Arlyn N. Sowards was born to George and Melvina Sowards on July 29, 1933, in Manassa, Colorado, the youngest of six children - five brothers and one sister.
He spent his early years learning to be a rancher and farmer on his father's farm.
He became an accomplished horseman, later turning his skill into a brief but successful stint as a rodeo cowboy specializing in saddle bronc and bareback riding.
He also began a lifelong love of the outdoors, becoming an expert hunter and fisherman.
When Arlyn was 18, he fell in love with Cynthia Layton, who was 15 at the time. After a brief courtship, followed by an elopement with another young couple, they married in Taos, New Mexico, on Nov. 25, 1951, thus beginning a relationship that endured for nearly 70 years.
They returned to their parent's homes in Manassa after the ceremony, neglecting to inform them of their new matrimonial status.
Shortly after their marriage, Arlyn began his career as a Border Patrolman working in California. He later transferred to Customs and Immigration and moved to Malone, New York.
In 1971, Arlyn accepted a position in Northport, Washington, where he worked until his retirement, ending a 36-year career.
Arlyn's talent as a horseman and trainer was reawakened in Northport. He took several of his mounts to national recognition, one of them becoming a national champion in several disciplines.
His horses were so good that local competitors would not enter a contest if they knew Arlyn was competing.
Arlyn's athletic talent was not limited to horsemanship. He was an accomplished basketball player, snow and water skier, and track athlete.
Even though Manassa was a small town, the high school had a track team that was only held back by their lack of a track and a coach. Arlyn and a few of his high school peers started a team, along with a reluctant English teacher as the coach.
Surprisingly they were able to make it into the district meet, where Arlyn won a trip to the state championships in the 440 yard race (equivalent to the 400 meter contest that is now the standard).
Upon arriving at the state meet, Arlyn noted that a competitor in his race was featured on the local sports page as being a shoe-in to break the state record. He went to his "coach" for advice and was told to try to stay with the favorite for as long as he could.
At race time, Arlyn wished his rival luck, receiving a cold stare in return.
The race started and Arlyn carefully followed his coach's brilliant plan until they reached the mid-point, deciding then that he could go faster than the pace being set by his rival. He accelerated, passing him and finishing in state record time.
His record stood for a decade, until being broken by one of his nephews.
Arlyn possessed a powerful intellect.
He was a great chess player, a voracious reader and a master guitarist and banjo player.
had a remarkable singing voice, a talent honed by his frequent participation with his brothers and sister in providing local dance music when he was growing up in Manassa.
Arlyn was a charismatic and people-oriented man of integrity who made his community a better place. He never turned down a request for help or service from anyone in need.
His thoughtful, intuitive advice was sought after by his many friends.
Arlyn was a lifelong member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, where he was known for his hard work and faithful participation in his callings, and for performing service work for his community.
Arlyn and Cyndy were sealed in the Mesa, Arizona LDS Temple on March 24, 1967.
Arlyn is survived by his wife, Cynthia; their four children and spouses, (Loretta (David Wilson), Clayton, Washington, Dave, Fairbanks, Alaska, Dean (Brenda) Phoenix, Arizona, and Brooks (Dee), Cheney, Washington; and also their 15 grandchildren and 29 great-grandchildren.
An outdoor memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. on Oct. 1, 2021, at the Northport City Park. Masks and social distancing are recommended.
Flowers and cards should be sent to the Sowards' home at 4623 Mitchell Road, Northport, WA 99157.
The service will be conducted by the Lauer Funeral Home in Deer Park, 509-276-7000, 204 N. Main, Deer Park, WA 99006.
To view and sign Arlyn's online guestbook, please visit www.lauerfuneral.com.
Published by The Statesman Examiner from Sep. 28 to Sep. 29, 2021.