Eugene L'Heureux
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Eugene L'Heureux
  • September 20, 1939 - December 4, 2017
  • Tempe, Arizona

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Eugene "Gene" L'Heureux passed away in Tempe on Monday, December 4, 2017, surrounded by his loving family. He was born September 20, 1939 in New York. He joined the Army in 1956 at the age of 17 and, with a fascination for new machines called "computers", became an IT specialist programming missile flight.
While stationed in Marine City, Michigan, Gene came upon his next lifelong fascination by way of a picture of an attractive female in the wallet of an Army buddy's girlfriend. He insisted on knowing where to find her and soon was introduced to Catherine Kelly who he pursued vigorously until she agreed to marry him in 1960 and became his beloved partner and best friend for life.
In 1972, Gene was offered a position as Operations Manager/Data Processing at Ambassador Leather International in Tempe, Arizona at which time they moved to Arizona against Catherine's strong protest. Fortunately for Gene, she grew to love Arizona.
In 1979, Gene moved to Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona, advancing rapidly to the position of Director of Internal Operations where he became an integral part of the company for many years
Gene was an avid outdoorsman. This lead him to extensive involvement in organizations like Anglers United and Ducks Unlimited. Soon after arriving in Arizona, Gene discovered his next fascination - houseboats. He began renting various vessels, soon determining he was destined to own one. Soon thereafter, Gene became the proud owner of the "Tristar", affectionately known by all as his "rusted out pontoon tub".
Gene also had a passion for giving back to the community around him. This eventually lead to what became one of his greatest passions - the Tempe Diablos. Gene was invited into the Diablos in 1988 and quickly embraced many of their numerous programs benefitting the youth of Tempe as well as the fundraising associated with them. He soon rose through the leadership ranks of the Diablos becoming their president in 1996 and affectionately known by his Diablo brothers as their "Napoleonic Emperor" in honor of his French heritage. "Geno", as he was known by his Diablo family, was active in the Diablos until his passing and became one of its most beloved members in the organization's 50-year history.
Gene's love for houseboats eventually evolved to his acquisition of "Desperado", a beautiful custom vessel made in the backwoods of Kentucky to which he and several of his new partners traveled to oversee its design. Upon describing their visit, they noted the sure loneliness of the town orthodontist, the importance of following their road map to avoid the guns of moonshiners and the amazing aluminum welding skills of the boat builders.
Desperado became Gene's chief recreational passion at Lake Powell on which he entertained countless friends while becoming a master houseboat mechanic. This acquired skill brought Gene equally countless opportunities to "clean-up" the problems created by his mechanically challenged partners and to rescue numerous fellow boaters in distress - both of which, Gene responded to cheerfully. And he was known to rein-in and scold many a partner from time to time.
One of Gene's favorite traditions was to host periodic trips for friends aboard the Desperado. The guests often included talented chefs, cocktails were plentiful, jet skis were fast, card games were beyond entertaining and the jokes were hilarious. And then, there were the fireworks. Gene bought fireworks for these trips by the pallet and many of them were quite powerful. However, the rangers at Lake Powell don't like fireworks - especially powerful ones. This made for some awkward - though humorous confrontations, a few fines and some surprisingly avoided jail time.
Gene had several other hobbies, all of which he became quite good at. He was a talented photographer, a true craftsman with stained-glass, he enjoyed years of great fishing with his "fishing partner" and he loved playing golf. He relished his days of golfing and "Men's Clubbing" with his buddies at Ken McDonald Golf Course in Tempe and eventually changed his email address to tempegolfer@mac.com.
Gene has spent his recent years as an independent health insurance agent while grooming his beloved granddaughter, Cynthia to take the reins of the business. She's learned it quickly and made him enormously proud. He adored his family.
Gene was the consummate friend who would continually go out of his way to help anyone in his world who needed assistance. He had a contagious zest for life, was truly loved by all who knew him and, in many ways, personified human kindness and outreach. His was a life to be truly celebrated by all. He is survived by his loving wife Catherine, their son Paul and his wife Cassandra, their granddaughter Cynthia and her fianc Aaron Sycamore, his brother Raymond and his wife Susan, their grandson Travis Richmond and wife Jocelyn and their daughter Sophia.
A Celebration Mass for Gene will be held Tuesday December 12th at 10:00 am at the Church of the Holy Spirit, 1800 E Libra Dr. in Tempe. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Holy Spirit Catholic Church - Tabernacle Fund in memory of Gene L'Heureux.