Carlos Leal

Carlos Leal Jr.

Friday, March 13th, 1936 - Thursday, May 28th, 2020
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Carlos Leal Jr, 84, of Greeley, Colorado, passed away at home surrounded by family, on May 28th, after a long battle with cancer. Carlos was born March 13, 1936 in Julesburg, Colorado to Carlos Leal, Sr. and Carmen (Mendoza) Leal. Carlos grew up on the northeastern plains of Colorado, in Julesburg, where he attended high school, later completing his GED. Carlos married his high school sweetheart, Alice (Alicia) Aguayo, in Lakewood, Colorado on December 30, 1955. Very shortly after marrying, Carlos joined the United States Army, where he served from 1955-1958 as a paratrooper out of the 11th Airborne Division. He was first stationed in Fort Campbell, Kentucky, which preceded his military assignments oversees, where he worked on behalf of the United States as part of a Cold War peacekeeping force, patrolling shared borders in Germany.
After receiving an honorable discharge from the Army, Carlos returned home, where he successfully utilized his G.I. Bill to complete degrees. First at Northeastern Junior College, (where he was later celebrated as an honored alumnus), and later at the University of Northern Colorado, (UNC). While at UNC, Carlos completed additional degrees, including a Master’s Degree and later a Specialist of Education, Ed.S. in higher education. In completing his Master’s degree thesis, Carlos successfully established not only UNC’s first Mexican-American Studies program major, but one of the first such majors in any college/university in the state of Colorado.

Prior to his career in higher education at UNC, Carlos served as the Area Director of the Colorado Migrant Council. He subsequently joined the University of Northern Colorado community first working in student affairs, where he, together with colleagues, opened UNC’s Center for Human Enrichment, (CHE). Working as the then Assistant Dean of Students, Carlos supported not only the CHE, but also worked in support of first-generation college students, supporting some of UNC’s first TRIO programs, such as Upward Bound. Later, he served as an assistant professor of Mexican-American Studies, and taught within UNC’s College of Education, teaching history/philosophy/foundations courses, inclusive of Spanish and other classes in Bilingual Education. He also served intermittent appointments as UNC’s Chair of the Hispanic Studies Department, as well as serving on UNC’s Faculty Senate. He instituted student exchange programs on behalf of UNC and the Department of Hispanic Studies. Over the course of several years, Carlos served as both sponsor and professor for UNC students studying in Cuernavaca, San Miguel de Allende and Morelia, Mexico. In one of his final contributions to the UNC community, Carlos and other K-12 and post-secondary educators conceived of, created and implemented UNC’s CUMBRES program – a program for Latinx students pursuing teaching in support of low-income, diverse K-12 student populations. Carlos retired from UNC in 1998, receiving Emeritus status. Later, in 2001, Carlos was recognized as an honored alumnus of UNC.

In addition to his career in higher education, Carlos believed in the importance of civic engagement and political activism. He ran for public office and served both on the Greeley/Evans School District #6 Board of Education, including a term as the board president. Carlos also served one term on Greeley’s City Council, representing Ward I. He was a founding member of the Sunrise Community Health Center and served as a member of the United States Civil Rights Commission.

After retirement, he turned his love of learning and the law into a certificate as a paralegal. This additional formal training enabled him to work alongside his son, Carlos Leal III, who was an attorney. In addition to his paralegal work, post-retirement Carlos had many other hobbies. He enjoyed woodworking in his own woodshop. He also enjoyed reading and watching history programs. He was a frequent editorial contributor for the Greeley Tribune, enjoying many years of writing and submitting pieces close to his heart and deeply reflective of his personal convictions. He was a life-long fan of football, early in his education career serving as a head football coach and later providing support to various sports teams at UNC. Carlos was also an avid fan and season ticket holder of the Denver Broncos.

In 2008 he married Erendira Sepulveda, and received her children as his own. Erendira and Carlos enjoyed 12 years of marriage, during which time they traveled to Mexico, while sharing a love of reading, writing and work in education. This collaborative partnership resulted in consulting work at the Universidad Latina de America, in Morelia, Michoacan, Mexico, where he co-founded conferences on immigration, the Bracero Program and the Mexican-American Studies major/program.

