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Leo David Kiggins  WWII


May 26, 1920 - April 6, 2008

Leo D. Kiggins, 87, of Grand Junction, CO passed away peacefully April 6, 2008. He was born May 26, 1920 in Emmett, ID to Samuel James and Esteele Leona (Bott) Kiggins. He lived in Emmett until he was 12 years old. By 1932 the Great Depression had ravaged the family with lost jobs and dwindling resources. In 1934 the family moved first to Rifle, CO and later to Grand Junction. Times were difficult but with perseverance, Leo received his diploma from the CCC and graduated with the Grand Junction High School Class of 1938. Supporting his family through various jobs, Leo found his gift in mathematics and engineering, earning an Associates Degree at the University of Chicago. Leo's life was again impacted by historical events with the entrance of the U.S. into World War II. He joined the Army and was assigned to the Engineer Corps, 336 Battalion. He was stationed in South Carolina for amphibious training and then to Great Britain to await the invasion. On June 6, 1944 Leo and thousands of other brave heroes stormed the beaches of Normandy against Hitler's occupying forces. Leo's unit landed on Omaha Beach. The cost was high. It is said the tide turned red that day with the blood of American men. But, the tenacity, self-direction and ingenuity of the troops in the midst of disastrous chaos prevailed and the beach was secured. Leo's unit built the first road off Omaha Beach for military use. Leo never stopped being a soldier at heart. He loved his country with a melancholy-sweetness that only those who have witnessed great loss of life for freedom can understand. On October 3, 1952 Leo married the love of his life, Dorothy Gale Miner. They had two children, Linda and David. Leo and Dorothy supported, loved and cared for each other until her death in 1991. Leo worked in the early 1950's at the Climax Uranium Mill south of downtown Grand Junction. He stayed with the Mill until a better opportunity came to the Grand Valley. Leo was one of the original hires for the American Gilsonite Refinery which began operating west of Fruita. He was hired at the refinery in the summer of 1957 and was always grateful to Jesse Boyce for taking "a chance" on him. Later years brought a name change, Gary Western Oil Refinery, to the operation, but Leo stayed with the job. In 1989 Leo announced his retirement and began enjoying his own schedule after decades of shift work. As one refinery memo stated when Leo's last day at the plant was honored: the refinery has never known a day of operation without Leo until now. Leo is survived by his daughter, Linda Kiggins of Grand Junction; his son, David (Susan) Kiggins of Johnstown, CO; his grandson, Troy (Candie) Kiggins; his granddaughter, Chelsie Satterwhite; and three great grandchildren, Trinity, Joy and Joseph, who brought Leo much happiness and company. Additionally, two daughters, Charlene and Janet, from a previous marriage also survive. Leo was preceded in death by his parents; his wife, Dorothy; and his sister, Zella Sephens. Leo will always be remembered for his love of country and family. He will be greatly missed. At Leo's request, a private service has already taken place. Arrangements were entrusted to Snell-McLean Funeral Home in Palisade.

Published in The Daily Sentinel on Apr. 13, 2008.

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