dennis j. grace
May 22, 1953 - July 5, 2013
ELKHART — Dennis J. Grace, 60, of Elkhart, passed away Friday, July 5, 2013, at home after a long battle with cancer.
He was born May 22, 1953, in Erie, Pa., to Robert E. and Pauline (Kuchar) Grace.
Surviving are his best friend, Cheryl (Secaur) Cappelletti; two sons, Christopher of Indianapolis and Michael Grace of New Orleans; two brothers, Thomas (Lynne) Grace of Somerset, N.J., and Robert (Patricia) Grace of Macedonia, Ohio; and a sister, Paula (Thomas) Horne of South Bend. Seven nieces, two great-nieces and four great-nephews also survive.
Dennis graduated from East High School in Erie and attended Penn State Behrend before transferring to Indiana University in Bloomington. While at Penn State, he played baseball and soccer under coach Herb Lauffer and in later years returned to coach both sports.
His career as a coach and teacher included IU, Tri-State, Indiana State, Clemson, Bloomsburg, Penn State Behrend and Notre Dame universities. While at IU, he played under Hoosier coach Jerry Yeagley. When he was a senior, he began a three-year stint coaching the Bloomington Cosmos (high school) team, guiding it to three straight McGuire Cup state championships.
Following graduate school at IU, Dennis assisted coach Yeagley for two years before accepting the head position at Tri-State. He was named Mid-Central Conference coach of the year when Tri-State won the league title. He then traveled to Indiana State at Evansville for a one-year stay before accepting an assistant spot at Clemson, followed by a year at Bloomsburg.
In 1984, he moved to South Bend to become the head coach for men’s soccer at Notre Dame. He also started the women’s soccer program there. He was the Great Lakes Region Coach of the Year and Midwestern Collegiate Conference Coach of the Year while at Notre Dame. He took the team to the NCAA Division 1 tournament for the first time. He also served on the Adidas Soccer Advisory Board and as executive director of the Michiana Soccer Association.
Visitation will be from 5 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, July 10, 2013, at Stemm-Lawson-Peterson Funeral Home in Elkhart. A Mass of Christian Burial will be at 9:30 a.m. Thursday, July 11, 2013, at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart on the Notre Dame campus. Inurnment will be in St. Joseph Valley Memorial Park at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Dennis Grace Memorial Fund, c/o Indiana Soccer Foundation, 5440 Herbert Lord Road, Indianapolis, IN 46216, to support an annual coaching clinic in Dennis’ name that will take place in Bloomington. In addition, a young coach who successfully completes an Indiana soccer coaching course will be annually recognized with the Dennis Grace Award “for their desire to improve the lives of youth through the sport of soccer.” Dennis was very active in Bloomington youth soccer while at Indiana University.
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