Craig ‘Panda’ Leroy Jones


San Luis Valley native and longtime resident Craig “Panda” Leroy Jones, 66, died April 20, 2021, at Penrose-St Francis Hospital in Colorado Springs surrounded by friends and family.

Craig — fondly known as Panda — was born in Monte Vista, Colo., on Nov. 4, 1954, to Robert “Bob” Jones and Dorothy (Hunter) Jones. Craig was the youngest of five children. He married the love of his life, Trish Kempf on March 10, 1984, in Colorado Springs.

Panda and his brother Rocky once owned and operated Jones Auto Supply in Center, Colo. Following that he worked in potato and carrot farming until his retirement in 2016 when he and Trish became full-time caregivers to his parents. Panda also volunteered at the Monte Vista Emergency Food Bank. His hobby was making unique birdhouses from reclaimed wood. His one-of-a-kind creations are scattered across the nation.

Panda’s favorite pastime was spending time at the family cabin north of South Fork and would plan the entire summer the projects and improvements for the cabin. He enjoyed sharing the cabin with friends and family who were always welcome there.

Panda was a very kind, genuine and lovable person who never knew a stranger. He was always ready and willing to help anybody with anything he could. Saying “no” was never in his vocabulary. He was a quiet but devout Christian man who believed strongly in prayer and in his conservative convictions — yet did not force his beliefs on anybody. Panda was a charter member of the Grace and Mercy Bible Fellowship in Monte Vista where he also served as treasurer.

Panda was preceded in death by his parents Robert and Dorothy Jones.

He is survived by his wife of 37 years and best friend, Trish of Alamosa; their children Tucker (Carolyn) Jones of Manhattan, Kan., Marci (Aaron) Smead and grandson Roman of Olathe, Kan., and Mayme “Mandi” of Maine. Siblings include three sisters — Jerry Dodd of Monte Vista, Carol Jones of Alaska, Connie (Dan) Coleman of Gillette, Wyo., and only brother, Rocky (Clarice) Jones of McAllen, Texas, as well as numerous nieces, nephews, and extended family and friends.

He was greatly loved by all who knew him. His absence will be felt by all.

Panda was a Giver of Life. He was an organ donor and that will bless the lives of 15 people. He has also been an avid blood donor since 1980. At the time of his death, he received 20-30 units of blood. 

Contributions may be given in his memory and longtime commitment to blood donation to www.Vitalant.org.

Cremation was performed and a Celebration of Life will be held at 11 a.m. on May 22, 2021, at the First Christian Church/Grace and Mercy Bible Fellowship, 200 Washington St, Monte Vista. 

Rogers Family Mortuary is in care of the arrangements. To leave online condolences, tributes, remembrances and words of comfort for Craig’s family, please visit www.RogersFunerals.com.

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