Michael Angelo Houlemard, Sr. peacefully transitioned to his heavenly home on April 1, 2022, after a full day surrounded by generations of his adoring family.
He was admired and will be missed by too many to list, revered for his teaching career, respected for his baseball and ping pong prowess, sought for his home building and repair skills, and known for his caring ways, speaking truth, spiritual sense of the world, and passionate support for family and friends.
His services will be held on Tuesday, May 10, at St. Andrew Catholic Church, 42 Chestnut Street in Pasadena. Rosary will be at 9:30 a.m., followed by the funeral mass at 10 a.m. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to St. Andrew Catholic Church in honor of Michael Houlemard.
“Big Houlie,” as Mike was known, was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, learning construction and sports skills before graduating from St. Augustine Catholic School and Xavier Preparatory High School. At the age of 12, he met and fell in love with Gwendolyn Theresa Romain and the two were inseparable until her death in 2015. The couple married in 1951 and, by the age of 22, had four children.
By that same age, Mike had graduated from Xavier University and played multiple years of professional baseball (primary in the Negro Leagues for the Nashville Ghosts and Birmingham Black Barons) – while the family remained in the New Orleans Algiers District.
In 1956, Mike and Gwen were leaders in the California migration where opportunities were better. In Pasadena, while acquiring his California teaching credentials from CSU Los Angeles, Mike worked nights for the U.S. Postal Service and housing construction during summers, while he and Gwen added two more children.
It was during this time that he also re-started his teaching career, first as a substitute, then at Horace Mann Junior High, and next moving to Eagle Rock High School where he was also was the baseball coach and athletic director.
While his family was always first, baseball was ever present in Big Houlie’s life and considered a central factor in his life’s story. After his time in professional baseball, he played in semi-pro and municipal leagues into his late 40s, coached from Little League to Legion baseball (including his sons and some grandchildren), umpired, taught umpiring, was a regular at Dodger Stadium and a TV baseball fan at every level, and led many conversations and told jokes of his baseball exploits.
Big Houlie’s zest for family, baseball, teaching, construction, puzzle building, and activity in St. Andrew’s Church led to such a dynamic life with multiple articles written about his legendary “perpetual motion.”
He was universally known for his great smile, exciting dance moves – especially in a New Orleans Second Line, engaging demeanor, community leadership, and loving/lasting/ nurturing connections with everyone he met. He was a Pasadena community pillar and true Creole patriarch, who lived a full life.
Mike was preceded in death by his wife of 64 years, Gwendolyn; his parents, Helen Ann Rochon and Alvarez Antonio Houlemard; and brothers, Antonio and Sylvano. He is survived by his sister, Marie Yvette Marine; his children, Michael Jr. (Christina Valentino), Denise (Troy) Jones, Stephen, Kevin, Marie Foster, and Keith (Shandrea); 16 grand and step-grandchildren; eight grand-children-in-law; soon to be 28 great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren.