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Mr. Jeff Hennessy (Deceased)

208 Treat Dr
Broussard, LA 70518


Home Phone: 337-839-0917
Work Phone: --
Fax: --
Email: --

Jefferson T. Hennessy, Jr.

September 14, 1956 to August 21, 2016

Jefferson Hennessy died at the age of 59 in Broussard, Louisiana, on August 21, 2016. He was the oldest child of
Jeff and Ruth Hennessy of Lafayette and, later, of Broussard. His friends called him gentle. He was. And he was humble. He didn’t like attention, but he was an immensely gifted and creative poet and writer, just as he was an immensely talented athlete in his early years. In fact, he was one of the nation’s finest trampolinists before
switching to motocross and gaining a reputation as a top state competitor.

One of Jeff’s proudest achievements was as a contributing writer for Acadiana Profile magazine in Lafayette.
Among his articles were several about the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, including one entitled
“The Cajun Navy” that has become the definitive account of the rescue effort initiated in Lafayette and which popularized the phrase “Cajun Navy.” Five of his articles appear in the book The Terrible Storms of 2005.

Jeff’s love of music, especially 1960s rock and roll, was evident from his large and devoted following on
Facebook. His many friends eagerly awaited the next installment of his musical chronicles, which often
evoked spirited discussions.

At the time of his death, Jeff was completing the manuscript for a book, which will be published later in 2016,
about the rescue efforts at the Cajundome in Lafayette in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

After graduating from Lafayette High School in 1974, Jeff attended the University of Southwestern Louisiana
(now the University of Louisiana at Lafayette). He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1985, and he was
a teaching assistant while working on his Master of Arts degree in Creative Writing. He was part of a
history-making moment at USL in 1985 when he and his sisters Leigh and Kay all received their degrees
at the same time.

Since an early age, Jeff’s two driving passions were writing and music. He traveled the nation in pursuit
of interesting projects, with memorable stops in Washington, D.C., where he worked as a legal researcher
and for the Folger Shakespeare theater; Austin, Texas, where he found the music scene stimulating; and
Las Vegas, which inspired him to move back to Louisiana to pursue a career in writing.

In addition to his creative and magazine writing, in recent years Jeff worked as a technical writer in the
oil business, most notably for Frank’s Casing Crew in Lafayette and Halliburton in Houston.

Jeff is survived by his mother, Ruth Hennessy of Broussard, Louisiana, his sister Leigh Hennessy Robson
and her husband Dr. Mark Robson of Lafayette, Louisiana, and his sister Kay Hennessy of Phoenix, Arizona.

A memorial service will be held on Saturday, August 27, at David Funeral Home, 316 Youngsville Highway,
Lafayette, LA 70508. Doors will be open at 1 pm for visiting and services at 2 pm.

* * * * * * *
Obituary: Jefferson T. Hennessy Sr. – Faculty 1959-86 & Gymnastics/Trampoline Coach – March 24, 2015

Jefferson T. Hennessy Sr.
October, 27, 1929 to March 24, 2015

Memorial services for Jefferson T. Hennessy Sr, age 85 will be held at David Funeral Home at 316 Youngsville Hwy in Lafayette Saturday March 28, 2015 at 3:00PM. Visitation will begin at 2:00PM Saturday March 28, 2015 in the funeral home.

“Coach” Jeff Hennessy, the former Distinguished Professor at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, died at the age of 85 in Lafayette, Louisiana, on March 24 following an extended illness. He was renowned internationally as the “father” of the sport of trampoline, coaching numerous world and national champions and serving as United States team coach from 1964 to 1980. He also played a key role in getting trampoline accepted into the Olympic Games, and he was inducted into the USA Gymnastics Hall of Fame in 1992.

Jefferson Thomas Hennessy, Sr., son of Lera Bryant Hennessy (deceased) and Leo James Hennessy (deceased), was born on October 27, 1929, in Ancon, Canal Zone, Panama but relocated to Monroe, Louisiana, in 1941 on the eve of World War II. He graduated from Neville High School in Monroe and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Education from Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, Louisiana, in 1951.

While at Northwestern, Hennessy was a member of the swimming and gymnastics teams. He won the Southern AAU National springboard diving championship twice and was introduced to trampoline through George Nissen, the inventor of the modern trampoline.

After working as a math and social studies teacher, as well as a football and track coach in the Ouachita Parish School system in Monroe, Hennessy returned to Northwestern as an instructor of Physical Education and coach of the university’s swimming, diving, and gymnastics teams; he completed his Master of Science degree in Education at Northwestern in 1958.

