By Megan G. Razzetti
Former East Los Angeles College Director of Athletics and Coach Gerald “Jerry” Heaps died Jan. 2, leaving behind a legendary example of integrity for Elans to learn from.
Born in Boone, Iowa on Jan. 31, 1938, he grew up in Los Angeles since the age of 2. Athletic Director Al Cone said Heaps was respected and treasured by all.
His love for sports ignited when he began playing football at Fremont High School.
The love of the game never left him as he followed his alma mater the University of California at Los Angeles’ Bruins football team, never missing a game.
“Every Saturday he made time for a Bruins game,” Heap’s son Jerald “Jerry Jr.” Heaps said.
In fact, he made time for everyone, especially his family.
The support for his children throughout their lives was instrumental to their growing up.
“When I was younger I played water polo,” Jerry Jr. said, “He was at every match I had.”
His son accredits his father’s religious beliefs as the source of his strong character.
“He was a strong man of God,” said Jerry, “he loved the Lord with his heart and soul.”
He was not only devoted to his family, but also to those he worked with not just with students but also with staff in other departments at ELAC.
Heaps started his ELAC career in 1968. He coached gymnastics, men’s swimming and football.
He also taught Physical Education classes such as indoor soccer, swimming and weightlifting.
He mentored colleagues because he believed in them and saw the potential they didn’t see in themselves.
“I wouldn’t be the Director of Athletics if it wasn’t for Jerry Heaps,” Al Cone said.
“Jerry had spent a great deal of time convincing me that this would be an ideal situation for me,” Cone said.
Heaps didn’t only encourage Cone he also helped Head Baseball Coach James Hines when he first started working at ELAC.
“He gave me my first coaching job as an assistant coach,” Hines said, “He eventually took a chance and made me head coach of the baseball team.”
His love for ELAC didn’t only involve sports but also education. Helping others through education along with his wife, Elizabeth, also a teacher, was rewarding but also inspiring.
“My parents influence on the community through education inspired my sisters and I,” said Jerry Jr., “we all have at least a bachelor’s degree.”
Heaps retired in 2000 shortly after his first grandchild was born. He spent his retirement caring for and supporting his grandchildren.
His wife Elizabeth, his three children and four grandchildren survive him.