Leon Griffin

Obituary
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  • "Leon was a excellent professor and I am grateful to have..."
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Leon "Sonny" Griffin



Leon Everett Griffin, fondly known as Sonny, passed away on January 15, 2018, with the love of his life, Zella, or "Precious," and his sister, JoAnn, at his side. He was a devoted and beloved husband, father, and grandfather to his wife of 63 years; three sons, Randy, Rob, and

Rusty; nine grandchildren; and 13 great-grandchildren. He leaves a legacy of love, integrity, respect, humility, and genuine caring for all who knew him, worked with him, those he taught, and especially for his family.

He was born on July 7, 1934, in Hanover, New Mexico, to Leon Griffin, Sr. and Helen Muehlig Griffin. Upon the death of his father when Leon was four, Leon and his mother moved to Roy, NM. Leon spent his adolescence and high school years on a ranch in Bueyeros, NM, cared for by Manuel and Mary Gonzalez. During that time, Leon matured, learned the meaning of hard work, and became the "Cowboy" Zella came to love. He graduated from Roy High School and went to New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, NM. There, he played football and basketball, and, most importantly, met his true love, Zella. He earned his Bachelor's degree (1958) and Master's degree (1964) from NMSU, and his Doctorate degree from the University of Utah in Health, Physical Education and Recreation. Leon prided himself on being an educator. He began his career as an 8th grade English teacher in Las Cruces, NM; was an Associate Dean and professor at the University of Utah; and was a respected Department Dean and professor for 25 years at the University of New Mexico. During his tenure at UNM, Leon was elected to the President's Council on Physical Education and Sports. He also played a key role in the 1983 Men's Final Four Basketball Tournament hosted in "The Pit" at UNM.

Leon married Zella Maxine Del Curto on January 29, 1955, in Socorro, NM. During their freshman year at NMSU, she saw this 6'2" man with his hands on his hips, dressed in a white button-down shirt, blue jeans, and cowboy boots, and told her friends that was the guy she would marry. With God's blessings, the 63 year adventure began and was filled with love and family.

Leon is survived by his wife, Zella; sons, Randolph Kurt and wife, Sandy (Breckenridge, CO), Robert Leon and wife, Martha (Grand Junction, CO), and Russell Ray and wife, Kim (Olathe, KS); and sister, JoAnn Forse (Lake Jackson, TX). Leon was loved and cherished by his nine grandchildren: Monika, Breanne, and Sarah; Amber and Dane; Jessalynn, Matthew, Andrew, and Allyson; and 13 great-grandchildren, with two on the way.

The family would like to thank all the medical staff across Grand Junction that provided support and care for our Dad, especially the doctors and nurses at St. Mary's Hospital for the loving care, encouragement, and support provided to us all during this difficult time. We would also like to thank the great family and friends for all your thoughts, prayers, love, appreciation, and support for Leon/Dad/Kacky.

A celebration of life service will be held on January 22, 2018, at 3:00 p.m. at Callahan-Edfast Mortuary. Donations in Leon's memory can be made to the

Catholic Outreach.

Funeral Home
Callahan-Edfast Mortuary & Crematory Inc
2515 Patterson Rd
Grand Junction, CO 81505
(970) 243-2450
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Published in Albuquerque Journal on Jan. 21, 2018