In 1959, Hennessy moved to Lafayette, Louisiana, where he became Associate Professor of Physical Education at the University of Southwestern Louisiana (now the University of Louisiana at Lafayette). He was director of the gymnastics and trampoline programs, quickly establishing the trampoline program as the best in the world and bringing international acclaim to the city and university.

Hennessy was instrumental in establishing the first trampoline World Championships, which were held in London, England, in 1964. He hosted the 1966 World Championships at UL, and in 2014 he was a distinguished guest at the 50th anniversary World Championships in Daytona Beach, Florida. In addition, he was a member of the United States Olympic Committee for Gymnastics.

As a coach, Hennessy led the U.S. team in nine World Championships. His athletes won a total of 26 World Championship medals. Most notable among his athletes were his daughter, Leigh Hennessy, who won two World Championships; national champion and 1969 Miss America Judith Ford; World Champion and 1984 Olympic diving medalist Ron Merriott; World Champions Don Waters, Gary Smith, Bobby Neely, Jim Cartledge, and Wayne Miller; and National Champions Jimmy Yongue and Stuart Ransom.

His athletes won more National Championships than he was able to recall. As a measure of his accomplishments, his gym on the UL campus produced more world and national trampoline champions than anywhere else in the nation. In addition, his UL gymnastics team was undefeated in 1960 and 1961, and the trampoline team was National AAU Champions from 1964 to 1975 and 1979 to 1981.

Hennessy was named UL Distinguished Professor in 1982 and retired in 1986. He was the author three books and numerous articles about trampoline. Chief among his many awards were membership in the USA Gymnastics Hall of Fame, the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame, the World Acrobatics Society Hall of Fame, and the U.S. Trampoline Association Hall of Fame. He was also named the Amateur Athletic Union Outstanding Coach of the Year in 1970 and 1972 and the American Trampoline and Tumbling Association Outstanding Coach of the Year in 1982.

“Coach,” as he was affectionately known around the world, is survived by his wife of 63 years, Ruth Hennessy of Broussard, Louisiana; his son Jefferson T. Hennessy Jr. of Houston, Texas; his daughter Leigh Hennessy of New Orleans, Louisiana; and his daughter Kay Hennessy of Phoenix, Arizona.

He is survived by his wife Ruth West Hennessy of Broussard, Louisiana, and three children: Jefferson Thomas Hennessy, Jr., Houston, Texas; Leigh Hennessy Robson and her husband Mark Robson, New Orleans, Louisiana; and Kay Hennessy, Phoenix, Arizona. He is survived by one sister, Lera Hennessy Harris and her husband William “Bill” Harris and their son Scott; another sister, Kathleen Hennessy Neal (deceased) and her husband Jackie Neal of Monroe, Louisiana, and nephew Mark Neal of Monroe, Louisiana.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the “Jeff T. Hennessy Award” that was established by the USA Gymnastics Foundation in 2003 to provide scholarships for trampoline and tumbling athletes. To make a donation, please mail to: The Hennessy Scholarship Fund, c/o USA Gymnastics, 132 E. Washington St., Ste. 700, Indianapolis, IN 46204.

Condolences may be sent to the family at www.davidfuneralhome.org

David Funeral Home316 Youngsville Hwy 337-837-9887 is in charge of arrangements.

* * * * * * * * * *
Athletic Network Footnote by Ed Dugas.
Click here for the AN profile of Jeff Hennessy.
To view over 20 years of Gymnastics/Trampoline photos, click www.athleticnetwork.net , Photo Gallery (left side of home page),
Gymnastics/Trampoline, the 1960-2012 years.
Click here for story by Kevin Foote, the Advertiser, March 26, 2015

* * * * * * * * * *

Former Gymnastics/Trampoline: Worldwide trampoline legend Hennessy dies

Kevin Foote, The Advertiser, March 26, 2015

Former UL trampoline coach Jeff Hennessy, right, with his 1977 team, including world-famous daughter Leigh Hennessy, second from left on the bottom row. Hennessy died Tuesday evening at the age of 85.(Photo: Photo courtesy of athleticnetwork.net)

In UL athletic discussions between Ragin’ Cajun fans over the decades, his name may not have come up very often.

But very few coaches or athletes representing the university achieved more in this life than Jeff Hennessy.

The longtime USA Trampolining coach and UL physical education professor died Tuesday night at Our Lady of Lourdes Regional Medical Center after a lengthy illness. The 85-year-old was a resident of Broussard at the time of his death.

Hennessy’s list of achievements during his distinguished coaching career is almost too large to detail.

For starters, he was the USA Trampolining team coach from 1964-1980. His Wikipedia biography says that he coached more national and world champions during that period than anyone in the nation.

Throughout that time, his primary occupation was being an associate professor of physical education at UL from 1959 to 1986.

