James Leonard Shurtleff, 90, peacefully left his mortal frame and entered Paradise on New Year’s Day, 2021 in Provo, Utah. Leonard was born on May 8, 1930, the third of four sons of James Henry and Arvilla (Wallace) Shurtleff (Jones).
After serving eighteen months in the Spanish American Mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Leonard met his “eternal companion,” Sandra Wilcock Shurtleff, in 1953. They became engaged prior to his shipping out to serve in the United States Army during the Korean War. Upon his return, they were married for time and all eternity in the Salt Lake Temple on June 7, 1955.
Leonard was devoted to his personal motto, “Love to Learn and Learn to Love.” He dedicated his entire professional career to education, the first part of his motto. Having earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Brigham Young University and Master of Science, and Education Specialist degrees from the University of Utah, Leonard taught chemistry for many years at Jordan, Hillcrest and Brighton High schools. The rest of his career he served as Vice-Principal at Brighton High, Principal at Bingham High and Principal at Midvale and Mt. Jordan Middle Schools. He was beloved by his students and recognized by his peers as 1969 Kiwanis Outstanding Teacher of the Year, 1969 National Science Teachers Association OHAUS Award winner, and was admitted into the Phi Delta Kappa Professional Fraternity in Education in 1975.
The second part of his motto shaped his life of committed service to the Savior’s invitation to “feed my sheep.” As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Leonard served as Bishop (three times); Stake High Counselor (twice); Mission President (Panama/Costa Rica and Malaga, Spain); Family History Missionary (Madrid, Spain); and Missionary Training Center President (Dominican Republic). When not in the mission field, he and Sandra served as Salt Lake Temple Square tour guides, Church Conference Center hosts and Jordan River Temple Baptistry workers.
Leonard loved America and taught his sons by example the importance of “Duty, Honor, Country.” He honorably retired from the United States Army in 1980 as a Lt. Colonel and served intermittently as an officer in the Utah National Guard. He never heard the Star Spangled Banner without tears in his eyes and he cherished the privilege of saluting the flag.
In his free time (which wasn’t much) he enjoyed family history research, working in his yard, rock collecting, hunting, fishing and eating out with his family.
Leonard is survived by his sweetheart, Sandra Shurtleff; sons Michael and Cathy Shurtleff of Columbia, South Carolina; Mark and Mindy Shurtleff of Salt Lake City, Utah; Keith and Nina Shurtleff of Hamilton, Missouri; Kevin, Jane Loftus and Barbara (deceased) Shurtleff of Provo, Utah; and daughter-in-law M’Liss Shurtleff of Sandy, Utah; 25 grandchildren and 41 great grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his parents and brothers Clyde, Vernon and Lloyd.
The family would like to extend special thanks to Carol Harris of Brio Hospice and Chad Johnson at Courtyard at Jamestown Assisted Living.
Funeral services will be held on Friday, January 8, 2021 at 11:00 AM followed by a burial with full military honors at Memorial Mountain View Cemetery. Sadly, in following state and CDC guidelines only immediate family members are invited to attend. However, the mortuary will live stream the funeral and graveside services. The family would love all to join in celebrating Leonard’s life with us, so the services will be live-streamed via Zoom, information TBA. Flowers may be sent to the mortuary at 3115 East 7800 South, Cottonwood Heights, Utah 84121.
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Life Story Info
Mr. Shurtleff was one of my greatest teachers. Growing up I had always loved chemistry, Being in his chemistry class and basking in his enthusiasm as he taught and challenged us to understand chemistry was grand. He had the gruff exterior, kind heart, and sharp humor that made him a perfect mentor for teens. I will always be grateful to him, if only for teaching us how to synthesize ammonium triiodide!
I am sorry for your loss. Jim was my first boss and hired me to teach Math at Midvale Middle. He was a great mentor and I appreciated our many conversations about education. I am pretty sure he decided to hire me when I responded that I was just returning from a mission and that is why I hadn't been teaching after graduation. He had just returned from serving as a mission president in the Caribbean. I always new he had a great deal of confidence in me and that just made me what to be a great teacher. He gave me an awesome start.
What an amazing man and mentor Mr. Shurtleff was tooooo so many of us. He was my mentor in arms when I ran out classes to take in Chemistry (already had all the credits I needed) so he helped me be his lab assistant, which was great help and transformational to my life! There as a running edge poster around the Chemistry lab upper walls that posted Chemistry disciplines and one of them was Chemical Engineer. And one day I saw that and announced "That is what I am going to be and Mr Shurtleff said Yes, go for it. AND I did. I was the first female undergrad at U of U for Chemical engineering in 1969. If it had not been for Mr. Shurtleff's encouragement and believing in me, who knows what kind of life I would have had other than the amazing life I choose? THANK YOU ALWAYS Mr Shurtleff. I did a lot and made a huge something of myself in Chemical Engineering. And was able to retire at 49! Thank You to YOU!! You are forever etched into my heart Mr. Shurleff! And I am sure I am not the only story of success that you inspired! Forever in my heart and being XOXOXO
I’m so sorry for your loss. I remember him well he was our principal at midvale. Middle school. The best principal we ever had 😎🥰☝️ He never gave up on me and my sister he gave us gifts if we didn’t break our promises to him made us feel great n great to come to school every day. He made us feel so special. Love him. He will be deeply missed rest in Paradise sweet sweet man