Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Reporting from the St. George area focused on local government, public lands and the environment, indigenous issues and faith and spirituality.

Dell LeFevre, Garfield County Cowboy Known For Working With People Different Than Him, Dies At 80

A photo of Dell LeFevre riding a horse.
Courtesy of Amelia LeFevre
Boulder resident Dell LeFevre passed away on Sunday. He was a rancher and long-time county commissioner. His family said his motto was “cowboy up.”

Long-time Garfield County Commissioner and rancher Dell LeFevre passed away Sunday at the age of 80. In an era where political divisiveness seems like the norm, friends and family remembered him as a cowboy who spent his time reaching across the aisle.

Dell and his wife Gladys were married for 55 years and raised 14 adopted children in Boulder, Utah. His daughter, Amelia, said one of his iconic catchphrases was “cowboy up,” which is something the family is keeping alive in his memory.

“I think that what he would want us to do without him is to continue to carry on and ‘cowboy up’ through all these rough days that we're gonna have ahead,” she said. “And to remember him and his positive words and the way that he was always motivating us.”

A photo of Dell LeFevre.
Courtesy of Amelia LeFevre
Dell LeFevre was a county commissioner for several years but considered that to be his side job so he could be a rancher.

Dell’s popularity grew in the region thanks to his time serving as a county commissioner, but he considered that to be his side job so he could be a rancher. He served in the military and on his local school board. He was an active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and was a bishop in Boulder.

He was known to always wear a cowboy hat and boots and even though he was a cowboy through and through, Amelia said he was open-minded and had a warm personality.

Rep. Patrice Arent, D-Millcreek, said despite having a different background than Dell, they became good friends. She said he knew how to get along with any kind of person.

“He understood politics in a way that sometimes people don't — they don't see the other side,” Arent said. “But he understood politics and how to work in the system and how to get people to understand his perspective on an issue.”

Dell received national attention when he made a deal with environmental group Grand Canyon Trustto sell his grazing permits — something The New York Times said made both parties happy at the time.

His signature catchphrase also made it into a cookbook put out by Boulder’s famous Hell’s Backbone Grill. Seven of Dell’s children worked there and co-owner Blake Spalding said he was an important person in the small community.

Dell was a living hero of mine,” Spalding said. “And he always showed up with a larger than life kind of love for the people in his realm, whether it was his kids or his neighbors or the political people he worked across the aisle with. I just respected him and loved him very, very deeply. I'll miss him.

A funeral procession was scheduled to run from Panguitch to Boulder Wednesday morning along Scenic Highway 12 to honor the late cowboy.

Lexi is KUER's Southwest Bureau reporter
KUER is listener-supported public radio. Support this work by making a donation today.