Ben McClelland was born in St. Anthony’s hospital on September 5, 1956, to Skip and Roselle McClelland. He became a resident of this county only 3 weeks later. After high school, he went to CMC and received a degree in farm and ranch management and then return to the county to assist his father in the surveying business. It was not until he was helping a lawyer on a family lawsuit that he realized his interest in the law. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in 1990 and his Juris Doctorate in 1994. He practiced law in Colorado and Wyoming. In 2007 he took his seat as Grand County’s judge where he remained until 2014. Just recently he returned to judicial duties as a municipal judge for Hot Sulphur Springs and Kremmling.
These are the simple facts of Ben’s life that explain who he was but not what he was. His love for this country and its water was honed over years of surveying every inch of its ground and mapping the headwaters of its streams and rivers. He chased irrigation water on his meadows and watched as water and land merged to create miracles. He was an avid reader fueled by his passion for history and the law. He knew that both where living things that grew and changed each day and therefore would impact our lives and the lives of our children.
He was honored to be a judge in Colorado and felt the only way the system could work and evolve was through hard work from all of us. He felt the heart of the court system was the people on the juries that put aside their lives to take on someone else’s worries. He was always so appreciative of the dedicated and honest people that served on them. He always strived to make his jurors feel comfortable, safe, enlighten, and appreciated.
He loved roping and rodeo partly because of the challenges and the skill involved but mostly because of the people that he shared it with. He believed every kid should have a hobby that included at least one animal and more if possible. He knew experiencing life and the hard realities of death were best understood through and with our animals. He believed dogs and horses were partners not possessions and treated them as such. He respected and cherished those that mentored him and he continued that legacy of mentorship by helping anyone that crossed his path.
Ben found peace without the burden of a full-time judgeship and spent more time with his posse of dogs and the love of his life Stephanie.
Ben’s material roots run deep in Colorado, even before it was a state and will not stop at his death. Those that are related by blood or love this state as he did will carry on. Ben died way too young but we have only lost him if we do not continue the stewardship of future generation and resources of this country that we love.
Ben was survived by his mother Roselle, his sisters Cheryl and Kim, niece Michelle, nephew Justin, cousins Jackie and Susie. He considered a fair amount of his colleagues and friends family as well.
In place of flowers please support the county’s 4H program.
A celebration of life will be held on May 21st at the Flying heels arena at 11 am.