“I went to USL in the late 1970s,” son-in-law Mark Robson said. “At that time, he was like a rock star on the campus at USL. He was producing national and world champions with his trampoline teams. They were traveling the world. They competed in Russia and all over the world. It was a big deal back then.”

Robson, who came to USL from Scotland to play and later coach soccer, married Hennessy’s prize pupil — his daughter Leigh.

Leigh Hennessy is the all-time national leader in national trampoline championships, and like her father, also coached the U.S. national team.

She’s also been in the movies as a stunt woman and an actress. Leigh and Robson are currently living in New Orleans.

In 2007, the Hennessys became the first father-daughter pair ever inducted into the USA Gymnastics Hall of Fame.

“Anyone who ever said ‘Jeff just did this’ or ‘Jeff just did that’ didn’t know him very well,” said Ed Dugas, a former UL professer college and current coordinator of athleticnetwork.net, a website dedicated to former UL athletes and coaches.

“In addition to working a full load as a college professor, he would put together world events and coached athletes that would excel against the best in the world.”

Among his countless international feats, he coached the first USA team to compete in the Soviet Union in 1974. He was a U.S. delegate to Winston Churchill’s funeral in 1965.

On the collegiate level, he led UL gymnastics teams to undefeated records in 1960 and 1961. He led the trampoline team to the NAIA national championship in 1969.

On the AAU circuit, his trampoline teams won national titles from 1964 to 1975 and from 1979-81.

“He was a great teacher,” said Brian Butcher, who was coached by Hennessy at UL from 1969-72. “He was well-respected around the world.

“He was a trailblazer in the sport. He latched on to it and had great success.”

In addition to his daughter, Hennessy’s list of champion pupils is a long one, ranging from 1984 Olympic diving medalist Ron Merriott, national champion and 1969 Miss America Judith Ford and world champions Stuart Ransom, Jimmy Yongue, Don Waters, Wayne Miller and Gary Smith.

Smith currently owns Acadiana Gymnastics, which he started in 1977, after being coached by Hennessy at UL from 1969-73.

Dugas said few realize that Hennessy also was an expert videographer for the football team and men’s basketball teams during his time as a UL professor.

After retiring in 1986, Hennessy remained an advocate for trampolining. He played a vital role in trampoline finally becoming an Olympic sport in 2000 in Sydney.

Nephew Mark Neal said Hennessy was also the most sought-after expert witness nationally for trials involving trampoline accidents after his retirements.

“He was very innovative,” Dugas said. “He was a great promoter. He was tremendous for our university.”

David’s Funeral Home of Broussard is handling arrangements. A funeral service is planned for Saturday.

Athletic Network Footnote by Ed Dugas.
Click here for the AN profile of Jeff Hennessy.
To view over 20 years of Gymnastics/Trampoline photos, click www.athleticnetwork.net , Photo Gallery (left side of home page),
Gymnastics/Trampoline, the 1960-2012 years.

* * * * * * * * * *

Leigh Hennessy Inducted into USA Gymnastics Hall of Fame

Former UL Athlete Leigh Hennessy

Inducted into USA Gymnastics Hall of Fame

by Mark B. Robson

Leigh Hennessy, who won numerous national and world championships while competing as a member of the UL trampoline team in the 1970�s, was inducted into the USA Gymnastics Hall of Fame during the 2007 Visa Championships in San Jose, California, in August. Leigh was raised in Lafayette and earned a B.A. as well as a master’s degree in communication at UL.

The USA Gymnastics Hall of Fame is the ultimate honor that is bestowed on only a small number of gymnasts and coaches who reached the highest level in their respective sports. Her father, the legendary UL trampoline coach, Jeff Hennessy, was inducted into the USA Gymnastics Hall of Fame in 1992. They are the only father-daughter team in the Hall of Fame.

Other members of the USA Gymnastics Hall of Fame include Olympic gold medal winners Bart Conner, Mary Lou Retton, Peter Vidmar, Kerri Strug, Dominique Dawes, and Shannon Miller.

During her acceptance speech in San Jose, Leigh noted that becoming a world champion while a member of the UL trampoline team �was not an unattainable, unimaginable goal.� In fact, because she was surrounded by national and world champions, and coached by the most successful trampoline coach in history, it was considered normal.

Leigh won her first world title at the age of 14 at the World Age-Group Championships. Later, as a UL student-athlete, she won many more world titles, bringing even greater fame and prestige to a UL trampoline team that Jeff Hennessy had groomed into the best in the world.

In 1978, Leigh was the first athlete, male or female, to win all three trampoline events at a national championships. She eventually earned a place in Guinness World Records for winning the most US national championships for women.

