Leo Henry GrosJacques
July 15, 1924 - February 4, 2014
Leo GrosJacques was born in the family home on the Mt. Angel Abbey property. Dad was one of nine children from a family that immigrated from Europe in the early 1900's. He graduated from Mt. Angel Prep School where he was an all-state basketball player. Recently, he was their first Hall of Fame inductee.
Dad enlisted in the Navy and was a trained bombardier and bow gunner finishing second in his class. He was on a ship heading towards Japan for potential combat when the atomic bomb was dropped.
Before entering the Navy, dad met a shy and timid beauty named Ruth. They married on September 13, 1947 and were infamously together for 51 years. They raised 5 children between Portland and Salem. He was completely devoted to his wife and kids first and foremost.
Dad graduated with a degree in education from the University of Portland on the G.I. bill. Once again, he excelled in basketball and baseball becoming their only two sport Hall of Fame inductee. His four year career batting average was an astonishing .431.
His teaching/ coaching career started in 1954 at Sacred Heart in Salem then on to Serra Catholic High School. He taught history, biology and religion. His teams won 80% of their basketball games. He finished his career at Cascade High School.
Dad was intelligent (nearly had his doctorate in U.S. history), humble, disciplined, generous and prideful. He enjoyed the beach, golf, hunting, fishing, poker and hiking.
He had a positive and lasting effect on many a student and athlete, embracing and teaching hard work, discipline and success.
Dad was a highly respected member of his community and was simply a great man.
He was preceded in death by his wife in 1998. He is survived by his children (spouses), Carol Patterson, David GrosJacques (Sally), Sue Marion (Al), Janet GrosJacques (Jay Howe) and Steve GrosJacques (Glenna DeSouza). Dad had an extended family that all deeply cared for him. This included 12 grandchildren and 7 great grandchildren along with stepchildren and grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held at St. Mary Catholic Church in Mt. Angel on Monday February 10th at 11:00 a.m. Rosary will be held at 7:30 p.m. on Sunday the 9th. Visitation on Sunday from 1-6 at Unger in Mt. Angel.
The family requests in lieu of flowers that donations be made to St. Vincent de Paul Society Food Bank or Meals on Wheels in Salem.
Published in The Statesman Journal on Feb. 7, 2014.