Paul Rokich

paul rokich

August 12, 1933 ~ May 3, 2019

Resided in: Pueblo, Colorado

Paul Rokich, passed away on May 3, 2019, in Pueblo, Colo. He was born in Smelter Camp near Garfield, Utah on August 12, 1933, to Paul and Anna Rukavina (Rokich), one of seven brothers and one sister. The family moved to Magna, Utah where Paul attended Cyprus High School after which he joined the United States Army and served for two years in Germany. He attended the University of Utah where he met and married Ann Simpson. They had three sons. During his childhood the family lived in a copper smelter camp built by his father's employer, ASARCO, at the base of the Oquirrh Mountains in Utah. As a young boy, Paul was disturbed by the environmental degradation in those mountains caused by years of logging, grazing and smelter emissions. He vowed to restore those mountains to beauty and to make a home for the deer, elk and other animals. He worked on his own time and money and the generosity of friends and family for 15 years while supporting his young family with construction jobs. He was hired by Kennecott Copper in 1973 to reclaim land disturbed by mining operations. He worked for Kennecott (Rio Tinto America) from 1973 to 2001, when he retired as an environmental engineer and moved to Pueblo, Colorado. In retirement, Paul enjoyed fishing, hiking, traveling, the National Western Stock Show and studying the history of the southwest, especially New Mexico and Colorado. Paul received many awards for his work, the first being named 'Arbor Day Boy' at his elementary school in 1941. During WWII, he was part of a team of boys called 'Champion Rubber Collectors of Magna,' memorialized in a newsreel shown in theaters across America. He was also presented awards from the Arbor Day Foundation, American Forestry Association, Utah and National Garden Clubs, ROMCOE, Outstanding Alumnus of Cyprus High School, Olympic Torchbearer/Community Hero for 1996 Olympic Torch Relay and others. Paul is survived by his wife, Ann; and two sons, Paul (Cyndie Gonzales) and Ted (Jan); and his brother, Nick. His son, Tom, preceded him in death as did his parents; sister, Mary Nadeau; and brothers, John, Steve, Mike and Pete Rokich. Honoring his request, there will be no service. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests a donation to Red Butte Garden and Arboretum online or at 300 Wakara Way, Salt Lake City, UT 84108. Online condolences,

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  1. Dear Ann,
    So sorry to hear about Paul. He certainly left a legacy for lots of people. What a great example he was for all of us.
    I know you must have been torn between Paul and Betty at almost the same time.
    Frank was not able to go to Betty’s funeral but our son Paul and I went. It was everything Betty would have wanted. Would love to hear from you.

  2. Ann, I was so sad to read of Paul’s passing. The world is a better place for his having been here. I still chuckle when I look out over the Oquirrh’s today and recall stories you shared about his determination to re-forest the mountain with a mule, a lantern, and a saddlebag full of seedlings. He was an inspiration to everyone, particularly those who love gardening. What a privilege to know you both!
    God Bless, You are in my prayers.

  3. What is the definition of a life well lived ? A life filled with joy and sorrow, satisfaction and commitment, dedication and tenacity, exploration and knowledge? Paul Rokich’s life exemplified these and other qualities to a level few could compare. A quiet man of few words whose efforts and results spoke volumes. A man so well read that he could discuss history to farm commodities with a knowledge that would impress a college professor. A man of lofty dreams that became a reality and continues every time a Gamble oak acorn falls from a branch. A man that derived simple pleasures that many wouldn’t understand. A lone traveler to places few have ever heard of or could appreciate. A man who sought little recognition, but who’s efforts could not go unnoticed. His work is acknowledged by an everyday citizen who appreciates the brilliant fall colors of an aspen grove on the peaks of the Oquirrh Mountains to world renowned primatologist,Jane Goodall who admired his work. A man who toured America on a Greyhound bus just as he was released from Military service. A young man who herded cattle, raised Poland China hogs and had a deep appreciation for livestock. A man who owned horses and mules that received care that would be envied by royal equine.

    Fond memories abound from trips for an ice cream riding in the bed of a pickup truck as a child to ordering anything on the menu on hunting trips at the best cafes. I am fortunate to have been a part of some of these experiences with Paul Rokich.

    For the few who know where to look, the skyline above Paul’s birthplace home at the Smelter Camp is marked by a giant Sequoia that overlooks the Great Salt Lake. Paul planted that tree years ago and it can be seen from highway below. Once an area of eroded devastation it now harbors one of the largest and longest living things on earth, and is a fitting testament to a humble man who made a difference and had a “Life Well Lived”. Thank you Uncle Paul.

    Gib Rokich

  4. Paul was one person if you met you could never forget about. He was a man who cared more about nature then himself, and always thought of family first. He had a sense of humor and always loved to talk about experiences he had. People and family enjoyed the stories of his walks by the river, and the fawns and baby birds he would see every spring. He always lit up the room with laughter and joy no matter how upset someone would be. He took care of his family as he did the nature in his backyard and river. I will miss his help and opinion in the kitchen and his rating of the cookies me and Ann baked. I will never forget the walks we went on and the rides in the little red wagon that I sadly grown out of. I won’t forget the breadsticks that I would always be given every time I would visit on the way home from Kansas. Your stories, jokes, opinions, criticism, helpfulness, and kindness will never be forgotten. I love you Paul and nobody will ever forget you. – love Madison Rokich

  5. I’m so sorry Ann to hear of your loss. I know Trylogie loved visiting with you guys when she was there. And of course you both were as kind to her as you were with me when you lived in Utah. I know Paul will be greatly missed, he was an amazing man! Your in our prayers…

  6. Paul was a special fella with a wonderful sense of humor and had an extraordinary love for the outdoors. I enjoyed our visits thru the years!

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