On Tuesday, February 16th, 2021, Esequiel “Kelly” Lovato Jr. passed due to complications of surgery at the age of 77, he has peacefully joined his first wife Susan Lovato and son Domnick Martinez. He is survived by his wife Cleo Martinez, his brothers Raymond Lovato and Larry Lovato, his children Loretta Martinez, Jacovo Lovato, John “Thomas” Lopez, Solana Montoya, Lozano Lovato, 13 grandchildren, and 5 great grandchildren.
Kelly was born in Rocky Ford, CO on April 26th, 1943 where he worked with his family in the fields of the Arkansas Valley. After his father’s return from the Second Great War his family moved to Denver, his intellect and dedication propelled him to the University of Denver on an academic scholarship and later to the University of Colorado at Boulder. While pursuing his higher education, he felt that he had a higher calling as an activist in the Chicano Movement and co-founded The Crusade for Justice. During the mid-1960’s while social change was happening across the Country, Kelly also focused his activism in his own community. His work was instrumental in the creation of La Alma Recreation Center at Lincoln Park, where he worked for over 30 years and changed countless lives. His legacy is known throughout the state as he fostered one of Denver’s first tennis programs for underserved youth in the community. The sport gave youth an opportunity to learn and excel in a sport that had been inaccessible to their communities prior. On these inner-city tennis courts youth would not only learn to compete at a high level but would form fundamental values instrumental in their successes off the court. Kelly’s love, compassion and enthusiasm for tennis and the kids he taught earned him a place in the Colorado Tennis Hall of Fame in 1992 when he received the Arthur Ashe Award… the first to ever be awarded.
After retiring, Kelly remained in the community and continued his involvement with La Alma Recreation Center. Kelly would humbly carry himself as a symbol in the community and would always lead by example. He encouraged and stood for health, knowledge, perseverance, strength, humility, generosity and love. Kelly, graciously, lived the remainder of his years with his wife Cleo. As the patriarch of the family, he would provide the best advice and care to his children and grandchildren and loved seeing them grow and mature. As a pillar in the community, he was a source of knowledge and strength. Kelly was always willing to advocate for the needs of the community. As an avid sports fan, he loved watching the Denver Nuggets and Broncos. He never ceased to stay informed about the news or politics (even if it annoyed him sometimes). He loved to play golf because he said it was easier on his knees that were worn down from years on a tennis court. In his late years, he knew all things come to an end and prepared his spirit, and loved ones, with teachings from the Dali Lama, Eckhart Tolle, Deepak Chopra, and other great spiritual leaders. Most of all, he was never too busy to tell you he loved you and lived his life in love’s embrace...
Esequiel “Kelly” Lovato will forever be a legend in Denver, The Westside and in our hearts.
As per Kelly’s wishes there will not be any Services or Ceremonies at this time. He had expressed that family and friends should gather sometime in the future when all are able to safely travel in order celebrate and remember his life. If you are interested in being notified of any future plans please send your contact info to ZanoLovato@gmail.com
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