San Luis Valley native, Royce Rodney Reinhardt, 90, passed away on Feb. 7, 2022, in Grand Junction, Colo. He was born on Aug. 23, 1931, in Alamosa, Colo., to Elmer Reinhardt and Mabel (Goff) Reinhardt. Royce grew up in the Bowen Community south of Monte Vista and graduated from Monte Vista High School in 1949.
He enlisted in the United States Air Force in 1950 and after basic training stateside, he spent three years at a couple of different bases in Germany. Upon returning home from Germany, he married Jessie Marie Landes on June 6, 1954, at Bowen Methodist Church near Monte Vista.
After finishing his final few months of the Air Force near Reno, Nev., the couple returned to the San Luis Valley where Royce began farming in the Bowen Community, later moving to the Carmel District where they raised five children and farmed for over 40 years.
It was as a farmer where Royce found his true calling in life. For many years he farmed with his brother, Roland Reinhardt. In high school the two of them loaded potatoes by hand and were able to buy a new 1950 Dodge flatbed truck, and later with money saved during their stints in the Air Force were able to start farming together.
After their move to Carmel, they were among the first to adopt center pivot irrigation and to plant alfalfa using that system. Royce served many years on the Alamosa/La Jara Water Conservancy Board and during his tenure as president of the Terrace Irrigation Company Board was instrumental in building the concrete ditch system, overseeing the construction of 29 miles of ditch and headgates. He received the Adolph Coors Environmental Award for water conservation in 1994 for his efforts with that project. Eventually Royce and Roland separated their farming operations, but Royce’s legacy carries on with both his sons, Ronald and Kent, and his grandson, Ryan, continuing to farm in the area.
Royce grew up across the road from Bowen Methodist Church and was a lifelong member. He served as treasurer for many years, and both he and Jessie were dedicated and active in countless roles, big and small at Bowen, for their entire life together. Royce enjoyed any game with a ball…softball, bowling, volleyball, and especially golf, and he played on the men’s league at the Monte Vista Golf Course for many years.
The mountains surrounding the San Luis Valley were special to him; many a Sunday afternoon was spent running up to the hills for a hamburger fry on the campfire, and he loved both ice-fishing and fishing from his boat on St. Maria Reservoir. Later years found him and Jessie traveling to spend winter weeks in Mazatlan, Mexico; they also enjoyed a trip to Europe together and a number of cruises, including a memorable one through the Panama Canal.
But it was as a husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather that Royce’s life had such a lasting impact. He had an affinity for children, and they for him. The grandkids, and later the great-grandkids were drawn to his presence because he was FUN, and he could turn just about anything into a game!
Royce is survived by his five children: Schonie (Willard) Nielsen, Rhonda (Mike) Entz, Ronald (Mary) Reinhardt, Sonya (Galen) Smith, and Kent (Vivian) Reinhardt; his grandchildren, Seth (Angie) Nielsen, Kristin Nielsen, Adam Nielsen, Brynna (Aaron) Jones, Vicki (Ryan) Johnson, Matt (Shea) Reinhardt, Marci (Jeff) Moore, Sarah (Kasey) Cox, Josh (Jessie) Smith, Chantal (Carl) Swanson, and Ryan Reinhardt; 15 great-grandchildren; and numerous extended family members.
Royce was preceded in death by his parents; his wife, Jessie; his grandchildren, Brooke Nicole Entz and Kristopher Aaron Entz; and his brothers, Roland and Gary Reinhardt.
A celebration of Royce’s life will be held this summer (date still to be determined and announced). Contributions are suggested to Beaver Creek Youth Camp and/or Bowen Church and may be made in care of the funeral home office. To express condolences, please visit www.rogersfunerals.com.
Rogers Family Mortuary is in care of the arrangements.