Roger Merle Thorp

October 9, 1946April 28, 2019

Known for his philosophy of gentle architecture, Roger Merle Thorp died peacefully with family by his side on Sunday, April 28, 2019 in the home he designed and built. He leaves a legacy of designs not only in Estes Park, but throughout Colorado, 15 other states, and two Canadian provinces. Roger was an award-winning architect for 47 years having selected Estes Park to set up his practice in 1976, just months before the Big Thompson Canyon Flood. He was a member of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards and a LEED Accredited Professional. He was respected by his peers who selected him as the 2010 AIA Colorado North Chapter “Architect of the Year”. While all of his projects and over 40 awards were important to him, he was especially proud when local projects were honored. Examples of these include private residences, RMNP Fall River Visitor Center, Estes Park Conference Center, Community Church of the Rockies Outdoor Chapel, Performance Park Pavilion, and the sandstone Estes Park “Gateway” sign that greets visitors on US Hwy 36. A smile always came to his face seeing the many visitors taking photos of his unique design with the majestic mountaintops as its backdrop. While proud of and committed to his profession and clients, Roger was even more rewarded by and devoted to his family and church. He was born in Clay Center, KS on October 9, 1946 and with two brothers was raised on a farm in the Alida community along the Republican River in Geary County, KS. It was there he learned to work hard and find satisfaction in that work. He learned life skills through participation in youth fellowship, 4-H, music, and athletics. He met his lifelong partner and wife Verlene (Holdsworth) as a freshman at Dickinson County Community High School (DCCHS), Chapman, KS and married her on December 22, 1966 in Buckeye, KS. Roger attended Bethany College in Lindsborg, KS where he played varsity football and sang in the Concert Choir and Messiah Festival. He then transferred to Kansas State University in Manhattan, KS to study architectural design. While there he was awarded a National Endowment for the Arts Scholarship for Independent Study, was a member of the Tau Sigma Delta Honor Society in Architecture and sang with the Varsity Men’s Glee Club and Concert Choir. Upon graduating with honors, earning a Bachelor of Architecture degree and a minor in Art in 1970, he was hired as project architect with Keith Ames Architect in Longmont, CO. In 1972 he and Verlene built their home overlooking Crescent Lake in Pinewood Springs and raised their two sons there. As a family they enjoyed hiking, skiing, sledding, and many family trips together. His hobbies were reading, music, pencil drawing and watercolors. He loved the character of dry laid stone and built with it as often as he could. He had a passion for the historic stone courthouses of Kansas which he traveled the state to document. He would also drive out of his way to photograph Carnegie libraries. AIA Colorado regularly invited him to show his artwork at its annual Art for Architects exhibition and he served as Jurist for the AIA Young Architect Awards. His artwork is exhibited in the Prairie PastTimes Gallery in Cottonwood Falls, KS. He loved running and was a multi-year medalist in both the Rocky Mountain Senior Games and State of Colorado Games. Music was a significant part of his entire life, both for enjoyment and participation. He was known for his tenor voice which he shared generously. He always accepted when asked to perform in local benefits like Estes Park Sings, It’s Showtime, Salute to America, Veterans Monument and Crossroads Ministry. He was a soloist with the Estes Park Oratorio Society, sang in the Men’s Chorus, church choirs, and most recently, The Uncommon Connection vocal quartet. Roger donated countless hours to improving the Estes Park community whether for the Arts, his church, Crossroads Ministry, Boy Scout Troop 8, Rotary or championing the need for childcare. He was a ruling elder in the Presbyterian Community Church of the Rockies where he served on many committees and as Middle School youth leader. He also designed the church’s Columbarium, Outdoor Chapel, and Shelter. As a member of The Rotary Club of Estes Park, he served as chair of the Scholarship and Community Service Committees and is a Paul Harris Fellow. The family participated in the Rotary Foreign Exchange Program and hosted several Rotary Foreign Exchange Students. For exhibiting Service Above Self, he was awarded Rotarian of the Year for 2018. He was a charter member of the Estes Park Habitat for Humanity Board and served on the Estes Valley Development Code and the Stanley Historical District advisory boards. He was a supporter of the Fine Arts Guild of the Rockies and the Cultural Center of Estes Park, and currently was serving as a director of the Estes Park Economic Development Corporation. In recognition of his accomplishments and civic involvement, he was named the 2013 DCCHS Meritorious Graduate. Roger was preceded in death by his parents, Leslie and Rebecca Thorp, two infant siblings and older brother Loren. He is survived by wife Verlene, sons Erinn (Nicole) Thorp of Atlanta, GA, and Christopher (Rebecca) of Loveland, CO, grandchildren Adison and Aidian Thorp of Loveland, CO and Camille and Owen Thorp of Atlanta, GA, brother Robert (Deborah) Thorp of Deadwood, SD, brothers-in-law Eugene (Gloria) Holdsworth of Lindsborg, KS and Dean (Janice) Holdsworth of Abilene, KS, aunts Iva Lewis of Greeley, CO and Zelma Funston of Lawrence, KS. He was admired for his creativity, gentle and kind spirit, integrity and humility. In memory and honor of Roger, donations may be made to the Presbyterian Community Church of the Rockies Foundation, The Rotary Club of Estes Park Foundation, or the Bobby Rifkin Endowed Chair in Prostate Cancer Research at the University of Colorado Anschutz Cancer Center, all in care of Allnutt Funeral Service at 1302 Graves Avenue, Estes Park, CO 80517. A memorial service will be held Friday May 17, 2019 at 11:00 AM at Presbyterian Community Church of the Rockies in Estes Park.


