Navy V-12 college training brought Harold Leaumont Elliott from Yuma to Arizona State Teachers College in Flagstaff at the height of World War II in 1943.
His dedication to what is now known as Northern Arizona University brought him back to the mountain town after his military service, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in 1949 and master’s degree in 1951 and became an invaluable supporter of NAU for nearly 60 years to follow.
Mr. Elliott’s continued involvement with the university led him to play an integral role in building partnerships between the university and Arizona Western College and Yavapai College, paving the way for today’s 2+2 programs and the establishment of campuses in Yuma and Prescott Valley.
Mr. Elliott died Dec. 24, 2010, in Yuma. He is survived by his wife of 59 years, Marion, who also is an alum and ardent supporter of NAU.
“Harold was an inspiration to many to pursue an education in this state and at this university,” NAU President John Haeger said. “He and Marion have dedicated their lives to encouraging others to succeed in education and they invested their time and money into making that a reality for many.”
As an undergraduate student, Mr. Elliott was a member of the NAU football, baseball and wrestling teams, but his most decorated days came in the decades after he graduated.
While Mr. Elliott worked with the NAU Alumni Association, Mrs. Elliott served on the NAU Foundation board. The Elliotts established several endowed funds and scholarships at NAU including the F. E. and Olga Elliott Sr. Memorial NAU-Yuma Scholarship, the Harold L. and Marion L. Elliott Scholarship, the Elliott Endowed Scholarship at NAU-Yavapai and the Elliott Scholarship for Visual Arts and Art Education.
The Elliotts received NAU Alumni Achievement Awards, Alumni Service Awards, Centennial Awards, as well as the Joe and Marie Rolle Spirit of NAU Award for their enthusiastic and unwavering support of the university. Mr. Elliott received an honorary doctorate of humane letters from NAU in 2006.
The couple was presented with the Arizona Board of Regents Award for Outstanding Service to Education last year. The award recognizes Arizona citizens and organizations that provide exceptional service to higher education in the state.
“It was an honor to work side by side with him and, over the years, to develop a good friendship,” said Regent Ernest Calderón, president emeritus of the board and an NAU alumnus.
Calderón first met Mr. Elliott while both were serving on an NAU presidential candidate search committee in 1978. “He was devoted to Northern Arizona University and higher education…almost as much as he was to his family and his country. The Arizona Board of Regents was very proud when Harold and Marion accepted our highest honor, the Regents Award. I miss him already.”
Mr. Elliott chose a professional career in education, first as a math teacher and athletic coach at Kingman High School, then as vice principal and principal of Kofa High School in Yuma. After working for more than 20 years in public education, he retired in 1975 and shifted his efforts to his investment company.
Mr. Elliott was a respected community leader in Yuma through his service on the Mayor’s Council on Higher Education, Rotary Club and the Chamber of Commerce. He was recognized as the Professional Educator of the Year by the Yuma County Foundation Hall of Fame in 1993.
During an interview several years ago, Mr. Elliott said of his work as a volunteer and alumnus, “Alumni should be looking in their own communities for outstanding young people and steering them toward NAU.”