March 14, 1925 – May 14, 2015
Leonard Eugene Tritsch, 90 passed away on Thursday, May 14, 2015. He was born on March 15, 1925, in Hewitt, Minnesota, to Arthur C. Tritsch and Della O. Habben Tritsch. He graduated from Hewitt High School in 1943 and received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in 1949 from Hamline University and was awarded an Outstanding Achievement Award from Hamline in 1989. Len also received a Master of Science degree from the University of Oregon in 1969. In 1994, he was placed into the Hamline University Hall of Fame.
During World War II, Len served in the U.S. Navy on a troop transport ship, transporting troops to locations in the Pacific, such as Okinawa.
After graduating from Hamline University, Len devoted the first seventeen years as a public school teacher and an athletic coach in Minnesota to the health and well-being of youth. Later, he taught college level health education at four universities, including the University of Oregon. Len served as the Health Education Specialist for the Oregon Department of Education. Len’s dedication and commitment to school health education impacted Oregon’s public school curriculum and influenced the lifelong health behaviors of significant numbers of people in all age groups. He served on the Oregon Governor’s Council for Aging and was consulted on the development of a state-of-the-art housing facility for low-income seniors.
His passion for coaching, fitness and health led him to start “A Week to Build a Lifetime” that was the theme for the Seaside Health Promotion Conference. For almost three decades, teams of educators and community members from across Oregon met for a week at the Oregon coast to focus on wellness. There were years when the SHPC exceeded 1,000 attendees. Len created an atmosphere where the conference greeting was a “HUG.” This wellness conference became a model for twenty-six other states, so Len’s legacy of wellness lives on. He led fitness groups and workshops for senior fitness in both Seattle, Washington and Seaside, Oregon for many years.
During this time, Len authored several books, including Health Instruction: An Action Approach, Published by Prentice-Hall. Because of his health experience, he served as a consultant on the national level as a trainer for the AIDS education project for the American Association of School Administrators. One of his many honors was an award from Surgeon General C. Everett Koop for his contributions to health program throughout the country.
Len served as President of Mature Friends for six years and was the first recipient of the “Achievement Award” for an outstanding volunteer, and in 2014, the group honored him with a “Legacy Award.” He also started and led the exercise group for this club for over twenty years.
He served as President of the Seattle Frontrunners and on the board of the Gay and Lesbian International Sports Association (GLISA). Len started and coached a Seattle Frontrunners track team in 1994 and led the team to the Gay Games and OutGames in New York City, Amsterdam, Sydney, Montreal, and Antwerp, during the past 23 years. Len set new records for his age group in the 100, 200, and 400 meters at the 1998 Gay Games in Amsterdam. He changed the life of many people who had never stepped on the track before and changed their health forever. The track team became Len’s family and track members help to care and manage his care during the past year.
Len is survived by his older brother, Harold L. Tritsch and is preceded in death by his parents and sister-in-law.
An Oregon Celebration of Life will be held on Saturday, June 20, 2015 at 1:00-3:00 at the Seaside Convention Center.