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Leon Uriarte, age 89, passed away on March 22, 2013, in Scottsdale, Arizona.
He was born in Mountain Home, Idaho, on November 6, 1923 to Sebastiana Odriosola and Justo Uriarte. When Leon was still a youngster, the Uriarte family relocated to Park City, Utah, where Leon was raised and remained for most of his life. Leon graduated from Park City High School in 1942 where he played football and basketball for the Park City Miners.
Leon joined in the U. S. Navy in 1943. He was stationed in the Pacific Islands during World War II and was honorably discharged in 1946.
Leon married Barbara Elaine Tessman on September 21, 1946, and they had three children. Barbara passed away from complications following heart surgery in 1959. Leon married Colleen Weaver in 1960 (later divorced). They had one son.
In 1970, Leon married Thelma Dorka and a step-son was added to the family. Over the years, Leon lived and worked in Park City until moving to Salt Lake in 1992. Leon and Thelma enjoyed the winter months in Mesa, Arizona, but Leon was always anxious to get back home to his family in Salt Lake when spring arrived.
Leon was devoted to his family and after the death of his first wife, he took a job as the Head Custodian at the Marsac Elementary and later the Park City High School. This job afforded him the opportunity to watch over his children (and eventually a grandchild) and allowed him to keep his thumb on the pulse of their activities (not always a good thing!). After the children had graduated, Leon took a job as Maintenance Supervisor with Park City Municipal Corp. where he worked until his retirement.
Leon was not only devoted to his family but also to his community. He served as a Councilman and Planning Commissioner for Park City for 16 years and was elected Mayor of Park City in 1975. His years in public service spanned the early years of the ski and development boom in Park City and he was influential and instrumental in the formation and approval of Park City's first Master Plan.
Leon was also very active in the Park City Elks Club #734 and served as their Exalted Ruler at one time.
Leon was an extraordinarily skilled carpenter and worked nights and weekends to help support his family. Remodels, roofs, tile and stone work, you name it – he could do it. Over the span of several years, he worked on the never ending upkeep of the St. Mary's of the Assumption Catholic church and helped to rebuild it after it burned a second time in the 1950s. Leon was always generous with his time and would help those who needed him…especially little old ladies with leaks or household problems. Of course after completing their necessary repairs, you could generally find him sipping a cool drink and visiting with them on their front porches.
Leon was at heart a family man. He was happiest when surrounded by family. Leon spent as much time as possible with his parents and siblings. As he and his siblings married and the Uriarte family grew, Leon looked forward to the annual family reunion held in the City Park and later at his sister Mary's home each summer. He was tirelessly devoted to the raising of his children, much of the time as a single father. Leon was a doting grandfather. He took great pleasure in engaging with and playing with his grandchildren, and later his great-grandchildren, loving nothing more than eliciting a laugh or a smile. He was beloved by them all for his warm, loving, and fun-loving manner.
Leon loved to dance and had the ability to make people laugh. He was an avid fly fisherman and hunter, passing along his knowledge and his love of the great outdoors to his children and grandchildren. A humble man, he lived his life "in the moment" and made us feel special and appreciated whenever we were with him. With his blue eyes sparkling, he always urged us to "Keep Smiling" when it was time for us to part. We imagine he is smiling down at us right now.
Preceded in death by his parents Sebastiana and Justo Uriarte, his first wife Barbara E. Uriarte, and his siblings Juanita Uriarte Gorlinski, Joseph Uriarte, Mary Uriarte Mair and Pilar Uriarte Reese, and son-in-law Frederick S. Prince, Jr.
Leon is survived by his widow, Thelma; his children Richard Uriarte, Sherrie Prince, Michael Uriarte, Howard Uriarte (Penny) and step-son Frank Dorka (Maureen) and by 7 grandchildren: Barbara Rodriguez (Matt); Leon Uriarte (Tiffany) ; John Uriarte (Melanie); Christina Kazali (Budi); Camron Uriarte; Colleen Campbell (Michael); James Uriarte; Chelsea Cochran (Dave) ; Molly Dorka; and 13 great grandchildren.
Memorial services are pending and details will be announced at a later date.
Published in The Park Record on Apr. 3, 2013