Preceding Carlos in death were his parents (Carlos Leal Sr. and Carmen Mendoza Leal), three siblings (Velia, Les, and Don), his first wife Alicia Carolyn Aguayo, and his son Carlos Leal III. He is survived by his wife Erendira Leal, his daughters Valerie (Bill), Vivian, Vicki (Saul), eight grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren; and his wife’s daughters, Soraya, Erendira (Ricardo), Berenice (Alejandro), and five grandchildren.

A viewing will be held at Adamson Life Celebration Funeral Home in Greeley on Friday June 5, 2020 from 2 – 6 PM. Adherence to current COVID 19 protocols will be strictly enforced, please wear a mask. Donations may be made to the UNC Foundation in the name of the Carlos and Alice (Aguayo) Leal Education Scholarship.
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Service Details

  • Interment

    Hillside Cemetery
    Address Not Available
    Julesburg, CO
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Wendy Rich

Posted at 05:53pm
Dear Leal family,
I am saddened to learn of Carlos' passing. He was truly one of my favorite UNC profs and I was truly blessed to have him known him throughout my youth. Carlos, you were a scholar, an advocate, a gentleman and always so completely genuine. Thank you for making Northern Colorado (and beyond) a better place. Thank you for your energy and passion. Thank you for touching so many lives in some many wonderful ways. Blessings, Wendy Rich-Goldschmidt
May you rest in peace dear friend.
Wendy Rich-Goldschmidt

Lynn Waltman

Posted at 12:15pm
For many years I knew Carlos and Alicia as educational leaders in our community and as role models. Later we had the privilege to know Carlos in more social settings where we could also appreciate his good cooking and his good humor.
Peace and Love, Robert and Lynn Waltman

Becky Safarik

Posted at 12:03pm
Family of Carlos,

I extend my heartfelt care and thoughts your way with the passing of Carlos. How wonderful that he graced this world and we were fortunate enough to know him. I was one of the lucky souls who crossed paths with Carlos over the years on many community, City Board, City Council and Greeley social issues. I could count on his thoughtful insights, candid observations, postures of social justice and guidance on how to make our world more just, loving, and celebratory. Carlos was an impactful life teacher with a generous sense of humor and grace. I look to his role model of demeanor, persistence, and calm as he pressed us all to be socially conscious, caring, and insistent on doing the right thing at the right time. I will keep his memory as a light and guide in these new challenging times. Thank you for sharing your beloved Carlos with us all....he was a very special and impactful person. May we all be so.

Becky Safarik

Richard Bond

Posted at 09:47pm
Val, Vivian and Vicki:
Oh, to be able to hug each of you individually as well as together, but the situation commands otherwise. Wisdom prevails and keeps me from coming to Adamson's on Friday. We live in Fox Run Independent living, just around the corner, but even the remote possibility of introducing the coronavirus here with so many vulnerable people makes me shudder. I know Adamson's are working to be safe but I could never live with myself if I caused someone else to be sick. So please forgive me for not being there, but know that I grieve with you and am with you all in spirit.
You all have been a part of our lives, from University Schools through UNC. Your dad was a special friend, not only professionally as a faculty member, but more importantly as a personal friend. We have been through several battles together and share the same scars. I could turn to him for advice as well as solace; he was always there. And after both of us retired we maintained a real friendship, so it pains me not to be able to join you in saying good-by. I don't know whether he ever told you that I was able to join him in Julesburg at the funeral of one of his parents so our friendship was both personal and longstanding. To see him ever so recently occasionally at UNC events with one of you was always exciting, reminding me of the good events our families shared in times past. I love the picture you chose to share with all of us - so typically Carlos, with a sly smile, "cap over eye" as Ogden Nash said. i will miss seeing him again and will hope from time to time to give you each a hug, as I was able to do with Val such a short time ago.
Flowers, like life, are so fleeting. I am glad he and Alicia set up a permanent scholarship at the UNC Foundation. As was always the case with him on campus, students will continue to benefit from his wisdom and care.
Sincerely, with love and respect and good memories,
Dick Bond

Chuck Keating

Posted at 12:48pm
Carlos was a tremendous influence in both of our lives. Along with Ernie Andrade, they were responsible for George’s position as an internal evaluator for the Johnstown Bilingual program and later when I arrived, offering direction to the directionless. Carlos was a man of action, his impact on his family, friends and colleagues, and community cannot be measured. He will truly be missed by all.

George & Chuck Keating

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