Every year on Route 15, you will find Joe Bob Leake dressed in a Santa Claus suit as he drives his bus across town. While he admits that he prefers to be himself instead of Santa, he does it for the sake of the children on his bus.
“I do my little Santa Claus deal every year at Christmas and the little kids get a kick out of it,” he told The SUN.
While his warm personality and long, salt-and-pepper beard may be reminiscent of Santa, Joe Bob is characterized most by his love of family, faith and hunting.
Joe Bob came to Pagosa Springs 42 years ago from Lubbock, Texas, with his wife and high school sweetheart, Donna Leake. That first winter, they lived in a 12-by-16 room in a barn with their three daughters, as Joe Bob worked to finish building their house. The girls slept in the loft above the room, and with no electricity in the barn, Joe Bob would read them stories by the light of a lantern each night.
Now, 40 years later, Joe Bob still loves the Pagosa Springs community.
Joe Bob and Donna have been married for 52 years. Along with their three daughters, they have seven grandchildren, two great-grandchildren and another on the way.
The Leakes moved around often before settling in the southwest. First, Joe Bob took a job in Dallas working on integrated circuits for Texas Instruments.