Dale Edward Pontius
1941 - 2020
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DALE EDWARD PONTIUS Dale Edward Pontius passed away on February 3, 2020 after a long and courageous battle with Alzheimer's disease. Dale was born in his childhood home in Fort Wayne Indiana on July 20, 1941 to Vearl O. and Emma Pontius, the fourth of six children. Dale graduated from North Side High School in 1959 and from Indiana University with a Bachelor's degree in 1963 and a Master's in Government in 1965. Dale served in the United States Air Force from 1964 - 1970 as an officer and an F-4 pilot, completing 140 combat missions during the Vietnam War. Dale fulfilled his military commitment as a Captain and instructor pilot, earning eleven air medals for excellence in flight. Dale was always troubled by the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War and this experience solidified his lifelong commitment to political and environmental activism. Dale assisted in founding and serving as President of the Lubbock, Texas chapter of the ACLU. He then went on to attend law school at the University of Arizona College of Law, where he graduated with distinction as a member of the Order of the Coif in 1973. Throughout his career, Dale made a major impact on the environment, particularly in the Southwestern United States, the mountains and rivers being his one true love. Notably, Dale worked as an Assistant Attorney General for the state of Arizona, as Governor Bruce Babbitt's principal policy advisor, as staff counsel to Congressman Morris Udall's House Subcommittee on Energy and the Environment, and as the Associate Solicitor for Land and Water Resources in the Department of the Interior during the Clinton Administration. Dale was particularly proud of his work on developing the groundwater law for the state of Arizona in an effort to curb overuse, and on the Land Use and Resource Conservation Act of 1975, co-sponsored by Congressman Morris Udall. Dale later worked as the Vice President of Conservation for American Rivers, a non-profit organization in Washington, D.C., and he retired from public service as an Associate Solicitor for the Department of the Interior in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he oversaw the legal matters regarding environmental protection for the Southwest region. Dale was instrumental in protecting the Aravaipa Canyon Preserve while he was President of the Tucson chapter of the Nature Conservancy. He took his daughters there regularly to enjoy the beauty of Aravaipa and Turkey Creek. In 1990 Dale received the Oak Leaf Award, the Nature Conservancy's highest recognition for volunteer service. In his later years, Dale was actively involved with the New Mexico Environmental Law Center in Santa Fe, serving as Chairman in 2007. Throughout his life, Dale generously gave his time, talent and resources to a variety of not-for-profit entities that he served well. Other defining moments in Dale's life included successfully assisting with the reunification of a Vietnamese family in 1989 that had been separated for seven years by the Vietnamese government. Dale returned to Vietnam in the 2000's with Veterans for Peace, a nonprofit organization of military veterans seeking to build a culture of peace and an end to all war, allowing closure on his earlier military career. Dale will be lovingly remembered and greatly missed by his family and lifelong friends for his incredible intellect, charm, and subtle humor. Dale never boasted of his amazing accomplishments, of which there were many. His desire to preserve and protect the environment through political process was unwavering and inspiring. But Dale will also be remembered as he was when he was happiest - fly fishing or hiking with his beloved dog, Pablo. One of Dale's favorite quotes, as it represented his political beliefs throughout his life, "The moral test of Government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life - the children; those who are in twilight of life - the elderly; and those in the shadow of life - the sick, the needy, and the handicapped." - Hubert Humphrey. Dale is survived by his three daughters, Sally (Walden) Browne, Nancy Pontius, and Claire (Cameron) Oseran Radon; five grandchildren, Nicoletta Browne, Alexander Browne, Lena Joy Radon, Jackson Radon, and Fiona Radon; his brother, Earl (Jill) Pontius; his sisters, Carole Keller, Judith (Charles) Tittemore, and Sharon (David) Peters; numerous loving nieces and nephews; and his lifelong friend from childhood, John Johnson. Dale was loved and admired by all who knew him and he will be forever loved and missed by his family and friends. A private family gathering will take place at a later date. Dale's family asks that anyone wishing to make a contribution in his honor, please consider the Nature Conservancy of Arizona or the New Mexico Environmental Law Center in Santa Fe. To leave condolences, please visit www.klaehnfahlmeltonfunerals.com

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Published in Santa Fe New Mexican from Feb. 14 to Feb. 16, 2020.
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Memories & Condolences
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4 entries
February 17, 2020
Dale had great influence on many people who came within his orbit. His passion for the environment and the well being of people are a legacy that he leaves. God Speed my friend and we will meet up on a river somewhere in the future.
david Wegner
February 16, 2020
Dale was a wonderful brother and my best friend throughout my life. He lived his beliefs but never imposed them upon others. By setting the bar high, but in a quiet manner, others followed. Although Dale had high expectations of everyone, he loved unconditionally. My life is filled with amazing memories of times with Dale. We shared so much that it will be difficult to not have his presence going forward. He will always be my role model for life and he will be loved and remembered by me for as long as I live.
February 16, 2020
I was a classmate of Dale in our youth in Fort Wayne at Forest Park and North side and enjoyed those years. My sympathies to his family and my thanks for sharing his
worthy activities through his life. I wish
I had been able talk to him during that time.
Chuck Clauss
February 16, 2020
I worked with Dale in Washington DC at DOI during the Clinton Administration. He was a great lawyer capably and thoughtfully representing the office of Assistant Secretary Land and Minerals. I truly enjoyed working with him and I am so sorry to hear of his passing. RIP

Sylvia V Baca
Assistant Secretary ASLM (Clinton Administration)
Sylvia Baca
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