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April 3, 1941 - August 27, 2014
If your hands illustrate the story of your life, Les Guttmann's tell one of hard work. Whether patrolling the streets of the Grand Valley or repairing the air conditioner at home, Les was one of those people who rarely sat down and always believed in a job well done. He spent his entire life taking care of others, from the citizens of Grand Junction to his wife and kids to his house full of pets.
Les was born in Los Angeles, CA on April 3rd, 1941. His parents, Swanhilda and Norman Guttmann, made their home in the City of Angels when the area was mainly orange groves and family farms. Les was an only child who grew up in a simple time without television or modern conveniences. He often told stories of listening to evening radio programs and driving his family's two Model A Fords. He loved Elvis Presley and played baseball as a child.
After high school graduation, Les went to East Los Angeles Junior College for two years and then joined the Air Force, where he worked as an airplane mechanic. It was this experience that helped him to establish a love of country and patriotism that was evident for his entire life.
Les joined the Los Angeles Police Department, Rampart Division in 1968. By then LA had grown to be one of the largest cities in the country and Les helped to police some of its most frightening areas. During this time, Les met the love of his life, Dee. Although they grew up only three blocks apart in Montebello, they never met as kids. Les and Dee were married in 1974. Together they partnered to raise four children: David, Michael, Tracy and John.
The Guttmann family moved to Grand Junction in 1980, where Les joined the police department as an officer and worked his way up to serve as a detective. For 30 years, he patrolled the streets of the Grand Valley, investigating major crimes and working to make our community stronger and safer. Later in his career, Les specialized in crime scene investigation. Like a real life Sherlock, he could analyze everything from arson to homicide and had a knack for understanding human behavior. The stories he told about his years in law enforcement and criminals made network television seem very boring by comparison.
Outside of work, Les spent time with his children, teaching them to work hard and enjoy the activities surrounding their home. His kids tell stories of swimming, fishing and camping, working on cars and playing baseball. As a family, they often played games together like spoons - a dangerous endeavor in its own right. Les also loved the annual JUCO baseball tournament every spring. We joke that he knew almost everybody in town, which made it difficult to get back to your seat when you went to the concession stand with him.
His son, John, says, "My dad was one of the most naturally intelligent men I've ever met." And his intellect was evident in a variety of ways. Les was a Trivial Pursuit whiz, spent years analyzing and predicting fluctuations in the stock market and could pretty much fix anything. Later in life, he became a technophile who could build a computer from scratch. He also was a self-taught auto mechanic who could easily explain the inner workings of his Cadillac's brakes or help his son rebuild the engine of his first motorcycle. He had a garage full of tools, and tools to fix the other tools, and he knew how to use all of them. We're not sure that he ever hired a handyman or lawn job. More recently, Les was also an avid reader. During his two years of retirement, it is estimated that he read upwards of 1000 books on his Kindle.
Les will be remembered for many things, such as his witty nature and dry sense of humor. A cross between Santa Claus and bullhorn, his laugh was loud and distinctive. Over the last couple of years, he was really happy and lived his life to the fullest. He adopted a scraggly, rambunctious puffball affectionately called "The Barn," as well as a small herding dog named Ginger. He helped Dee to run her law practice and even provided a neighborhood security service. He enjoyed spending time with his two youngest grandchildren, Asher and Ellis, watching them learn to walk and talk.
A celebration of Les' life will be held at Callahan-Edfast Mortuary on Wednesday, September 3rd at 1:00 p.m. It will be followed by a Military Honor Guard ceremony at Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Grand Junction at 3:00 p.m.
In lieu of flowers or gifts, please donate to The Wounded Warrior Project at www.woundedwarriorproject.org. A nonprofit dedicated to honoring and empowering injured service men and women, it was a cause that Les cared about and supported.
Callahan-Edfast Mortuary & Crematory Inc
2515 Patterson Rd Grand Junction, CO 81505
Published in The Daily Sentinel on Aug. 31, 2014