Cover photo for Kenneth Lee Soper's Obituary
Kenneth Lee Soper Profile Photo
1937 Coach 2023

Kenneth Lee Soper

November 23, 1937 — August 19, 2023

Dove Creek

Funeral services will be held for “Coach” Kenneth Lee Soper on Friday, August 25, 2023 at the Dove Creek High School gym at 10 a.m. Interment will follow at the Dove Creek cemetery where coach Soper will be laid to rest next to his beloved wife, Barbara. Visitation has been scheduled for Thursday, August 24, 2023 at Ertel Memorial Chapel, from 5-7 p.m. Please join the family after the interment at the Dolores County Fairgrounds to share a meal, stories and camaraderie.

Kenneth Lee Soper, fondly and widely known as “Coach”, was born to Alois and Alice Soper on November 23, 1937, in Caldwell, Kansas. He passed away peacefully on August 19, 2023, in Durango, Colorado at the age of 85. He was raised on a farm in Medford, Oklahoma and excelled in high school sports, participating in football, basketball, track and baseball. He made all-conference quarterback in football. He received his bachelor’s degree from Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Oklahoma and earned his master’s degree at the University of Montana. In order to pay for his college tuition, Kenneth raised and sold grand champion pigs.

After graduating from OSU, Kenneth served in the Air Force until coming to Colorado in 1960. His first teaching job was in Egnar, Colorado. The following year, Egnar and Dove Creek schools consolidated and Kenneth began his teaching and coaching career for the Bulldogs.

On July 1, 1971 he married the love of his life, Barbara. Kenneth gained two children from this marriage, Terri and Brad. The family lost Barb in 2000. It wasn’t just Kenneth coaching, it was a joint family effort. Barb was Kenneth’s official scorekeeper, team ice cream cake maker and was known affectionately as “team mom”. Terri and Brad learned every play he had by putting together his play books every year and he taught them everything there is to know about sports.

“Coach” became one of the most respected men in the State of Colorado in the many years to follow. In 2001, he was inducted into the Colorado High School Coaches Association Hall of Fame. In 2003, he was inducted into the National Coaches Hall of Fame and in 2008, he was inducted into the CHSAA Hall of Fame. In 2011, he was inducted into the Colorado Dugout Club Hall of Fame.

He holds the Colorado High School Football Coaches career records in most years as a head coach (46), most years as head coach at one school (46), has the 2nd most wins in Colorado football history and most consecutive games without a 15-yard penalty (449). His proudest record is the most consecutive games without a 15-yard penalty, which shows his truce character. He was a humble man who wasn’t concerned with records, he just wanted to coach the game and teach his players respect, accountability and how to carry those lessons forward into their adult lives.

As an educator, he earned the admiration and respect from his students and cared about each one, always challenging them to do their best and continue to learn.

As a coach, he dedicated his life to the community of Dove Creek. He never wavered in his standards and earned the title “Legend” throughout the State of Colorado. He loved coaching and teaching and continued to live his life with class at the end of his career. His life lessons continue to be passed down generations and he will have a lasting impact on all who knew him.

After his retirement he enjoyed golfing, Texas Hold’em and getting together with his close friends. He continued to support the Dove Creek Bulldogs from the infamous old crow’s nest.

He was known to pull his grandkids around in his wagon for hours and let each of them sit in his lap and control the steering wheel all around town. They all had fun putting on old uniforms and sports equipment and going to his practices. He left them with some wonderful memories.

Kenneth is survived by his daughter, Terri Rivers (Jim) of Elko, Nevada; son Brad Donelow of Rutledge, Tennessee; sister Marjorie Hybsha of Wakita, Oklahoma; sister-in-law Trudy Fuller of Yellow Jacket, Colorado; brothers-in-law Floyd Johnson and Bryce Capron of Dove Creek, Colorado; six grandchildren, Brandon Donelow, Trinity Donelow (Leslie), Erica Jerman (Jason), Dexter Rockwell, Billy Ray Howell (Jaqueline), and Shilo Messier (Michael); five great-grandchildren with two on the way, Taegan, Brantley, Tristen, Jase and Aksel; as well as many nieces, nephews, cousins and very close friends.

Kenneth was preceded in passing by his wife Barbara, his parents and his brothers, Leon and Donald.

In lieu of flowers, please make donations to the Harold Tanner Memorial Scholarship Fund at Vectra Bank in Cortez, Colorado.

Service Schedule

Past Services


Thursday, August 24, 2023

5:00 - 7:00 pm (Mountain time)

Get Directions

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Funeral Service

Friday, August 25, 2023

Starts at 10:00 am (Mountain time)

Dolores County High School

525 Main St, Dove Creek, CO 81324

Get Directions

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.


This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the
Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Service map data © OpenStreetMap contributors