Longtime Gonzaga University and community leader
Harry H. Sladich succumbed to prostate cancer Jan. 6.
(Photo: Allen Hubbard)
SPOKANE, Wash. – Longtime Gonzaga University Vice President Harry H. Sladich, 70, died at his Spokane home Tuesday evening following a courageous battle with prostate cancer, Gonzaga President Rev. Robert J. Spitzer, S.J., announced today.
“His contributions to the University are legendary,” said Rev. Spitzer.
A vigil service will be held at 7 p.m., Monday, Jan. 12 in St. Aloysius Church on the Gonzaga campus. The funeral Mass will begin at 10:30 a.m., Tuesday, Jan. 13, also at St. Aloysius Church. A reception will follow the funeral Mass at Gonzaga's Cataldo Hall, located directly north of the chuch; burial will take place at Holy Cross Cemetery later in the day.
Sladich is survived by wife Marguerite and their three children: Harry G. Sladich; Jennifer M. Piani, a 1985 alumna; and Suzanne Heutmaker, a 1989 GU alumna. Services are being handled by Hennessey-Smith Funeral Home in Spokane.
“I know how much so many of you will miss Harry as I and my fellow administrators do right now,” Rev. Spitzer noted in a message to the Gonzaga University community earlier today. “Harry’s good heart, sound judgment, work ethic, knowledge of Gonzaga and, above all, his love for the University and the many individuals constituting it will be irreplaceable. Harry was a mentor and a father figure to so many of us.”
Sladich was born Jan. 9, 1938, in Anaconda, Mont., and served Gonzaga in multiple roles for 49 years. He came to Gonzaga first as a student and earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University in 1959 and an MBA in 1967.
Sladich stepped down from full-time service to Gonzaga as vice president of administration and planning in 2001 and was honored then by Gonzaga’s Board of Trustees as Trustee Emeritus. He continued to serve Gonzaga part time as vice president until his death. In that capacity, he continued as corporate secretary and as secretary of the Board of Trustees and Board of Regents (as his health allowed). He served as secretary for the Board of Trustees for 28 years.
Prior to becoming a vice president in 1983, Sladich served 12 years as assistant to the president. His many roles at Gonzaga included acting president. He is the only non-Jesuit to become Gonzaga’s president, twice: in 1991 and from 1997-98 – some of the University’s most difficult years.
Sladich began his service to Gonzaga during his undergraduate days as president of both the Montana Club and the Senior Class. His equally strong commitment to the community led him to serve on the boards of American Red Cross, United Way of Spokane County, the Higher Education Coordinating Board, Museum of Native American Cultures, Washington State Catholic Conference, and South Side Catholic Schools. A graduate of Leadership Spokane, Class of 1988, he received Gonzaga’s Distinguished Alumni Merit Award in 1996.
The Gonzaga University Board of Trustees passed a unanimous resolution honoring Sladich at its regular meeting Dec. 12 (2008) in Seattle. The resolution described his many accomplishments on behalf of his beloved alma mater. It noted Sladich offered invaluable service to Gonzaga’s Jesuit Presidents Revs. Bernard J. Coughlin and Robert J. Spitzer, and was a catalyst for good will and benefaction to Gonzaga, especially with the Montana community and a close-knit, informal Gonzaga alumni group known as the Butte Rats in particular.
The resolution also stated Sladich was an outstanding friend and confidant to Gonzaga's presidents, 12 Board chairs, and hundreds of Trustees, Regents, benefactors, colleagues and friends.
Sladich received the DeSmet Medal – Gonzaga highest honor – in May 2007 and received the Top Dog award, the highest award given by the Board of Trustees, in November 2008.
In closing, the December resolution from Gonzaga’s Board of Trustees declared Sladich a most loyal Gonzaga alumnus and Trustee Emeritus, and stated that his photo and name be included among Gonzaga’s presidents, on the second floor of College Hall (formerly the Administration Building), and that a new award for loyalty to Gonzaga be started in his name.
In closing his message to the Gonzaga community today, Rev. Spitzer wrote that Harry Sladich would appreciate the thoughts and prayers from the University community.
“He was a man of deep faith and love, and repeatedly told me that my prayers were the most important gift to him,” Rev. Spitzer noted. “I know his wife Marguerite, children Harry Jr., Jennifer and Suzanne and his many grandchildren would also appreciate your prayers.”
An article about Sladich and his amazing work at Gonzaga can be found in the Summer 2007 issue of Gonzaga Quarterly online.
For more information, please contact Dale Goodwin at (509) 313-6133 or firstname.lastname@example.org.