Gus Lease – the ‘voice of CSEA’ – passes away
Longtime CSR and CSEA activist Gus C. Lease, also known by many as “The Voice of CSEA,” passed away Sept. 4 at the age of 93.
A baritone singer who performed professionally for American troops at home and abroad for two decades and also regaled audiences of the California State Employees Association (CSEA) and its affiliates for decades with a wide array of songs, including “America, the beautiful” and the “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
Since 2011, Lease held the position of District C director on the California State Retirees Board of Directors. District C includes Chapters 1, 3, 21, and 23 in the counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Monterey, Napa, San Benito, San Francisco, San Mateo, Sonoma, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz and Solano. Lease also previously served as a CSEA regional director of CSEA and member of the CSEA Board of Directors for 28 years.
Lease was a professor of music and history at San Jose State University for more than 60 years, working part-time in recent years as an emeritus professor.
Every state retiree, not just the elected representatives, should participate in protecting state pensions and health care, Lease said in earlier interviews. “We should write letters to the editor and get stories out there about the service we have given to the state of California,” Lease said. “We need to get into the worksites to recruit employees before they retire. And I hope we can get every member to join our California State Retiree Political Action Committee. That is where a lot of our strength lies."
In a touching tribute on Facebook, Jeff Lease wrote that in the final minutes of his father’s life, he put on the soundtrack from the movie, “South Pacific.” “In the fourth song, ‘Some Enchanted Evening,’ his lips were moving as if he was singing it. His eyes opened a bit, he looked at my mom and me and then he took his last breath,” Jeff Lease wrote.
A week prior to his death, Gus Lease celebrated his 56th wedding anniversary with his wife, Lois. Jeff Lease said he put every last bit of energy he had into making that an anniversary to be remembered. “He made sure that someone brought him a single red rose to give to my mother.”
Dr. Jeff Lease, Lease’s son, said a memorial will be held at San Jose State University soon. Details will be announced when they become available.