DRAPER – Students, parents and staff at Juan Diego Catholic High School are mourning the loss of Larry Gonzales, the school’s much-loved maintenance man for the last 10 years.
Gonzales, 66, died Oct. 28, after contracting COVID-19, followed by pneumonia. (See his obituary on p. 5.) The father of two and grandfather of five, Gonzales was considered a member of the family by the Juan Diego community. He assumed the unofficial role of “Proud Parent of All Students” immediately upon arriving on campus, Vice Principal John Colosimo said. Gonzales would often attend school games, plays and other activities.
“Afterwards he would seek out participants, and no matter how well or poorly they performed he would tell them they ‘did good’ and offer a fist bump to seal the deal,” Colosimo said.
“He would often stand back and stand tall, much like an eagle looking over its brood, to observe; and he was singular in his observation, oblivious to the outside world, only enjoying what he saw,” Colosimo added. “It was as if there was a large, ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign across his brow. He loved the people of Juan Diego and they loved him.”
When news of Gonzales’ illness spread across campus, the school administration received a flood of emails from concerned parents, students and former Juan Diego employees. All commented on Gonzales’ impact on them.
“Imagine that a shy, unassuming man of faith made a difference simply by his kind words, his faith and his love for his fellow man making the world a better place to be, just like Saint Juan Diego, a humble man low on society’s pecking order called by God to make the world a better place,” Colosimo said in tribute. “‘Juan Diego, build me a church,’ Our Lady of Guadalupe commanded the poor Indian to do. ‘Make the school a better place,’ a humble, unassuming Larry Gonzales was instructed to do. Maybe he was just that, a modern-day Juan Diego, sent to his namesake school to deliver the message of love. ‘Love one another,’ Christ said, and Larry did just that for all the people of Juan Diego Catholic High School.”
In honor of Gonzales’ many contributions, the schools at the Skaggs Catholic Center campus are creating The Larry Gonzales Memorial Scholarship, or Larry’s Legacy, for tuition assistance.
“Larry was not only dedicated to his faith but to our campus and our students. Larry was always praying for our students and families, and the establishment of such a scholarship in his name will help to keep Larry’s legacy on our campus for generations to come, helping to provide Catholic education to families and their students in need,” said April van der Sluys, Juan Diego CHS advancement coordinator.
To contribute to the development of this scholarship, visit jdchs.org/support-jdcs.