Funeral Mass for Freddie "LeRoy" Espinoza, a lifelong resident of Cortez, will be held at 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 20 at St. Margaret Mary Catholic Church. Interment will follow at Cortez Cemetery.
Visitation has been set for Friday evening beginning at 5 p.m. at the Catholic Church with a Rosary service following at 6 p.m.
LeRoy was born January 7, 1950 in Cortez to Freddie Moses and Genevieve (Candelaria) Espinoza. He passed away at Southwest Memorial Hospital in Cortez on Saturday, May 13, 2017 at the age of 67.
LeRoy is survived by his wife of 44 years, Catherine Ann (Chavez) Espinoza of Cortez; children, Bernadette Espinoza (Dustin Dalman) of Cortez and Carl Espinoza also of Cortez; and by his siblings, Alice Vialpando (Eloy) of Cortez, Steve Espinoza (Donnie) of Colorado Springs, Colo., and Patsy Fox (Bill) of Huntsville, Ala. He was preceded in death by his parents; and by his brother, Freddie Espinoza.
There are so many words and not enough time to talk about my wonderful father. He was dynamite in a firecracker sized package. I don't believe he ever met any enemy in his life, he was dependable, kind, hardworking, smart as could be, and probably one of the best humans this Earth could ever have.
He grew up here in Cortez with his parents Freddie and Genevieve Espinoza, his brother and sisters, Alice, Steve, Patsy, and Freddie. He loved his family. There is some peace in knowing that my dad is with his parents and brother Freddie. Especially my grandfather who was his best friend.
He had and incredible sense of tradition. I knew when we went to a family reunion that he would know everyone, there names, and how they were related. He made sure he never forgot a single soul. He would say, "Just call them primo and you will be fine." Tradition was so important to him. I remember him telling me stories about his family, the ranch, and growing up. Even the story when they thought they had killed their cousin Robert after hitting in the head with a big battery playing war. Or messing with the pigs and great grandma would get mad at them. He loved tradition so much he made sure that he learned the Marcha from his uncle in Grand Junction. My parents loved doing the Marcha for weddings and I was blessed to have them do that for me. He told me someday that it would be my job to make sure that tradition wasn't forgotten.
He graduated from MCHS, then attended Mesa State College, and went on to CU Boulder. He did many things during life, he worked at the flour mill before he was 18, he did carpentry with his uncle Jimmy, worked at City Market, the Cortez Laundry, the plywood plant, Sheep herding, broke horses, and worked for Colorado Department of Transportation until he retired. He loved being outdoors, a job that would allow him to do that made him happy. Even though he worked so hard, he found small ways to enjoy it. Before he retired he took us down to the barn to look at all the "Tonka" Trucks and equipment he operated. Very few people know that he was even trained to shoot an avalanche. He always took pride in the work that he did.
My dad had many hobbies, he played softball and basketball until he was injured badly. He was an umpire and even took on coaching softball, because I had the crazy idea that I needed to be a bat girl. He coached my brother in baseball, wrestling, and football. He was a bowler and belonged to the bowling team, the Black Knights Too. He loved the Dallas Cowboys. They were his team, and he took every opportunity to give anyone who was a Bronco fan a hard time. He loved the outdoors riding horses, hunting, and fishing. Any excuse to be outside. After retiring, he would sneak out as much as possible to fish. He would hunt with my grandfather, and later I took over that duty, until my husband became his hunting partner. We spent every weekend we could camping from Memorial Day until Labor Day and even our vacations were spent at Coal Creek.
He was a devoted member of the Knight of Columbus. He helped bring the Knights back to parish after it membership had fallen away. He was the Grand Knight 1990-92, then the District Deputy for this area. He would dress up as Santa Claus for the Nursing home Christmas parties and then for the children's Christmas parties, he helped start the Mother's Day breakfast, he would do the Keep Christ in Christmas campaign and would hand out candy canes with sayings after the Christmas Eve masses. One of his favorite things to do was to get the bags of candy for the christmas parties. He would shop for all the candy, line up the paper bags in the hallway and fill them with peanuts, candy, and an orange. He was like a jolly little elf and it brought him such glee.
My dad became a surrogate dad for many of my college friends and loved having them over for the holidays. It would bring him such joy to have a ton of girls in sleeping bags in the living room. He would often hide our Easter eggs and made sure everyone had a good time and always left with a full belly.
The most important story to tell about my dad is the love story he had with my Mom. When my mom first met him all scruffy in his hunting gear, she wasn't sure what to make of him. Her first thought was who is this old man and realized he wasn't old as they started discussing their love of cartoons. Then later on my dad would recount the story, when they fell in love and my mom supposably drug him out of the Aztec Community Center by the scruff of his neck and he left behind his deeply indented boot prints. He would always say when we would go back, "See hita, that is where your mom drug me out of here." My parents were married for 44 years. You could see the love they had for each other, always holding hands, laughing, and giving each other a hard time. When they danced you could see that there were perfect for each other as they would glide across the floor. They weren't just in love they were best friends. My mom has always believed that my dad was her Knight in Shining armor, because he saved her. They were the example of what true love is and will continue to be. That love will never end.
He had and incredible sense of humor. The more my dad liked you the harder time he would give you. He loved to tease and joke around with people. He would walk into the house growing up and raise his voice and say, "What the hell are you doing in my house," to my friends. Then quietly walk away proud of himself. I would have to explain he was only kidding. He would often boast about how gorgeous he was and how all the girls loved him for his green eyes. We will miss him arguing with the T.V. as he watched the news, or yelling at Dallas when they were losing. His stories or tall tales were wonderful. He had made up stories for all his chihuahuas. Dumbo I and Poncho ate all the elephants in North America, Dumbo II ate all the Dinosaurs, Ponchito was messed up after the great war and had been exposed to agent orange, my Hercules was a back jumping chicken fighter, and his most cherished baby Boo was going to hunt for the infamous monster the Roogaroo with him. You could always find her in his jacket or on his lap. She was the best medicine for him in this last year.
My father loved a good western or hero movie. He especially love John Wayne movies. My father never realized the he was the hero of his own story. A Champion for those he loved. He was every bit the man they write about in a great novel. He had the strength of a knight and so much more. He was brave, strong, smart and resilient. He carried all the traits of these heroes in movies and books. But he was the real deal. He had a heart of gold and was a good loving man. He believed in taking care of those around him; his friends, family, and for those who had very little or no one.
This last year has been hard, but we are so grateful for the time the lord granted us. My mother and I would like to thank everyone for the prayers and a special thank you to my husband for caring for my dad.
We ask that you remember him laughing, smiling, and those beautiful green eyes. And The next time you dance, please dedicate that dance to my father.