David Earl Sorensen
It is a cliché to say that David Earl Sorensen rode off into the sunset on Feb. 24, 2020. Yet it is the only way to talk about the death of this man from the rangeland. He left us just a few weeks after moving to Salt Lake City and leaving the waterfront home he loved so much in Snead’s Ferry, North Carolina.
David was a man of the rangeland. He was raised by his idol, his grandfather Charles Earl Jensen, a sheepherder who possessed the same unlikely combinations as did Dave. Dave had the strength and grit that you need on the rangeland—physically strong for the whole of his 86 years, and unflinching character.
In spite of his toughness, Dave had an exquisite gentleness toward the forgotten child, the migrant worker, the person who wasn’t getting a fair shake. Like his grandpa Charlie, if you messed with the unfortunate, or with any of his kids, he would “mop the earth with you.” You don’t mess with a man or his kin on the rangeland, and you look after those who need your protection.
Even as he rose to success in upper management, he remained a man of the range. People who worked for him will talk for the rest of their lives about what they learned from him, how much they respected him, and their sense of loyalty toward him. Funny how a tough guy from the range can make you feel so safe. Funny how a guy who teaches us that authority isn’t always right, that you have to discover respect within yourself, could also make your world when he told you that he respected you, that he thinks you are one-in-a-million.
We will carry those moments of basking in his acceptance forever. Yes, he could sling a 100-pound bag of feed all day long, but his real strength was how he made people feel important.
The moral compass of the rangeland is mighty comprehensive. What might seem contradictory fits perfectly once you know your true North. You can fight to keep your childhood sweetheart at home so you can be the provider, and still be an advocate for women in the workplace, and equal pay for women. Some things change—even you can change—but what’s right is right. Married as teens, you kept it together for 67 years in a storybook romance to the end.
You dined in fine restaurants in major cities around the world, Dave—but to us you will always be the man of the range, a freezer full of meat, your legendary Dutch oven, having whiskey after dinner. We hope that now you are home—on the range.
David was the son of Veone Jensen Brown and Frank Sorensen born on Dec. 18, 1933; husband to Marilyn Seely, and father to seven children: Kathryn Blackham, David Allan Sorensen, Carolyn Harrop, Lori Miller, Brenda Scott, Teresa Yates and Angie Kissack. He is survived by many grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great grandchildren who loved him dearly.
A celebration of David’s life will be held in the summer (Dave hated winter). We will let you know the time and place. We look forward to celebrating this extraordinary man of the rangeland.