March 29, 1934 – May 28, 2022
Zella Maxine Griffin passed away on May 28, 2022, in the comfort of her home with her middle son, Robert, and his wife, Martha, by her side. She is now at peace, sitting in God’s love and grace.
She has undoubtedly been welcomed home by her beloved husband of 63 years, Leon ‘Sonny’ Everett Griffin (July 7, 1934 – Jan. 15, 2018). They were definitely a pair made in heaven.
Zella leaves a legacy of love and caring; she was a genuine example of what it means to be a wife, mother and grandmother. She was a blessing to Leon, as well as their children and grandchildren. She is loved and missed tremendously!
Zella was born in Socorro, N.M., to Henry and Alice Del Curto (née Zimmerly) on March 29, 1934. Her younger brother, Charles ‘Chummy’ Del Curto, would precede her in death (July 3, 2015).
In an exciting start to her homemaking adventure, Zella was called to her elementary school’s office to escort her bottle-fed lamb home after it had followed her to school.
Zella studied Home Economics at New Mexico State University and worked in food services, where she met the love of her life. As Zella would tell the story, she saw a tall, handsome man dressed in a white button-down shirt, blue jeans and cowboy boots; as he stood with his hands on his hips, she promptly told her friends that he was the guy she would marry.
Rumor has it that the introduction was made when he skipped pebbles off her backside when she was ahead of him on the path through campus. With God’s blessings, the love story began; she quickly became his ’Precious’ and they were smitten. They would spend the rest of their days together, caring tenderly for each other and raising their family.
Zella’s housekeeping was impeccable, and she would make a house a happy home as Sonny attended graduate school and they raised their three active boys, Randy, Robby and Rusty. She was devoted to her three boys through countless hours as a classroom mother, a sports mother and a dedicated homemaker.
Zella’s support and care extended to friends and teammates as she lovingly fed hordes of hungry young athletes at a full and welcoming table. She also entertained Leon’s colleagues, first in Salt Lake City, Utah, and eventually in their Albuquerque, N.M., home. She made all feel as if they were part of the family. While Sonny was a professor at the University of New Mexico, Zella volunteered her time at The Bargain Box, a resale boutique, and was a member of the Junior Assistance League.
In 2000, Sonny and Zella relocated to Grand Junction, Colo. After Sonny’s passing, Rob and Martha lovingly cared for Zella, ensuring she was comfortable and safe in the home she built and shared with Sonny.
Zella is survived by three sons: Randolph Kurt and wife Sandi (Breckenridge, Colo.), Robert Leon and wife Martha (Grand Junction, Colo.) and Russell Ray and wife Kim (Olathe, Kan.) and a very loving and supportive sister-in-law, JoAnn Force (Lake Jackson, Texas). Zella, or “Nanny,” was loved and cherished by her nine grandchildren: Monika, Breanne and Sarah; Amber and Dane; Jessalynn, Matthew, Andrew and Allyson; and 18 great-grandchildren.
The family would like to thank all the home care providers for their love and caring for our mother over the past several years, especially Loretta Russell and the Mission of HopeWest Hospice Services staff. It cannot be overstated how much aid and comfort they provided our mom in those final days.
Zella and Leon will be interred at Crown Point Cemetery in Grand Junction, Colo., on June 25, 2022, at 10 a.m.