Clay Vern Bader

Memorial services for longtime Mancos resident Clay Vern Bader will be held at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 28 at the Mancos First United Methodist Church. Pastor Craig Paschal will officiate.

Clay Vern Bader was born July 4, 1921 on the “old” Fort Lewis campus (where his father, Ernest Bader, was the college dean). He attended grade school at Fort Lewis and high school in Durango, living one year with the Ezera Needham family and the next three years with the Fred Kroeger family. He started college at Fort Lewis, where he met his future wife, Jean Kelly. Clay graduated from CSU (Colorado A&M). He was immediately inducted into the Navy and sent to Northwestern Midshipman School in Chicago. After that, further training was required at Harvard, where he sent for Jean and they were married in Melrose, Mass. in 1943. He was a communications lieutenant for the Command of the South Pacific for 18 months after that.

Upon returning to the States, he came to Mancos and began ranching with his in-laws, Mary and Ira Kelly. Here Clay and Jean ranched for 60 years, raised a family, and served their community. Clay’s service included having been elected Montezuma County Commissioner for two terms, during which time he and Bill Bauer secured the property that now hosts the Montezuma County Fairgrounds. He was also a member of the Mancos Masonic Lodge including Inspector General Honorary of the 33 degree in 2007, and Most Worshiper Master in 1956, 1984, 1985, and finally in 1993. Clay was also a lifelong member and president of Mancos Cattlemen’s Association, as well as president of Southwestern Livestock Association, twice awarded Man of the Year, and 50 year member. He had been inducted into the Fort Lewis College Athletic Hall of Fame in 1994 and was a president of the Fort Lewis College Alumni Board. Clay served 12 years as a member of the San Juan National Forest Advisory Board, and several years as chairman. He also was a member of the Mancos Water Conservancy District for 28 years, the Colorado State Groundwater Commission, and he served on the Federal Land Bank Board for 18 years, and as chairman several times. Clay also held membership with the Mesa Verde Museum Association for 15 years and chairman three times, and with the Escalante Shrine Club of the Al Kaly Shriners and served as past president.

Clay and Jean handed over the reins of the ranch to their son and daughter-in-law, Kelly and Randy, and began to focus solely on community and church service, and most importantly, their grandkids. They had new roles as babysitters and loved every minute of it. Along the way, Clay was a father and grandfather to many of his children’s and grandchildren’s friends.

Clay is survived by his wife of 68 years, Jean Kelly Bader of Mancos; and by his children, Margie Russell and husband Larry of Mancos and Kelly Clay Bader and wife Randy of Kim, Colo. Clay also leaves behind five grandchildren, Anna Gregory and husband John of Amarillo, Texas, Ira Bader of Kim, Erica Russell of Colorado Springs, Colo., Rachel Russell of Newport, Ore., and Kent Russell of Unalaska, Alaska; a great-grandson, Sage Bader of Kim; and his siblings, Margaret Crawford of Golden, Colo., Floy Singleton of Paonia, Colo., and Bill Bader of Spokane, Wash.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Ernest H. and Mary (Ames) Bader; and by his brother, Ames Bader.

Memorial contributions may be made in Clay Bader’s name to the Mancos Centennial Alumni Scholarship (MASA) 10453 Road 42, Mancos, CO 81328, or to Hospice of Montezuma, P.O. Box 740, Cortez, CO 81321.

Services are under the direction of Ertel Funeral Home. For further information or to send condolences, log on to and click on the obituary section.