Leon Hunsaker, beloved husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather, passed away Monday, March 21, 2022. After 45 years in Grants Pass, Oregon, Leon relocated to Kaysville, Utah in June, 2021 to be closer to family and due to declining health.
Leon was born May 6, 1923 in Deweyville, Utah and grew up on the family farm with his parents and loving brother and sister. He participated in many school activities, including sports and school plays, served as the Bear River High School student body president, and was later made a member of the high school’s Hall of Fame. Upon graduation, he worked in an aircraft factory in Southern California. During World War II, he served in the United States Army Air Corp and captained a B-17 bomber crew. Later, he switched to B-29’s and was on a troop train bound for the west coast and then on to the war in the Pacific when hostilities ended.
After the war, he attended Utah State University, where he met the love of his life, Margaret Worlton. They married June 10, 1947 in the Logan Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He graduated from St. Louis University and later received a Master’s Degree in Atmospheric Science from M.I.T. in Boston. He served as a meteorologist for the United States Air Force, stationed in England in the early 1950’s. The love and admiration he and Margaret and their young child, Claudia, gained for the people of that island nation was a blessing to the entire family for years to come.
The young family continued to grow, as along came Martin and Elizabeth and finally Arthur. In 1958, Leon began a ten-year career as a meteorologist for the Pacific Gas and Electric Company in California. Then, in 1968, KPIX Channel 5 in San Francisco offered him a job as the station’s weatherman. He is believed to be the first trained scientist to take on such work.
Leon served as weatherman in San Francisco for nearly six of the next eight years, part of a team of on-air talent that put the channel’s newscast at number 1 in the local news ratings. A self-taught broadcaster, his skills in connecting with viewers with a touch of humor and conveying sometimes complex weather principles without losing his devoted audience were remarkable.
In the mid-1970’s, Leon sought a break from the hectic pace of Bay Area television, purchased and built on property in Hugo, north of Grants Pass, Oregon, and relocated the family. In the process of relocating, he was hired by a local television station, and served as meteorologist at several Rogue Valley stations over the next 17 years. He established Jetstream Weather, Inc., which broadcast weather reports for many radio stations from northern California, up most of the Oregon coast, and Wyoming. Once again, Leon’s good humor and approachability won him many fans, and he mentored employees as they prepared for future opportunities.
He retired from television in 1993, but continued the radio broadcasts for several more years before retiring altogether. In his later years, he gained deep satisfaction from numerous improvement projects on his property, which he nicknamed the “Hugo Hilton,” coined a song he called, “Where is Hugo?”, and took a keen interest in Margaret’s incredible quilting skills, which brought her many awards.
Leon was the recipient of many recognitions, including the Broadcast Heritage Award from the Oregon Association of Broadcasters in 1999.
Leon often expressed his love for his caregivers, both in Oregon and in Utah, and for his family and especially his dear Margaret for blessing his life so richly. He adored his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Leon mourned Margaret’s passing in 2010, and though he remained vibrant and mentally sharp, his health gradually faded until he made the move back to the state of his youth, where he survived a bout with COVID-19.
Leon did not wear his religious faith on his sleeve, but had deep reservoirs of faith in Heavenly Father and his savior, Jesus Christ, which he passed on to his family. He served in many church responsibilities, including as bishop of a local congregation, and as a high counselor.
Leon is survived by his four children: Claudia Roskelley, Hugo, Oregon; Martin Hunsaker, Kaysville, Utah; Betsy Dastrup, North Ogden, Utah; and Arthur Hunsaker, Kaysville, Utah; 17 grandchildren and 18 great-grandchildren. He is preceded in death by his wife, Margaret Worlton; a sister, Vera Grace Hunsaker; and a brother, Arthur Franklin Hunsaker.
To honor Leon’s life, a memorial service will be held Friday, April 22 at the Merlin Ward chapel of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 339 Jumpoff Joe Creek Road, Grants Pass, Oregon. Those wishing to participate are invited to meet the family beginning at 10:30 A.M., with the memorial service following at Noon.