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Former NH school chief, IHSAA commissioner Cato dies

Former NH school chief, IHSAA commissioner Cato dies
Former NH school chief, IHSAA commissioner Cato dies
Gene Cato

C. Eugene Cato, who served at commissioner of the Indiana High School Athletic Association, died Sunday, Oct. 19, 2008. He was 77.
Cato, of Zionsville, was born and reared in Southern Indiana. He graduated in 1949 from Oakland City High School, where he played basketball for his father, the late Alva F. Cato, and went on to become a star basketball player at Oakland City College.
He graduated in 1952 from Oakland City College and served as a teacher and coach at Chandler, Boonville and Zionsville high schools before becoming the principal at Huntingburg High School. He later served as superintendent at North Harrison Community School and Jay County School corporations.
‘It will be a big loss to the education community and the athletic community in Indiana,’ said former North Harrison Supt. Monty Schneider, who Cato hired during his tenure at North Harrison. ‘Mr. Cato gave me my start. I feel real fortunate he gave me that opportunity. I consider him one of my mentors; he taught me a lot. I’ve got a warm place in my heart for him, and I feel for his family.’
Flowing from his passion for athletics and his belief in the intrinsic value of athletic competition on the formation of a child’s character, Cato enthusiastically accepted an invitation to become an IHSAA assistant commissioner in 1976 then the commissioner in 1983, family members said, providing leadership until he retired in 1995.
Cato was married to his high school sweetheart, Lillian Lou Moore, on Sept. 2, 1950. An elementary school teacher herself for 33 years, she shared her husband’s passion to influence student athletes with an equal emphasis on the ‘student’ and the ‘athlete.’ They spent 58 years together teaching, coaching, leading and loving thousands of students and their parents.
Gene Cato leaves behind generations of men and women who have been positively impacted by his well-known ‘Firm, fair and friendly’ approach of caring for others, the family said.
Besides his father, he was preceded in death by an infant son, Terry Gene Cato.
Survivors besides his wife include a sister, Linda Marshall of Zionsville; three daughters, Cathy Lewis of Jasper, Beth Fetters of Carmel and Angie Valentine of Zionsville; and eight grandchildren.
Visitation will be today (Wednesday) from 3 to 8 p.m. and tomorrow from 10 to 11 a.m. at Zionsville Fellowship Church.
The funeral will be tomorrow at 11 a.m. at the church followed by burial in Zionsville Cemetery. Pastor Tom Streeter will officiate. Flanner and Buchanan Funeral Center in Zionsville is handling arrangements.
The family suggests memorial gifts to the C. Eugene Cato Memorial Scholarship Fund, in care of IHSAA, 9150 N. Meridian St., P.O. Box 40650, Indianapolis, IN 46240.