At the 1978 World Age-Group Championships, she also won all three events. That same year at the World Championships, she set the world record score for women�s double mini-tramp, a record that stood until 1992. She was named the Southern AAU Athlete of the Year in 1978. The International Trampoline Federation honored her in 1982 for her lifetime achievements, and she is also a member of World Acrobatics Society Hall of Fame.

As a world-class athlete, Leigh represented the United States around the world, and in 1974 she was a member of the first U.S. trampoline team to compete in the Soviet Union.

Over the past several years, Leigh has established herself as a leading actress and stunt performer in film and television. Her most notable credits include working as Demi Moore’s stunt double in GI Jane and starring in the opening scenes of The Guardian with Kevin Costner, for which she was nominated for a Taurus World Stunt Award in 2007.

Leigh currently lives in Van Nuys, California.

Leigh joined her father in the Hall of Fame in 2007, making the Hennessys the only father and daughter in the Hall of Fame.

Mark B. Robson received his Ph.D. in English Literature from UL in 1984. He played and coached soccer for UL, leading the team to its first championship in 1976. He is a freelance writer in Los Angeles.

Posted September 10, 2007


A Lifetime of Trampoline is a brief history of trampoline coach, Jeff T. Hennessy, who currently resides in Broussard, Louisiana. Also included are four photo galleries that capture over fifty years of world travel, Hennessy family activities, World Trampoline Champions coached by Hennessy, and fellow trampoline and double mini-tramp athletes from across the USA and around the world. Hennessy’s articles page lists a variety of technical publications and essays on the subjects of trampoline and springboard diving.

Autobiography of Jeff T. Hennessy
In the spring of 1948 I entered Northwestern State College in Natchitoches, LA, and because I was a member of the swimming and gymnastics teams I was introduced to the trampoline. At that time, the trampoline was used primarily as a way to improve our springboard diving and gymnastics skills. Springboard diving was the main focus of my interest in sports at that time.
During my college days at Northwestern I was extremely fortunate to meet two key people who would have an enormous influence on my future interest in trampoline – George Nissen, the inventor of the modern trampoline, and Ted Blake, from Great Britain, who was a member of the fledgling Nissen Corporation.
These two innovators inspired me to envision a role for myself in the potential of trampoline to eventually become an organized competitive sport with an international audience.
During the years 1965 through 1982 the men and women athletes that I coached were awarded a total of 26 World Championship medals in trampoline and double mini-tramp competitions all over the globe. The National and Regional titles and medals won by these world champions and their teammates during those seventeen years are far too numerous for me to venture a specific count.
Upon completion of a BS degree in Education at Northwestern I was employed by the Ouachita Parish School system in Monroe, LA where I worked as a math and social studies teacher, and football and track coach.
In 1957 I returned to Northwestern as a graduate assistant. And upon completion of my MS degree in Education in 1958 I was employed as an instructor of Physical Education at Northwestern and coached NSC’s swimming, diving, and gymnastics teams until 1959.
In 1959 I moved to Lafayette, LA with my wife, Ruth, and our two children – Jeff, Jr. and Leigh (with baby Kay soon on the way). In Lafayette I taught Physical Education at the University of Southwestern Louisiana (now Univ. of LA at Lafayette), plus I was the director of USL’s gymnastics and trampoline programs.

In 1964 I decided to focus my efforts full-time on the sport of trampoline – after working hours.

The University of Southwestern was my trampoline home base from 1964 to 1986 when I retired as an associate professor. I am proud to say that during this period of time there were more trampoline and double mini-tramp world and national champions produced in our little gym in Lafayette, LA than in any other place in the USA.
It was an unequivocal pleasure to work with all of the young people from across the country who took part in our trampoline program in Lafayette. I had the pleasure of observing them develop into world-class athletes and to see them represent themselves as good will ambassadors of the United States while participating in World Championship competitions overseas. I am eternally grateful to all of them for their unique talent and their hard work. What a wonderful time we had!

Some Achievements
and Honors

Member of US Olympic
Committee for Gymnastics
1965 – 1969

Elected Chairman of the
International Trampoline
Federation Technical
Committee – 1976

“Distinguished Professor”
University of
Southwestern LA – 1982

International Trampoline
Federation Lifetime
Membership Award
Osaka, Japan – Aug. 1984
Inducted into USA

Gymnastics Hall of Fame
– Sept. 1985

Federation International
Gymnastics (FIG) Honorary
Member – Jan. 1999

“Jeff T. Hennessy
Trampoline and Tumbling
Scholarship” Est. by
USA Gymnastics – 2003

National Gymnastics
Championships Award –
“In Appreciation of
Your Contribution and
Support of the 2002
US Gymnastics
– Aug. 2003