Vaughn Fred Downare

Vaughn Fred Downare, 85, died March 12, 2017, at the Arkansas Valley Regional Medical Center in La Junta of natural causes.

He was born Aug. 12, 1931, at Colorado General Hospital in Denver to Phillip and Esther Downare, the oldest of six children.

Friends and family said  he was a one-of-a-kind character and truly his own man who followed his ambitions through hard work and determination that started at an early age.

He enjoyed going to every kind of auction and at age 7 was trading goats and ditching school to drag calves on the back of his bicycle from the Roy Laws Sale Barn at Alameda and Federal Boulevard in Denver.

By age 8, he was delivering the Denver Post with a horse and cart and plowing fields and gardens for neighbors in the area.

When he was 9, he spent his summer working in a riding stable in Turkey Creek Canyon.

Those experiences sparked his interest and livestock career, but his drive extended beyond the corrals and into other areas throughout his life.

He got his first dirt construction job at age 16, where his first assignment was operating a shovel and a rake.

He went on to own and operate his own construction business in the 1960s, which led him to build more than a hundred miles of county roads in South Park throughout the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s.

Mr. Downare was also a carpenter. Not only did he make a living at it, but his skilled trade also allowed him to build or remodel every house he supplied for his family.

For him, a day off consisted of heading to the shop on a winter day to build and rebuild his wagons and buggies.

Mr. Downare married Florine Hamilton Sept. 20, 1952, and they spent 64 years together.

Starting out with $20 and a Chevrolet pickup, he continued to trade livestock and land, and together the couple built several ranches and farms, from Deer Creek Canyon to Salida to Hartsel, the Arkansas Valley, finally ending up in La Junta.

All the while, they brought up their four children and instilled deep family roots.

Primarily focusing on cattle and buffalo, Mr. Downare also raised several different breeds of horses. He especially liked a good Belgian team.

Finding enjoyment with uncommon animals, he held a wildlife parks license for many years and dabbled in keeping several different kinds of exotic animals, such as bears, African lions, mountain lions, elk, deer, bobcats, zebra, coyotes, wolves, fox, yak, elands and black buck.  

He always desired to own an elephant but never got the opportunity.

He also liked birds, which included ostrich, emu, pheasants of all kinds, peacocks, fancy chickens and pigeons.

Although he was keen on ranching and auctions, Mr. Downare loved his family most of all and liked to be surrounded by his loved ones.

Friends and family said while he is gone from earth, he has headed to the largest sale and is ranching cattle and buffalo on a thousand hills for the greatest rancher and cattle baron of all.

Mr. Downare was preceded in death by his parents, brother Richard, sister Lorna and son Mark.

Survivors include his wife; children, Chris (Cheri) Downare, Mark (Gail) Downare, Monte (Tracy) Downare and Becky (Ernie) Heine; 11 grandchildren; and 28 great-grandchildren.

His funeral services will be at 11 a.m. March 17, 2017, at United Methodist Church, 546 Locust Ave., Las Animas.

A reception will immediately follow at VFW Post No. 2411 in Las Animas.

A graveside service will be at 11 a.m. March 18, 2017 at the family memorial on his ranch in Hartsel. A luncheon will follow the service.

Memorial contributions may be made to Arkansas Valley Hospice in care of Horber Funeral Chapel, P.O. Box 431, Las Animas, CO 81054.

Arrangements were with Horber Funeral Chapel of Las Animas.

Online condolences may be offered at

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