ONTONAGON, Mich - Louis J. Gregory, 71, died on May 20, 2014, from leukemia.
He was born on Aug. 29, 1942, in Ironwood. Son of the late Louis J. and Della (Sobolewski) Gregory, he lived in Ironwood, Escanaba, Ann Arbor and Detroit, before settling with his family on the shores of Lake Superior in Ontonagon in 1969.
He graduated from Holy Name Catholic High School in Escanaba with the class of 1960. He went on to receive a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Michigan in 1964 and a Master of Arts degree in educational administration from Eastern Michigan University in 1967.
Lou was a lifelong teacher and coach, beginning his career in the Detroit area. He ran the National Science Foundation Summer Island Science Camp for high school students from 1967-1971. He served the Ontonagon Area School District for 28 years, starting as the community education director, then high school principal, and finally as superintendent. He retired in 1993 and returned in 2004 for an additional three years. During his tenure, the Ontonagon Area School District was presented with numerous state and national awards for outstanding academic achievement, and he avidly promoted the incorporation of computers into the curriculum. For five of those years he volunteered as the Ontonagon golf coach, and was extremely proud of his players winning four straight U.P. State Final Open Class Championships. In 1977, Lou was awarded the U.P. Community Service Award and in 1993, the Distinguished Administrator Award and a Special Tribute from the State of Michigan Legislature.
Beyond his career with the Ontonagon Area Schools, Lou dedicated himself to the continuing education of the graduates of Ontonagon as a founding member of the Ontonagon Area Scholarship Foundation. Since its inception in 1984, the OASF endowment has grown to more than $1 million and has awarded scholarships to more than 575 graduates of the Ontonagon Area School District to assist them with secondary educational expenses. The growth of the OASF endowment remained Lou's primary goal throughout his lifetime.
Lou's involvement with youth development also incorporated the mentoring of junior golfers, and being an integral member of the Gladiator Booster Club, coordinating the building of the new athletic complex at the Ontonagon Area High School. He was also involved with Jaycees, Ontonagon Men's Association, Ontonagon Township Zoning Board, Ontonagon Township Park Board, village of Ontonagon Recreation Committee, and the U.S. Census. He reveled in his membership with Rotary International, acting as the Rotary Youth Exchange Officer for more than 20 years. Through his dedication, dozens of students from the Ontonagon community studied abroad, and numerous international students gained an opportunity to live and study in the Upper Peninsula, enriching both the students' lives and the community.
Lou's life was filled with humor, well sarcasm anyway. He used everyday events to convey "teachable moments" to his children, grandchildren, and really, any children who were willing to listen. When the sun was shining and the grass was green, he golfed. When the snow was falling, he cross-country skied. When it was too cold or rainy to go outside, he sang, played the piano, trumpet or banjo, whistled, and danced to his favorite musicals and songs. When the leaves were falling, he exuberantly cheered for his beloved Michigan Wolverines. When he got tired from all those things, he built a crackling fire and read a book. Lou is described by his grandchildren as one-of-a-kind, a gregarious, snuggly, musical, playful man and a hero who changed their lives.
He is survived by Lois (Salley) Gregory, his wife of nearly 50 years; as well as his daughters, Meredith (Dr. Joseph) Strong and Dr. Jannifer (Tom) David; his grandchildren, Marja, Matthew, Benjamin, Sydney, Campbell and Hayden; his brother, Frank (Greta) Gregory; his sister, Mary Lou Foster; numerous nieces and nephews; many close friends; and his loyal German shorthair, Kate.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Tuesday, May 27, 2014, at noon at Holy Family Catholic Church in Ontonagon. Visitation will begin at 10 a.m. in the church vestibule with the internment at the Holy Family Catholic Cemetery. Relatives and friends are welcome to church services and the reception, immediately following at the Ontonagon Golf Course.
Cane Funeral Home is assisting the family with arrangements.