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Meeker resident and veteran highway engineer and administrator, R. A. “Dick” Prosence passed away at his home in Meeker on March 21, 2020. He was 95. Born in Illinois, he grew up in Colorado and Utah. After serving in the Army during World War II, he received a degree in civil engineering from the University of Utah in 1950. While working for the U.S. Bureau of Public Roads he returned to Colorado and eventually went to Grand Junction to work for the Colorado Department of Highways. The last 13 years of 26 years of service with the Department, he was District Engineer, supervising all highway activities for northwestern Colorado.
Dick was a leader in the development of Interstate Route 70 between the Utah state line and Silverthorne, including widely acclaimed segments over Vail Pass and through Glenwood Canyon. For one year he lived in Glenwood Springs and supervised the construction of the twin tunnels east of town. During his tenure Colorado highway projects received many national awards. In 1974 the section of I-70 from Mack to the Utah state line won the top national award for a rural highway in its natural environment. Dick believed in widely sweeping curves and broad medians as constructed east and west of Rifle and from Loma west. In 1980 Dick received the prestigious Forest Service 75th Anniversary Award for his support of environmental concerns along the Vail Pass segment of I-70,
During the controversy over the Glenwood Canyon segment of I-70 Dick was tenacious in his determination to succeed in getting route and design approvals so that construction could proceed. During the summer of 1976 he lived in the Colorado Hotel in Glenwood Springs so that he could personally conduct public tours of the canyon and chair the many public meetings.
Once the final design of the canyon segment had won approval, Dick retired and moved to Phoenix to assist with design development for the Papago Freeway through the center of the city. Many aesthetic solutions developed for Vail Pass and Glenwood Canyon can be found on Phoenix area freeway projects.
Dick loved the outdoors. He would miss supper to go fly fishing with his hand tied flies. Camping and hiking wilderness trails were favorite activities. For 30 years he rode all varieties of motorcycles, beginning with Tote Gotes in 1964. These rides included trips to Canada and the coast on street bikes.
A prolific author of “Letters to the Editor,” Dick had more than 100 of his letters on a variety of subjects printed in newspapers in Phoenix, Denver, Vail, Aspen, Glenwood Springs, Meeker, Grand Junction, Montrose and Gunnison. His book, Building I-70, describes the development of that freeway across Western Colorado. A second book, Wheels in My Life, documents every wheeled vehicle beginning with his first tricycle and describing each car, truck, motorcycle and bicycle and the experiences he enjoyed with each one.
Dick is survived by his wife Beverly; children Cas Nelson (Dale), Gillette, Wyoming; Paul Prosence (Nancy), North Salt Lake City, Utah; Matt Prosence (Konnie); stepchildren David Dickman, Grand Junction, Colorado; Annie Long, Meeker, Colorado; Paul Dickman (Denise), Phoenix, Arizona; several grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews.
Cremation has taken place and a celebration of life will be held later in the summer.
Memorial donations may be made to Hope West, 575 Third St., Meeker, Colorado, 81641.