with husband Doug and Bonnie Pace with husband Art, and son Eddie Townsend. Emory is further survived by 12 grandchildren, 25 great-grandchildren and 12, but soon to be 13, great-great-grandchildren.
Along with both of his parents and his wife, Emory was preceded in death by five sisters, two brothers, and daughter-in-law Caroline.
Funeral services were held at 2 p.m. Friday, Nov. 10, at Mountain View Bible Church in Lazear, with Pastor Jim Jesser officiating. Visitation took place an hour prior to the service at the church. Graveside services followed at Cedar Hill Cemetery in Paonia with Pastor Gaylen Kinser presiding.
Memorial contributions may be made to: Mountain View Bible Church, PO Box 74, Lazear, CO 81420 or The North Fork Ambulance, PO Box 127, Hotchkiss, CO 81419.
Arrangements are under the care and direction of Taylor Funeral Service and Crematory. View the internet obituary and sign the online guest registry at www.taylorfuneralservice.com.