Colorado potato veteran James Tonso has died
by Lora Abcarian | March 24, 2010
Corado's potato industry is mourning the loss of James T. Tonso, who died
March 5 at the San Luis Valley Regional Medical Center in Alamosa, CO. He
Mr. Tonso was born Sept. 12, 1924, the eighth of nine children born to
Joseph and Johanna Tonso of Florence, CO. Mr. Tonso and his wife, Leila, were
married for 60 years and raised their family in Center, CO.
The owner and operator of Cañon Potato Co., one of the San Luis Valley's
premiere producers of fresh potatoes, James Tonso believed in hard work and
dedication, and today family members carry on the tradition.
Jim Ehrlich, executive director of the Colorado Potato Administrative
Committee in Monte Vista, CO, said that Mr. Tonso's contributions to the
potato industry were important.
"He was instrumental in the development of the modern potato-shipping
industry in the San Luis Valley and left a proud family legacy in Cañon Potato
Company," Mr. Ehrlich said.
Mr. Tonso served on the boards of directors of the San Luis Valley Shippers
Association and the Colorado Potato Administrative Committee.
"He was a special man who was passionate about the San Luis Valley and its
potato industry," Mr. Tonso's son, David, said of his father.
Mr. Tonso was actively involved in his community and was a member of both
the Elks Lodge and the Knights of Columbus. He also served on the Center
town board and was a member of the board of directors of the First National
Bank of Center.
An outdoorsman who enjoyed hunting, fishing and golfing, Mr. Tonso also
served on the boards of Ducks Unlimited, Pearl Lakes Trout Club, Ports of Call
and the Airplane Owner & Pilots Association. He also served with the Ski Hi
Mr. Tonso is survived by his children: James and his wife, Sandy, of Rio Verde,
AZ; Steven and his wife, Kathy Thomas, of Center, CO; David of Monte Vista,
CO; and Nancy L. Sasaki and her husband, Collin, of Littleton, CO. He is also
survived by a sister, Katherine Kane, of Littleton, CO., as well as 13
grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his
wife of 60 years, Leila; two sons, Thomas and Michael; and two daughters,
Virginia L. Tonso Kopfman and Judith A. Tonso.
A funeral mass for Mr. Tonso, who was cremated, was held March 8 at St.
Francis Jerome Catholic Church in Center. Mr. Tonso's family will hold a
private family graveside service in Cañon City, CO, in the near future.
Those wishing to honor Mr. Tonso's memory are requested to make a
contribution to the Catholic Relief Fund or the American Heart Association
care of the Rogers Family Mortuary, 205 State Ave., Alamosa, CO, 81101.