Eugene (Gene) DesJarlais of Wolcott, CT, passed away on June 18th, 2020 in Scottsdale, AZ. He was surrounded by loved ones for the remaining weeks and moments of his life.
Gene DesJarlais was born in Norwich, CT on October 23 1940, the son of Gerard and Theresa(Dupont) DesJarlais. A graduate of St. Joseph’s Grammar School and Sacred Heart High School in Waterbury, CT, Gene went on to earn a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics and a Master of Arts in Math Education from Fairfield University.
A dedicated educator for over 50 years, Gene began his career teaching math at Ansonia High School, followed by a 33 year career at Wolcott High School that began in 1966. His early years in teaching also included several summers teaching in the Upward Bound program at Wooster School in Danbury, CT. During his time at Wolcott High School, Gene served as the Math Department Head, advisor to several clubs and student organizations, and coached Cross Country and Track and Field for over 20 years. His tenure as a coach included a team state championship and many individual champions. Upon retiring, Gene took advantage of an opportunity to “help out” teaching Calculus at his alma mater, Sacred Heart, extending his teaching career for an additional 15 years. Gene DesJarlais was proud of and humbled by the thousands of students he impacted over the course of 50 years as a teacher, coach, and mentor. Gene’s career as an educator was also characterized by his own love of learning. In 1968, through a grant, he was one of the first teachers to bring computers into the classroom in the state of Connecticut. In the 1980’s he received a Fellowship from the CBIA to work at CIGNA during vacations to work on managing data processing efficiency through a national network. Gene was also one of a handful of teachers contacted by the University of Connecticut to develop and teach a Calculus course as part of the UCONN Co-op program, which awards college credit to high school students. In 2007, The UCONN Early College Experience Program recognized Gene with a Lifetime Achievement Award. At the age of 72, Gene received funding through the National Science Foundation to study Fractal Geometry under Benoit Mandelbrot at Yale University. Gene was energized by these experiences and they contributed to the longevity of his career.
Gene was active in the town of Wolcott, he was a member of the Wolcott Jaycees and enjoyed promoting and participating in many local activities. He served as the town’s chairperson for the nation’s bicentennial celebration in 1976 and co-chaired the town’s bicentennial celebration in 1996.
Gene loved his church, St. Pius X. During his membership, he served on the parish council, was a trustee for three years, taught CCD, served as a lector, a minister of the Eucharist, and sang in the choir. Gene loved music, especially drum corps and marching band music. In his youth, he was a state and northeastern states champion fifer with St. Joseph Fife and Drum Corps. Later he would learn to play the bugle and marched with the World Champion Connecticut Hurricanes, appearing at Carnegie Hall twice with this group.
DesJarlais’ beloved wife of 56 years, Carol, passed away in September of 2019. He is survived by his daughters Betsy DesJarlais and her partner Linda Jackson of Scottsdale, AZ, Amy Traver and her husband, Wayne of Southington, CT, and Suzanne DesJarlais of Manchester, CT. He adored his grandchildren, Ben and Aaron Paden, Hannah and Christian Traver, and Lindsey and Bryce Curtis. His sister, Elaine Creel lives in San Antonio, TX. He is predeceased by his parents and a brother Richard, who died shortly after birth.
Due to Covid-19, there will be no calling hours; the funeral and burial will be private. The family plans a public memorial in the future to allow for friends, family, and community members to celebrate Gene’s life. If you are interested please send your contact information to firstname.lastname@example.org
Scholarships in memory of Gene DesJarlais are being set up at both Sacred Heart High School and Wolcott High School. To contribute, write a check out to either Sacred Heart High School or to Wolcott High School and send to Suzanne DesJarlais, P.O.Box 1943, 111 Sheldon Rd., Manchester, CT 06042-0140.