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Celebration of life for Gus Lease is set for Oct. 1 at SJSU

Posted 5 years 287 days ago ago by Jamee Villa   

Music was his life, so it is fitting that the celebration of life for Gus C. Lease will be in the Music Building Concert Hall at San Jose State University at 1 p.m. Oct. 1. A reception will follow on the lawn between the Music Building and the SJSU Event Center.

Lease, also known to many as “The Voice of CSEA,” passed away Sept. 4 at the age of 93.

 A baritone singer who performed professionally for American troops at home and abroad for two decades, Lease also regaled audiences of the California State Employees Association (CSEA) and its affiliates for decades with a wide array of songs, including “America, the Beautiful” and the “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Since 2011, Lease held the position of District C director on the California State Retirees Board of Directors. District C includes CSR Chapters 1, 3, 21 and 23 in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Chapter 3 President Mary McDonnell was appointed to the District C position and will serve the remainder of Lease’s term, which ends in February 2017. McDonnell has also served on CSR committees, including the CSR Bylaws & Governing Rules Committee. 

Other positions Lease held included CSEA regional director and member of the CSEA Board of Directors for 28 years.

Lease was a professor of music and history at San Jose State University for more than 60 years, working part-time in recent years as an emeritus professor. He sang at the university’s homecoming games and many more events for as many years as he taught.
Every state retiree, not just the elected representatives, should participate in protecting state pensions and health care, Lease said in earlier interviews. “We should write letters to the editor and get stories out there about the service we have given to the state of California,” Lease said. “We need to get into the worksites to recruit employees before they retire. And I hope we can get every member to join our California State Retiree Political Action Committees. That is where a lot of our strength lies."

Dr. Jeff Lease, Lease’s son, wrote a touching tribute on Facebook, recounting that in the final minutes of his father’s life, he put on the soundtrack from the movie, “South Pacific.” “In the fourth song, ‘Some Enchanted Evening,’ his lips were moving as if he was singing it. His eyes opened a bit, he looked at my mom and me and then he took his last breath,” Jeff Lease wrote. “The beautiful sound of his voice will live with all of us forever, and I feel blessed to have had so many wonderful years with him here on this earth. He was my rock, my role model, my inspiration for love of life and passion for education.”

A week prior to his death, Gus Lease celebrated his 56th wedding anniversary with his wife, Lois. Jeff Lease said he put every last bit of energy he had into making that an anniversary to be remembered. "He made sure that someone brought him a single red rose to give to my mother."

Donations are being accepted to the Gus and Lois Lease Endowment, an organization that invests in innovative projects, student scholarships, technology and more at San Jose State University.

Go to the SJSU donation page at http://www.sjsu.edu/giving/where-to-give/sjsufund/index.html

Click on "Give Now." In the text box labeled, "Other Purpose,” type in "Gus and Lois Lease Endowment."

There is also a place to write an “in honor of” note that will be sent to Lois Lease and her family.