Cover photo for Leroy Ortiz's Obituary
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1941 Leroy 2024

Leroy Ortiz

February 2, 1941 — January 27, 2024

It is with tremendous sadness that we announce the death of Leroy I. Ortiz, beloved husband, father, and grandfather. He is survived by his loving wife, Dora of 60 years; his beloved son, Mark of whom he was so proud; beautiful daughter-in-law, Natalya; and his precious grandchildren, Elias and Elicia, who were the joy of his life. Leroy is also survived by his siblings, Rosemary Wickard (Pascall, deceased), David Ortiz (Delia), John Ortiz (Sandra), and Helen Yackel (Larry); his sister-in-law, Lydia Ortiz (Tom Ortiz); as well as many loved nieces and nephews. Preceding him in death were his parents; and his brother, Tom Ortiz.

Leroy was born in Santa Fe, New Mexico to Ignacio and Eduvigen Ortiz. He was raised in Santa Fe where he attended Guadalupe Elementary and Middle school and St. Michael's High School. Following high school, Leroy attended St. Michael's College, graduating with a Bachelor degree in education. Following graduation, his plan was to join the Peace Corps in Latin America, but someone entered his life that changed everything.

Instead of joining the Peace Corps, Leroy married the love of his life, Dora Marie Romero, and they moved to Chinle, Arizona to begin his educational career teaching Navajo students. He loved his students and they loved him! The experience teaching Navajo students stimulated his life-long interest in language and culture. Leroy was always eager to pursue his education, so after three years in Chinle and one year in Crownpoint, NM, he moved to Albuquerque to continue his education, receiving a Masters Degree in Special Education. A new position had him relocating his family to Alamosa, Colorado where he accepted an administrative position as Director of Special Education for fourteen school districts in southern Colorado.

After two years in Alamosa, Leroy was accepted to UNM where he began working on a PhD in Bilingual education and Linguistics under the mentorship of "La Doctora" Dolores Gonzales. When he completed his PhD, he was offered a professorship in the College of Education where he taught and worked administratively for over 35 years, retiring in 2010.

Leroy was highly respected and admired by students, faculty and staff for his teaching, scholarship and mentorship of students as well as young faculty. His quick wit and outstanding memory of all his students made him a favorite professor. Upon meeting a student anywhere, he would remember where they came from, special things about their family and the academic work they had done.

Leroy was an excellent writer. During his tenure at UNM, he wrote and received many grants which provide students with financial support enabling them to pursue degrees in Bilingual education and English as a Second Language. Leroy and Dora endowed the Leroy and Dora Bilingual Education Teacher Education Scholarship which continues to this day to support students in their career path. During his time at UNM, Leroy received many prestigious awards. Perhaps the most notable was becoming the first College of Education recipient of the Chester C. Travelstead Faculty Fellowship for Teacher Education.

Leroy was a true gentleman! He was a kind, sensitive, generous and loving person who truly loved his work and did it with the utmost degree of professionalism, enthusiasm, and ethics.

Leroy and Dora had a wonderful life together, traveling, sharing good books and always engaging in conversations and discussions, from politics to good food. He especially enjoyed their coffee time together, whether at home or a favorite coffee shop! Each day during their daily walks, they had "book talks" and shared interesting books or articles they recently read. Most importantly, Leroy treasured his grandchildren, Elias and Elicia. He loved watching them grow up and reach every milestone in their lives. They loved their grandpapa so much and enjoyed his humor and silly stories!

Leroy was a man with "mucho corazon" and will truly be missed by everyone who knew him. He leaves a legacy of love, generosity, helping others and always a great sense of humor. And now, as Leroy would say, "class dismissed!". Rest in peace Dr. Ortiz, my beloved.

A quote from Isabel Allende, "La Muerte no existe, la gente solo muere cuando la olvidan; si puedes recordarme siempre estaré contigo.

A Mass will be held Friday, February 16, 2024, 10:00 a.m., at St. Therese of the Infant Jesus Catholic Church, 3424 4th St. NW. A reception will be held at St. Therese Gymnasium. Burial will follow reception at Sunset Memorial Park, 924 Menaul Blvd. NE.

To send flowers to the family in memory of Leroy Ortiz, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services


Friday, February 16, 2024

10:00 - 11:00 am (Mountain time)

St. Therese of the Infant Jesus Catholic Church

3424 4th Street Northwest, Albuquerque, NM 87107

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Friday, February 16, 2024

11:30am - 12:30 pm (Mountain time)

St. Therese Catholic Church Gymnasium

212 Mildred Avenue Northwest, Albuquerque, NM 87107

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Friday, February 16, 2024

1:30 - 2:30 pm (Mountain time)

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