Cover photo for Samuel Rea Jewell's Obituary
1937 Samuel 2024

Samuel Rea Jewell

November 19, 1937 — March 4, 2024

Samuel Rea Jewell was born on November 19, 1937 and passed away on March 4, 2024. He was a longtime resident of Abiquiu, NM. Samuel Rea Jewell died peacefully at home on March 4, 2024, with his wife Isabel and his three daughters by his side. 

Sam was born to Anne Rea and Pliny Jewell Jr. on November 19, 1937, in Boston, Massachusetts. Along with his older brother, Pliny and older sister Diana, Sam was raised in Concord, Massachusetts. He attended Fenn School, Milton Academy, and Harvard College with a two year stint serving in the US Marine Corps. Important formative experiences of his youth included time spent with his great uncle, George B. Junkin of Gladwyne, PA, developing his affinity for conservation, nature, hunting, and fishing.

Sam met his first wife and love, Sheila Balding in March 1962; they married in June 1962. They moved to Amherst for Sam to attend UMass Amherst and earn an MS in Biology. They moved to Loveland, CO with Sabrina, their first born and in 1965 Jennifer, their second daughter arrived. In May of 1972, Sam earned not only his PhD in Wildlife Biology from Colorado State University, Fort Collins, but also welcomed a third daughter, Flora. His research on mule deer introduced him to the Western Slope of Colorado, where he and Sheila fell in love with an old homestead cabin which became their second home for many years. After a short time at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, the Jewells settled back in Colorado on Lookout Mountain. During their many years in Colorado, Sam used his degrees in Wildlife Biology and Solar Engineering as a land restoration advocate, a State of Colorado Water Board Commissioner, and as an unflagging activist to understand and mitigate the impacts of pine beetle damage in Colorado. 
In 1985, Sam and Sheila undertook one of their many great adventures as founders and board members along with Sheila’s brother, Sam’s adored brother-in-law, Ivor David Balding, of the one-ring traveling European-style circus, Circus Flora. In time, Sam’s board leadership helped to establish the circus as a respected 501c3 in St. Louis, MO. 

Sam and Sheila retired to Beaufort, SC in 1990 where they were both involved in the community, including building the second Planned Parenthood clinic in South Carolina, and involvement with the local arts community, the Medical University of South Carolina, and coastal conservation. As avid outdoors people, Sam and Sheila enjoyed hiking, camping, hunting, fishing, and land care wherever they were. 

After Sheila’s passing in 1998, Sam met the second love of his life, Isabel Ewing. They were married in May 1999. In 2002 they serendipitously found their next home in Abiquiu, a small farm along the Chama River. In Santa Fe and Abiquiu, NM, Sam and Isabel have been active supporters of the Santa Fe Opera, the Boys and Girls Clubs Del Norte, the New Mexico Democratic Party, among other community endeavors, and Sam worked tirelessly to build and support the Abiquiu Volunteer Fire Department. Sam and Isabel loved life at La Joya de Chama (their name for their farm) where they entertained many friends and family. Sam loved cutting his 10 acres of alfalfa and timothy hay on his John Deere tractor, caring for his fruit trees and wine grapes, making wine, dabbling in woodworking, and sharing life with numerous farm animals and family pets. Sam and Isabel loved traveling together for family, fishing, friends, and great food starting with their honeymoon in the South of France, and over the years fly fishing and adventuring to British Columbia and Quebec, Canada, Belize, Italy, among other destinations. At the age of 80, Sam was pleasantly surprised by how much he loved a trip Isabel organized for them together to South Africa. In 2019 Sam and Isabel enjoyed a cruise on the Danube River with their children, nieces and nephew. 

Sam was a life-long fly fisher and shared this passion with all of their six grandchildren. He was a believer in democracy, diversity, and inclusion both in nature and society. He was a devoted husband, father, grandfather, community leader and loyal friend. He had a radiant smile, beautiful singing voice, and a tremendously generous nature. He was a role model and mentor to many and a believer in creating positive change. 

Sam is survived by his wife Isabel Ewing Jewell, daughters Sabrina Jewell (Kirk Bogard), Jennifer Jewell (John Whittlesey), Flora Jewell-Stern (Eric Stern), grandchildren, Madison Jewell Bogard, Wesley Jewell Bogard (Sarah Staton Bogard), Delaney Jewell Simchuk, Flannery Jewell Simchuk, Sheila Jewell Stern, William Jewell Stern, his siblings Diana Jewell Bingham and Pliny Jewell III, as well as many nieces and nephews. 

Sam was preceded in death by his first wife Sheila Balding Jewell, as well as his parents Anne Rea Jewell and Pliny Jewell Jr. The family wishes to express special thanks to Dr. Fernando and Maria Bayardo, Alberto Vasquez, Maria Perez, Martha Avila, Ana Morales, Celina and Marcos Villalba, and Tess Salazar. 

The family is holding a Celebration of Life at home in Abiquiu in early April 2024. For details, please contact 

In lieu of flowers, Sam asked that donations be made to Abiquiu Volunteer Fire Department, Presbyterian Healthcare Foundation, New Mexico, or the Lensic Performing Arts Center.

If you want to honor Sam, get out there and enjoy the world, volunteer, donate, vote and make the world a better place. Just like Sam did. 

Abiquiu Fire Protection District - Main Station 
Address 88 County Road 187 Abiquiu, New Mexico, 87510 
Phone 505-685-4088

The family of  Samuel Jewell has entrusted the care of their loved one to DeVargas Funeral Home of the beautiful Espanola Valley. 505-747-7477
To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Samuel Rea Jewell, please visit our flower store.


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