Larry LeJeune, a former member of the Board of Trustees, died Aug. 12.
He joined the St. Thomas board in 2003 and served until 2013.
“I am so grateful for the many opportunities I have had over the years to spend time with Larry and his wife, Jean. Larry was very caring and such a genuine and humble person,” President Julie Sullivan said. “I will miss his constant warm smile and the twinkle in his eyes. He was extremely devoted to his family and very proud of his children and grandchildren.”
Five of LeJeune’s grandchildren graduated from St. Thomas, including: Joseph Johnson ’04, ’08 J.D./MBA; Nicholas Johnson ’07; Gabrielle LeJeune ’08; Andrew LeJeune ’15 J.D./MBA; and Charles LeJeune ’13, ’15 M.S.L.
President Emeritus Father Dennis Dease, who was St. Thomas’ president during LeJeune’s time on the board, added, “Larry was an ardent supporter of St. Thomas, a hardworking member of its Board of Trustees and one of the nicest persons you could ever hope to meet. He was the quintessential gentleman.”
LeJeune also was one of the School of Law’s founding benefactors and a former chair of its Board of Governors, where he and his wife were the namesakes of the Laurence and Jean LeJeune Distinguished Chair.
“Larry was a founding benefactor of the law school who championed our mission and lent his considerable business acumen to our start-up efforts. He was also deeply relational, always taking time to share a kind word of encouragement,” School of Law Dean Robert Vischer said. “He and his wife Jean brought a warm and welcoming spirit to every encounter. Relationships always came first, and Larry’s legacy at the law school will be measured in the strength of the community we build.”
During World War II, Larry’s father worked in a New Brighton arms plant for Reuben Anderson, the father of former St. Thomas trustee Lee Anderson. The elder LeJeune used a bonus from a project to start a steel fabrication business.
After graduating from DeLaSalle High School, Larry went to the University of Minnesota for a year and St. Thomas for a semester before devoting himself to the family business. He and one of his brothers bought the business in 1967.
LeJeune bought out his brother in 1977 and eventually sold LeJeune Steel to Lee, who had taken over his father’s business and expanded it into a conglomerate of companies, APi Group.
LeJeune then invested in various business ventures. He purchased Carousel Autos in Golden Valley in 1981 and later purchased Maplewood Imports.
“Larry is one of my true heroes,” Mike Dougherty, a St. Thomas alumnus and trustee, said in a 2005 St. Thomas magazine article. “He’s an extremely good businessman. But more important, he is the best husband and father I know. His values are impeccable. He is a role model for everybody.”
LeJeune also served on the boards of Richfield Bank; Tescom, Inc.; Minneapolis Builders Exchange; American Institute of Steel Construction; Decathlon Athletic Club; Vaughn’s, Inc.; Fabcon, Inc.; Timber Lodge Steakhouse, Inc.; DeLaSalle High School; and Lundstrom Center for the Performing Arts. He was a member of the DeLaSalle High School Hall of Fame.
Survivors include Jean; daughters Lisa LeJeune, Laura LeJeune, Renee Hallberg and Amy Krane; son Mike LeJeune; 13 grandchildren; and 14 great-grandchildren.
A Celebration of Life will be held at 4 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 6, at Wayzata Country Club. Burial service will be private.