Obituary of John Leslie Dietz
John Leslie Dietz, May 4, 1938 – August 21, 2023
John Leslie Dietz was born May 4,1938 to Marguerite Leone Holden Dietz and Cap Leslie Dietz at the Carothers Hospital in Broken Bow, Nebraska. He grew up on the Dietz family farm in the Custer Center Community between Broken Bow and Merna. John went to the Custer Center Evangelical United Brethren Church and was active in Custer Center Grange. After graduating from Broken Bow High School in 1956, he set off for The University of Nebraska Lincoln, where he completed a BA in 3 years.
John taught at the Broken Bow Junior-Senior High School from 1959-1964 while managing the family farm so that his younger brother, Walter, could attend university. During the summers he took advantage of the advertising for “summer school where summer’s cool” at Colorado State College (now UNC) in Greeley, Colorado, where he obtained a MA in 1963. While in Greeley his interest in geography strengthened and in the fall of 1964 he enrolled in the PhD program at Syracuse University in Syracuse, NY. In 1967, he accepted a faculty position in the Geography Department at Colorado State College in Greeley, where he remained until 2001 when he became Professor Emeritus. He completed his PhD in 1970—the same year that Colorado State College became the University of Northern Colorado.
While in Syracuse, John married Cornelia (Corny) Roberts and together they moved to Greeley in 1967. Two daughters were born, Marguerite (Molly) and Leslie. The couple divorced in 1986. In 1988 John married Corrine (Corki) Cummins, a teacher and seamstress. John became known for his many Corki-made vests reflecting the various topics he taught and their RV adventures.
John’s passion for being a professor and mentor was reflected in his teaching, advising, research and service. He belonged to numerous professional organizations and served on multiple committees, including a term as the Great Plains/Rocky Mountain regional councilor for the Association of American Geographers. In 1974, the publication of James Michener’s book Centennial began a second career for John - presenting public lectures relating Michener’s fictional geography of Colorado to the actual geography. He gave some three hundred presentations (lectures, field trips, seminars, videos) over the next forty years. He gave his last presentation in 2016 for the Highlands Ranch Historical Society with grandchildren Emma and Nathan Pickett in the audience.
Community involvement was important to John. He voted in every election, was active in the Democratic Party, Kiwanis Club, UNC Emeritus Faculty Association, Weld County Public Employees Retirees Association, and Friends of the UNC Libraries all while maintaining membership at the Masonic Lodge and Custer County Historical Society in Broken Bow. In addition to helping Corki with ESL classes, he led programs for GRASP (Greeley Retirees Academic Study Program) at the Greeley Senior Center /Active Adult Center.
Church remained a constant for John. In Greeley he joined the United Presbyterian Church and then became a founding member of Family of Christ Presbyterian Church. Later he and Corki joined First United Methodist Church and then First Congregational Church—United Church of Christ.
John is survived by his wife Corki Cummins-Dietz of Greeley, his daughters Molly Pickett (Jamie) of Highlands Ranch, CO and Leslie Dietz (Kevin Farrell) of Steamboat Springs, CO and by his grandchildren Emma Pickett and Nathan Pickett of Highlands Ranch. He is also survived by his brother Walter Dietz (Bobbe) of Broken Bow, NE, by four generations of nieces and nephews, and many cousins and friends. He was preceded in death by his parents, and three older sisters.
A memorial service will be held on Saturday, September 16, 2023 at 10:30am at First Congregational Church in Greeley.
In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made in John's memory to the Dietz-Cummins Scholarship Fund at the University of Northern Colorado.
Designation (drop down): Other
Direct your donation (type in): Dietz-Cummins ScholarshipTo send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of John Dietz, please visit Tribute Store