  • Presbyterian Community Church of the Rockies
  • The Rotary Club of Estes Park
  • The Bobby Rifkin Endowed Chair in Prostate Cancer Research at the University of Colorado Anschutz


  • Memorial Service Friday, May 17, 2019


Roger Merle Thorp

have a memory or condolence to add?

Ann Giesick

May 20, 2019

My heartfelt sympathy in your loss. I had the privilege as an employee of the Eaton Public Library and Windsor(Clearview) Public Library working with Roger on the projects he did for both libraries. He was always willing to listen to any concerns or ideas staff may have had. He always was so upbeat. God Bless you with many happy memories in the difficult days ahead. God Bless you and your family. In His Love Ann Marie Giesick

Erik Hartronft

May 19, 2019

Verlene and family, I was saddened to hear of Roger's passing. He was a great architect whom I admired and respected. I am fortunate for the times I was able to work with Roger and his team. Estes Park, and other communities, will benefit from his legacy long into the future. I enjoyed getting to know you and Roger and share our Kansas roots. Blessings to you and your entire family.

Alex Kohav

May 10, 2019

Dear Verlene, Chris, and the entire extended Thorp family,

While our grief regarding Roger's passing cannot possibly compare with yours', Julia and I feel immensely sad, with tears coming up to our eyes. I don't think we ever mentioned it to Roger, but he resembled Julia's dad in his gentle, wise demeanor and obvious talents. Julia didn't miss a single appointment---except the very last one, a week before last Christmas---because she sensed the specialness of this special man.

Yes, it seems that we were the very last architectural client of Roger. . .

May you all find strength in the memories you have of Roger.

We will be planning to attend the memorial service.

Alex and Julia Kohav

susan jessup

May 10, 2019

My Dear Verlene, I want to thank you for taking the time to contact me with so much on your mind and heart.

I have thought of you and Roger so many times since I heard that he was diagnosed. When I received your email this morning, my body sagged with sadness. I loved Roger. I will never forget his patience with me when we worked together on The Heritage. He heard my concern about the building being too grand with the ceiling too high, and he patiently went about making adjustments to his final plans. What a guy! The Heritage at Sylvan Dale continues to be admired by our guests—a tribute to a great architect, a kind and sensitive man, and good friend.

Susan Jessup
Sylvan Dale Ranch


May 9, 2019

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted. So sorry for your family's loss. Be comforted that Roger was loved and admired by many. He, John Lennon, and I, shared a birthday.

Judy K Peoples

May 9, 2019

Arlene... sending my condolences. I was shocked when I stumbled on the news of Roger's passing. May you find peace and comfort in those that surround you.

Judy Koehler-Peoples

May 9, 2019

My condolences to Arlene and their 2 sons. Roger was a great man. I knew him in the 80's when I lived in Estes and attended the Presbyterian Church and worked at the Holiday Inn while he was designing the Conference Center. Very sad news. May you find comfort and peace in those that surround you.

Tom & Sue Dority

May 9, 2019

Dear Verlene and family:

We admired Roger so much during the few years we knew him. His many talents -- artistic, architectural, and musical -- were rare and combined for a most charming fellow to know and work with.

We miss him and wish that you will find serenity with your family and many friends soon.

Leslie Tyson

May 8, 2019

I enjoyed working with Roger and his team any time I could. Many fond memories.

Prayers for comfort, peace, and grace to you, Verlene, and your family.


Marilyn Maher

May 8, 2019

Dear Verlene and Famuly,
Tom and I are so saddened at the news of Roger’s death. He was a great member of our community.
Marilyn and Tom