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Brother of former IU chancellor Ken Gros Louis remembers close relationship


Then-Chancellor Ken Gros Louis talks to students during a 2009 fireside chat in the Great Room of the Hutton Honors College. Gros Louis died Thursday at the age of 80. IDS file photo Buy Photos

A granite nameplate sat on the desk of former IU chancellor Ken Gros Louis for years. It was a Christmas present given to him by his brother, Francis Gros Louis, around 2012.

Francis Gros Louis, 87, said he and his brother were very similar in that they were both “people-persons.”

“We’ve been very close through the years,” Francis Gros Louis said. 

Francis Gros Louis currently lives in Leesburg, Virginia, but is flying in for the memorial service.

Because he lives in an assisted-living community, Francis Gros Louis said there was initial concern that it would be difficult to travel to Indiana, but it was very important for him to speak at the service. 

“I will be there even if they have to carry me in on a stretcher,” Francis Gros Louis said. 

He said he and his brother used to joke about Francis Gros Louis being seven years older and having heart problems, and these jokes carried over to the last day they spoke. 

“We used to kid all the time that I’d surely go before him,” Francis Gros Louis said. 

At 3:30 on Oct. 19, Francis Gros Louis came back to his room on the eleventh floor of his assisted-living building to find three missed calls from his brother. He called them back, fearing something was wrong. 

“No, I just felt that I needed to talk to you,” Ken Gros Louis said. 

Francis Gros Louis said they talked for several hours that evening. It was the last time they spoke. He knew Ken Gros Louis had called his daughters earlier that week as well. 

Francis Gros Louis said he wondered if his brother had had some kind of premonition, but now no one would ever know for sure. 

Francis Gros Louis said his brother had been his support since his wife of 64 years had entered the nursing home with Alzheimer’s disease in December 2015. 

“Over the years, every wonderful, delightful, thrill, experience and emotion life has had to offer has been mine thanks to him,” he wrote in a tribute for his brother. 

In the tribute, Francis Gros Louis also said he remembers vacations with his brother on New Hampshire’s coast and Ken Gros Louis’ dedication to IU. He said his brother’s love of working with students shone through in many conversations. 

“He always told me that when he met with campus leaders he liked their fresh way they looked at life, he liked their confidence, their courage, and their optimism because they had tomorrow in their eyes” Francis Gros Louis wrote. “On many occasions to he told me his life would be a sorry, stagnant, boring standstill time without them.”

Visitation services for Ken Gros Louis will be 4-8 p.m. Oct. 25 at Day & Deremiah-Frye Funeral Home in Bloomington.

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