John Covert

John Covert

1941 - 2024

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Obituary of John Covert

John Covert was born in Nampa, Idaho on March 24th, 1941, the youngest of three children. His father was a carpenter and mother a homemaker. He spent his childhood on a farm and had many adventures with his brother, George, who was 18 months older. John shared close relationships with his extended family, especially his cousins. John met his wife, Elaine Elizabeth Covert (Smith), in high school when she was 15 and he was 17. He graduated from Nampa High School in 1959 and graduated from the University of Idaho with a degree in architecture. He and Elaine married on September 15th, 1963. They moved to Lansing, Michigan where he studied urban planning at Michigan State University. Their son, John Charles Covert, was born in 1968. The family moved to Colorado Springs in 1970, where their daughter, Jennifer Ellen Covert, was born.  John would work for the City of Colorado Springs as a city planner and later as assistant to the City Manager as the city’s primary lobbyist at the state capital.

His second career focused on preserving open lands, and wildlife habitat and on increasing opportunities for renewable energy throughout Colorado.  He founded and directed Colorado Working Landscapes, an organization dedicated to creating coalitions of ranchers, developers, and recreationalists to preserve open space.  The organization connected ranchers with environmental conservationists to create conservation easements on private land that would preserve open space and reduce taxes to help family farms survive generational transfer.

An avid naturalist, he and his wife Elaine shared their love of backpacking, hiking, river rafting, fishing and Nordic skiing with friends and family. He and his brother shared a love of fly fishing, and John could often be found in his shop tying flies for annual fishing trips in Yellowstone and on the Green River with his brother, son, nephews and friends. 

John worked with many community groups to preserve the natural beauty of Colorado. In 1987 he helped found the Trails and Open Space Coalition because the region needed committed trail champions to protect and maintain trails and open space around Pike Peak and the surrounding foothills. He also played a role in the creation of Mueller State Park, which is located on the western side of Pikes Peak.  He was active in the Palmer Land Conservancy and he volunteered for 40 years with Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado as a trail builder, crew leader and camp kitchen worker.  He liked working in the camp kitchen because it was a chance to say hello to all the volunteers on the project.  He also worked to create Great Outdoors Colorado, a nonprofit organization funded by ticket sales of the Colorado Lottery which funds open space, parks, trails, and habitat restoration. A member of Trout Unlimited, he volunteered for the Denver chapter as a board member and as a volunteer for a youth program called Trout in the Classroom, where students care for trout eggs and release them after they have hatched.

In 1982, John and Elaine travelled to Nepal to go trekking for seven weeks.  They loved their experience there and John returned many times to work on water projects. In 2013, for their 50th wedding anniversary, they took their children and grandchildren to Nepal for three weeks to volunteer on a water use project to bring drinking and irrigation water to two villages.

Over his lifetime John created community wherever he went.  He was curious about people and loved to learn about them and find ways of connecting with them.  He was an optimist, always looking to the future, and a lifelong learner.  He was kind and thoughtful to all of us, especially to children. One of the many things he liked about the new SPUR campus was the outreach to youth in the community.

John died suddenly on May 10th, 2024, surrounded by his family. He is survived by his wife of 60 years, Elaine, son John (Julie) and his daughter, Jennifer (Mike Tinker). He built special, close relationships with all three of his grandchildren, Harrison, Gray and Colin who will miss him dearly. He was preceded in death by his beloved parents, Arnold and Fern Covert, sister Carol (Orville Hartman) and brother George (Delene). John lived a life well lived, and well loved.

“From the river bluffs where we have symbolically planted him, looking over the West that was his province, he can perhaps contemplate … the path of human motion… and with some confidence wait for the future to catch up with him.” – Wallace Stegner


His memorial service will be held on June 21st at 10:30AM at the CSU SPUR Campus Hydro Building, 4777 National Western Drive, Denver. To make a donation in John’s memory, Denver Trout Unlimited at or International Development Enterprises, the organization that John worked with to deliver water to villages in Nepal,


Memorial Service

10:30 am
Friday, June 21, 2024
CSU SPUR Campus Hydro Building
4777 National Western Drive
Denver, Colorado, United States