Lewis Franklin Townsend

Lewis Franklin Townsend passed away Saturday September 11, 2021 at his home in Estes Park, Colorado. Lew was born November 29, 1949 in Chadron, Nebraska to his wonderful parents Dr. Robert Lewis Townsend and Helen (Kounovsky) Townsend. Lew was the youngest of three children, raised in a very loving home. His father was a Minister in the United Methodist Church and his mother a School teacher. The family would spend their summers in Estes Park, and when Lew was in high school he had a job delivering groceries for Brodie’s Grocery Store.

Lew graduated from Kearney High School in Kearney, Nebraska in 1967 before heading out to the west coast to search for all of the excitement that Southern California had to offer. Lew worked as an Ambulance Driver for Schaffer Ambulance, and had an apartment in Malibu on the Pacific Coast Highway when he met California native Mary Arrighi in 1971. They had a blast on Lew’s motorcycle spending their weekends riding with friends to the mountains, the desert or up and down the amazing PCH. Lew and Mary were married in June 1973 at the First United Methodist Church in Hastings, Nebraska, and spent their Honeymoon in Estes Park. After their union they moved to San Diego where Lew found work in construction building concrete tilt-up walls for commercial buildings. In the Spring of 1974 they decided to try a change of pace, and they packed up their truck and their dogs and set out across the country. They ended up in Hyattville, Wyoming and found work on a Cattle and Sheep Ranch in the Big Horn Mountains. Lew helped with the Cattle and Mary with the Sheep. After about nine months they moved on to Hastings, Nebraska to be closer to Lew’s family. Lew found work in home construction and later started his own company, that built the McDonalds in Hastings, and another restaurant in Grand Island called Hobo Joes. Lew and Mary share a daughter, Jean.

Lew met Leslie O’Hern in 1979 in Prescott, Arizona where he was working construction building restaurants. They were married in March 1980 on a mountain outside Wickenburg, Arizona while gold mining at the historic Red Bluff Mine. They spent their summers working in Estes Park from 1979-1981. They continued to spend the winter months mining in Arizona at Red Bluff and Yellow Bird Mines until moving to Missoula, Montana (Leslie’s hometown) in the fall of 1982. He built a VW powered dredge for gold mining on the Missouri River outside Helena, Montana with his brother-in-law Mark in the summer of 1983. While the gold mining didn’t produce much gold, it provided abundant golden experiences that Lew loved to tell stories about. He did come from a long line of talkers! Lew began doing remodeling and maintenance work in Missoula, and later lived in and remodeled the old school house in Bonita, Montana outside Missoula. Lew also loved hunting and fishing in Montana. Lew and Leslie moved to Estes Park in the fall of 1985 with their two sons, Morgan and Bobby. They started their own business Alpine Maintenance, where they did a wide variety of work including remodeling and chimney cleaning and repair. Lew volunteered for the Cub Scouts, and helped found a Boy Scout Troop focused on low impact outdoor experiences and community service.

Lew loved their annual family trips from 1988-1995 to Cedar Mesa and the Bluff, Utah area and Chaco Canyon in New Mexico, spent camping, hiking and exploring Anasazi lands full of ruins and rock art. They were joined by many treasured friends on some of these trips. Lew and Leslie were able to give their sons many amazing Spring Break experiences on the Hopi Reservation in northern Arizona, where they would visit annually for six years making many wonderful friends and memories. They were blessed to be invited into Kiva Ceremonies, and their sons were able to attend school on First Mesa during their Spring Break trips from 1991-1994.

Later in life Lew worked as a General Contractor remodeling homes in the Estes Valley. He enjoyed and took great pride in doing tile work, and even found a new talent and hobby building furniture. Lew loved fishing Lake Estes and surrounding rivers, and generally any time spent in the outdoors all year round. He enjoyed deep conversations about life, history, philosophy and music with his family and friends, that they equally enjoyed and will miss. He loved & cherished his beloved Golden Retrievers, and he was passionate about both Broncos and Nebraska football.

He was preceded in death by his loving parents, his beloved sister Judith Joy O’Brien and brother-in-law John Nicholson. He is survived by his sister Rosemary Nicholson, of McKinney, Texas, his brother-in-law Bill O’Brien of Chicago, Illinois, his three children, Jean Tasker (Mark) of Estes Park, Colorado, Morgan Townsend (Tara Back) of Loveland, Colorado, Bobby Townsend (Sarah Mummert) of Estes Park, Colorado, his four grandchildren, Hunter, Evan, Hanna and Mathew, and nieces and nephew Tim, Laura, Nancy, and Claire, and great niece and nephews, James, Andrew, Meredith and Preston.

In lieu of flowers you may make a donation to the American Lung Association at lung.org or to Native American Charities including The Hopi Foundation at hopifoundation.org

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