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Former Chapel Hill Town Council member Gene Pease remembered by family, former colleagues

Photo Courtesy of Tiffany Grandstaff.

"Everybody who knew Gene Pease thought he was a great guy," his wife Pamela Pease said. 

Pease, a former Chapel Hill Town Council member, died in his home in Marina del Rey, Calif., on Sept. 10 from prostate cancer. He was 73 years old. 

He is survived by his wife Pamela, his two daughters Tiffany Grandstaff and Heather Pease, his three siblings and his daughters’ families. 

Pease served on the council from 2009 to 2013.

He was born in Toledo, Ohio in 1950. He studied architecture at the University of Cincinnati and received his MBA in entrepreneurship from the University of Southern California. 

When he was attending Cincinnati, he met Pamela, a sweetheart for his fraternity and a fellow design major.

“We just sort of hit it off," Pamela Pease said. "I mean, we both had such an interest in design, which is one of the things that drew us together."

The two married and moved to Los Angeles in 1975 and had two daughters by 1984. 

The Pease family moved to Chapel Hill in 1996 so Gene could be the CEO of sports apparel company Chalkline, Trench & Rival. 

In Chapel Hill, he became involved in the community through public service, serving as the president of the Chapel Hill Public Library Foundation, the founding chair of the Triangle Community Foundation and a Chapel Hill Town Council member. 

Former Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt said because of Pease’s expertise in organizational development, he was interested in finding new ways for municipal systems to work better. 

“Before he became a council member, he began to demonstrate a lot of interest in how the town was managed,” Kleinschmidt said. 

Pamela Pease said that her husband was an out-of-the-box candidate for town council. 

“He was a very independent thinker, and not particularly political in terms of what was going on in the town, but he had a lot of really good ideas about how to solve problems,” she said. 

Kleinschmidt said that though the two were on opposite slates during election season, they always showed each other mutual respect.

He said that their different views allowed them to become close friends on the council and to see the bigger picture of how they could best serve Chapel Hill. 

“What I bonded with Gene over was that we both recognize that our different views and perspectives on things actually, when brought together, created a clearer picture of what was the best route to take,” he said. 

Laurin Easthom, who ran for town council with Pease in 2009, said that he was a pleasant person to be around. She described him as affable, creative and thoughtful — but what stood out to her the most during their time together was his sense of humor. 

“He could just keep us really laughing,” she said. 

Tiffany Grandstaff said that her father was a person who could light up any room. 

“When he would arrive, the whole dynamic would change,” Grandstaff said. 

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She said this was especially true at family reunions and everyone would gravitate toward him.

“He loved to have a good time with family,” Heather Pease said. 

Four months ago, Gene Pease posted on LinkedIn, explaining his fight with cancer and reflecting on the people who were important in his life. 

Pam, Tiffany and Heather said they would miss the little things Gene did — like bringing his wife flowers, playing with toy trains, watching Tom and Jerry with his grandkids and giving advice to his daughters. 

“He really wanted to help make the world a better place in so many ways,” Pamela Pease said. 

@DTHCityState |

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