PALATINE HILL -- Jerry Gatto, the winningest coach in Lewis & Clark history, died on Tuesday after losing a battle with an aggressive form of leukemia. His death came just two days after celebrating his 80th birthday.
Named Northwest Conference Coach of the Year six times during his 22 seasons as Pioneers baseball coach (1981-2002), he led Lewis & Clark to three Northwest Conference championships, five NAIA District 2 titles and a berth in the 1990 NAIA Area 1 World Series.
During Gatto's coaching tenure at Lewis & clark, his teams posted an overall record of 395-381-3.
He served as Lewis & Clark's director of athletics for three years and was director of athletics development for 10 years.
Coach Gatto's inspirational "I believe" leadership impacted the student-athletes he coached and prompted more than 70 of them to launch a Jerry Gatto Endowment Fund at Lewis & Clark in 2015. It took the group only four months to raise the funds necessary to establish the endowment designated to support the travel, facility and operations needs of the baseball program at Lewis & Clark.
In February, the college announced the start of fundraising efforts to improve the Huston Sports Complex and dedicate an upgraded baseball field in Jerry Gatto's honor.
Gatto is in the Lewis & Clark Athletics Hall of Fame with his 1981 and 1990 teams and in the NAIA District II Hall of Fame, and was named West Coast Coach of the Year after leading the Pioneers to the 1990 NAIA World Series.
A life-long resident of Portland, Gatto attended Central Catholic High School and graduated from Portland in 1961 with a degree in health and physical education. He obtained a master's degree in counseling and guidance from Portland State a year later.
Before coming to Lewis & Clark, he was a coach, counselor and athletics director at Portland's Cleveland High School. He led Cleveland to the 1979 Portland Interscholastic League baseball title and to the state semifinals, and coached four Area II American Legion championship teams. He is an inductee in the Cleveland High School, Oregon State High School Baseball Coaches Association and Portland Interscholastic League Halls of Fame.
Additionally, he was president of the Oregon High School Baseball Coaches Association, a member of the NWC Coaches Executive Board and served on the Oregon Planning Task Force in West Linn.
Jerry's philosophy of coaching, and of life, came through strong when the Jerry Gatto Endowment Fund was announced in 2016: "Believe in yourself, believe in your teammates, believe something good is going to happen and believe through hard work, success will be achieved."
Gatto is survived by his wife of more than 50 years, Carol, three children and six grandchildren.
Memorial services will be on Thursday at 11 a.m. at the Church of the Resurrection, 21060 SW Stafford Road, in Tualatin, Ore.