On Saturday, July 15, 2017, Julian Lawrence Laca’s life on this earth ended peacefully after a long fought battle with Alzheimer’s. He was surrounded by his devoted family, and their families, who were able to tell him how much he meant to them and to give him permission to go into the arms of Jesus.
Julian was a unique man. Rumor has it that he was the tallest Basque in the world at 6’8”, an intimidating presence until you met him. He was a loving and caring husband, father, grandfather, brother, friend and educator. Julian was a true servant leader and found joy in his 35-year career as an educator and coach in 3 different communities: Parma, Wilder and Fruitland. He loved Parma and over his 57 years residency he served as a member of Lions Club, planning and zoning, city council, coach of little league basketball, baseball and track. He supported Parma athletics in any capacity needed. He spent countless hours in the gym that upon retirement to honor his dedication, it was named the Julian Laca Gymnasium.
After his daughter Marcy married into the Gonzaga basketball family his passion became Zag basketball and he was privileged to follow the team all over the US. Coaching must be in the family genes as daughter Chrissy went on to marry a baseball coach. So summer evenings were spent watching or listening to minor league baseball games. As a true grandfather, “Papo” also watched many of his grandkids’ athletic events no matter what the weather.
Julian was the son of Basque immigrants, John and Gregoria Laca. He was born May 2, 1938 in Ontario, Oregon. He spent his youth living in New Plymouth, McDermitt and Ontario. When he started school he didn’t speak a word of English yet ironically began his career teaching English and PE. After graduation from Ontario High School he was offered a full ride scholarship to play basketball at The College of Idaho where he was a four-year starting center. It was at the College of Idaho that he met many lifelong friends including his wife of 54 years, Eileen Moule.
Julian and Eileen were married in 1963 and Eileen began teaching first grade in Parma. In 1966 after the birth of their son John, Julian earned his Master’s Degree in Educational Administration at the University of Idaho and Eileen was able to be a fulltime mom. Later Julian was hired as Parma’s counselor; later junior high principal. In 1969, he had an opportunity to become the Superintendent of Schools in Wilder. The school and the community welcomed him and his family but he realized after two years how much he missed the daily interaction with students. He accepted a position at Fruitland High School as the Principal until returning to Parma School District where he finished out his career. In true Julian fashion, he remained close friends with many of the people he worked with in both Wilder and Fruitland. He was a well-liked and respected administrator in all three communities. His openness and approachability resulted in him being able to mentor many people in various facets of their life.
Julian had many hobbies in his life … fishing, golfing, playing city league basketball and softball, coaching, playing cards and cribbage with his buddies and then also his children and grandchildren. He was competitive until the end, even hated losing to his grandkids. Julian enjoyed giving coaching advice over the years. He didn’t expect pay for his coaching expertise, and he sat on many a bench in girl’s and boys’ basketball giving endless support and doing his signature clap. He was a long-time member of the Third District Coaches Association and Board of Control. In honor of his many years of service, the association named the Lifetime Member Award after him.
Eileen was truly the love of his life, his anchor, and her devotion to him was a living testament to the vows taken at marriage. Julian and Eileen were richly blessed with 4 children: John (Nicole) Laca and their son Jayce; Angie (Ben) Krauss and their children Noelani, Abraham and Makena; Marcy (Mark) Few and their children AJ, Joe, Julia and Colt; and Chrissy (Gary) Van Tol and their children Gehrig, Amaia, Peyton and Gibson. Also one sister, Angie Good (her late husband Frank), and her children, Greg (Sherri) and Steve Good, Nancy (John) Kiesewetter and nephews Carson and Jack. He also had cousins from Reno, Nevada and numerous sisters-in-law and brothers-in-law from Eileen’s family who Julian truly loved and enjoyed.
Julian was a life-long Catholic and a member of Our Lady of the Valley Church in Caldwell. Julian lived his faith as evidenced in his humility and actions. He visited the sick, he helped people when they needed it, he was kind and considerate and had a heart for the vulnerable. He had spirit of generosity, laughter and joy that was contagious. He was described by a former student as a giant of man with a heart even bigger.
His funeral will be at Our Lady of the Valley Catholic Church on Friday, July 21st at 4:00 p.m. under the direction of Dakan Funeral Chapel, Caldwell with dinner to follow to celebrate his life. All are welcome. Condolences may be shared at www.dakanfuneralchapel.com
In addition to the many friends who visited, the family will be forever grateful to Heart n’ Home Hospice, Susan Bennett, Steve Jones, Bob Schaefer and Larry and Pam Haddock for all their help with Julian these past few months.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to Heart n’ Home Hospice, 822 S 10th Ave, Caldwell, ID 83605 or Parma High Athletics (Basketball and Track programs) at 137 Panther Way, Parma, ID 83660.