Robert “Titi” Gradillas


With a heavy heart and gratitude for his life, the family of Robert “Titi ” Carrizosa Gradillas announced his passing on April 11, 2023, at the age of 83. Titi, the middle child of Frank and Charlotte Gradillas, was born on Sept. 2, 1939, in Globe, Arizona. He grew up within the safe confines of his deeply loving family and the mulberry tree on his beloved Euclid Street.

Titi was fortunate to have many positive influences in his life, most significantly his parents. As a boy, Titi was a member of the Termite youth group founded by Benny and Gloria Guerrero. Titi attended Globe public schools. During his years at Globe High School, Titi excelled at sports. He earned four letters in baseball and three letters in track. He also received two letters in basketball and, as a junior, was invited to play on the All-Star High School Basketball Team. During Titi ’s basketball tenure, Globe won the South Conference Championship two years in a row. Titi also played on the Class A State Championship Basketball Team. Titi played varsity football during high school, earning four varsity letters.

In 1958, Titi graduated from Globe High School, earning a full scholarship to Arizona State College as a standout in football. At Arizona State College in Flagstaff (now Northern Arizona University), Titi played both offensive back and defensive back from 1958 to 1961 under legendary coach Max Spilsbury. During Titi ’s freshman season in 1958, the 3rd-ranked Lumberjacks became the first Arizona college team to play in a nationally televised game, against 4th-ranked Northeastern Oklahoma State during the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Championship “Holiday Bowl” in St. Petersburg, Florida. Despite the 19-13 loss, the team was inducted into the Northern Arizona University Athletics Hall of Fame in 1983.

In 1960, as a Lumberjack, Titi went to Mexico City to play a game at the largest football stadium at the time, Estadio Olimpico Universitario. Among Titi ’s college years highlights was playing to a capacity crowd in the 75,000-seat stadium. In 2009, for his achievements in football, Titi was inducted into the Arizona Hispanic Sports Hall of Fame. He also served on the Board of Directors for the NAU Letterwinners Club.

In 1964, Titi married Karen Reed. Together, they raised four children at their home in Flagstaff, Arizona. Titi was a top regional salesman in the liquor industry for 20 years. He then worked for Gila County for ten years, assisting dislocated workers.

Titi is survived by his wife, Karen; his daughter Mia Oliver and son-in-law, Donnie; his son Chris Gradillas; his son James Gradillas and daughter-in-law, Michelle; and his son Sean Gradillas. Titi also leaves behind his brother Frank “Suki” Gradillas Jr., sister-in-law Phyllis and sister Olivia “Babio” Gradillas. Titi will also be missed by his nine adoring grandchildren, a great-granddaughter, and nieces and nephews.

The kindness and wit of this gentle giant of a man will be forever missed by all who knew and loved him. A private celebration of a well-lived life will be held on June 10, 2023, in Phoenix, Arizona.