Paul Rowe Souder peacefully passed away surrounded by family and friends following a fall on August 17, 2023 and skied through the pearly gates. He was preceded in death by his wife, Kay in 2016 and by his parents, Paul and Alverta and sister, Ann. He is survived by his daughters and their families: Kate and Chuck Lancaster of Arcata, CA; Debbie and John Phillips of Durango, CO, Penny and Doug Whisler of Seattle Washington. He has 6 grandchildren and 13 great grandchildren. He also leaves behind many dear friends.
Paul was born on Sunday, June 29, 1930 in Boonville Missouri. He joined the US Navy as an Electronics Technician Seaman Recruit in 1950 and attended the US Naval Academy from 1950 - 1953. He returned to Missouri where he completed his degree in electrical engineering at The University of Missouri in 1955.
He met Kay in Columbia Missouri and they were married in New York on Friday, July 30 1954. His story is Kay came over to him as he was crying by the side of a pick-up football game after a fumble and comforted him. Paul and Kay bought a trailer and moved to Pennsylvania to accept a job with Westinghouse. They decided they didn’t want to live there. Paul had 3 job offers – in Missouri, Albuquerque, and San Diego. Towing the trailer with a 37 Buick they headed west. Missouri was too warm and humid, so they continued west. They got to Albuquerque in the middle of a dust storm and weren’t too impressed. However, someone mentioned Hobbie’s Mountain Ranch in Cedar Crest and after going up there, Kay said she could live there, so Paul started his 35-year career at Sandia National Laboratory as a systems engineer.
Paul was proud of the work he did at Sandia. He worked on ensuring the systems surrounding safety devices on nuclear weapons worked and was called upon in many situations to assess and recommend different measures.
Paul and Kay found a piece of land in Tijeras in 1959 that had a run-down 1-bedroom shack on it and a wonderful view of the Sandias. That first winter was tough, with snow blowing through the cracks, but it became a cozy place to live while Paul achieved one of his dreams. Paul and Kay built a much larger home at the top of the hill that had the same view of the Sandias as well as one of the Monzanos. For the next 20 years, they built the home by hand with help from family and friends. Using material salvaged from various places and flagstone from local quarries, Paul built a unique home he was proud of. He was quite excited when granddaughter Amanda bought the home -saying he loved that 3 girls would continue to enjoy the land.
Paul was introduced to skiing in 1962 and that quickly became another passion. He figured out a way to be able to afford to introduce the whole family to skiing by becoming a volunteer ski patroller at Sandia Peak in 1964, which he did for ~50 years. He recruited so many people into the ski patrol, helped them hone their skills and was actively involved in the ski swap. In the late 60s, after skiing at Purgatory, Paul approached the manager with an offer to represent Purgatory in Albuquerque. Many skiers knew Paul and Kay as they visited various clubs and businesses with updates and weather reports. The family made trips to Purgatory every other week with everything squeezed into a Volkswagon Squareback.
Paul continued to expand his contribution to skiing by becoming one of the first on-mountain mobile binding mechanics. Always interested in improving his skiing experience, Paul became a Certified Ski Instructor at Purgatory Ski Resort and participated in ski racing at other areas including Ski Santa Fe and Taos Ski Valley. After retiring from Sandia Labs, Paul started a branch of the rough-rider program modeled after Lito Tejada Flores’s teaching and shared his books and videos with senior skiers. His contribution to the ski industry was recognized when he was inducted into the New Mexico Ski Hall of Fame in 2013. Skiing was a huge part of Paul’s life and he loved the skiing community.
Paul maintained his physical activity and love of the outdoors by becoming an avid biker. He would often bike to and from work and put thousands of miles on his bikes – both road and mountain. He took the family on several mountain bike trips, which were enjoyed by all. He also became of the first mountain bike patrollers for the Cibola Forest service.
Paul was an avid reader and when Covid hit, the family started a monthly book club so we could stay in touch with each other.
The family would like to recognize Montebello (the independent living home where Paul resided for the last 5 years of his life). The residents and staff became part of his extended family. When he passed, he was serving as the Resident Council President. The care at Presbyterian Hospital and Hospice at Anna Kaseman helped make Paul’s final days comfortable and we thank all those who cared for him.
A Celebration of Life is planned on Saturday, October 14, 2023 from 2:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. at Equilibrium Wellness Center, 3901 Georgia ST NE, Building F in Albuquerque. Please bring an appetizer/dish to share. Donations to honor the memory of Paul’s well-lived life may be made to Cibola Trail Alliance or to the East Mountain Food Pantry in Tijeras.