Paul E. Leach, who taught American history and government to two generations of Cortez students and served as a Mesa Verde National Park ranger for three decades, passed away on September 29, 2020. He was 87.
Paul was born on August 11, 1933 in Des Moines, Iowa to Derrell and Lucille Leach. He moved to the Western Slope of Colorado in 1943 with his parents and three brothers, residing in both Grand Junction and Montrose. He received his Bachelor’s degree in American History and Master’s degree in Education both from Western State University in Gunnison, Colorado and served in the U.S. Army in Germany. In 1958 Paul moved to Cortez and joined the faculty at Montezuma-Cortez High School teaching History and Government. He went on to educate, inspire, and instill fear into MCHS students until his retirement in 1998. Paul was also a seasonal park ranger at Mesa Verde National Park spending 30 years as both a guide and as a patrol officer. Here, he was known for his insightful camp-fire talks and for protecting partygoers from reveling in the Park’s tunnel.
Paul loved spending time boating at Lake Powell, four-wheel drives in the San Juans, and watching his grandkids sporting events. He had a passion for baseball and loved spending time in the stands watching spring-training baseball. He was an avid reader and loved to read both fiction and non-fiction historical books. During his career at MCHS he coached JV baseball and sponsored many activities including student government. He is well known for the graduation ceremonies he directed and the numerous proms and homecoming parade floats that he helped students build.
Paul is survived by his two sons Mark and Steven (Shelby), his brother Jack (Janet), two grandchildren Trae and Mara, other close family members including Susan Fryhover and Nancy Acree, and many nieces and nephews.