In Memoriam - Deacon Hans Gram

News Story: May 1, 2010
Hans J. Gram

Sacred Heart University Trustee Emeritus and great friend, Hans J. Gram, died on Sunday, May 23. He was 69 years old. Mr. Gram, who lived in West Redding, Conn., leaves behind his wife, Ingela, and their four children: Karin, Thomas, Cecilia and Jacob.

Mr. Gram had been a valued member of the University’s Board of Trustees since 2005, and he served in leadership roles on several committees. He received an honorary degree from the University in 2008. Perhaps it is fitting that his passing occurred on Pentecost Sunday, which commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples of Christ. It was a gift from Deacon Gram and his wife that made possible the Bell Tower for the University’s new Chapel of the Holy Spirit.

The four bronze bells were hand-cast at the Royal Eijsbouts in the Netherlands. The mold for each was destroyed when they were completed, making each bell unique, just as Mr. Gram’s contributions were to SHU.

Hans Gram, center, received an honorary doctorate from SHU in 2008.

Mr. Gram was active in St. Mary Parish in Ridgefield, where he served on the Parish Council for a decade, from 1992 to 2002, and since 1998 he was a member of the Finance Committee. In 2006, Mr. Gram was ordained a deacon for the Diocese of Bridgeport, and he was assigned to his home parish, where he assisted at his first Mass at Saint Mary Parish on June 11, 2006 with. Msgr. Laurence Bronkiewicz, pastor, as the celebrant. He was also a Knight of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.

A native of Oslo, Norway, Mr. Gram was the son of a shipbroker. In 1936, his father became a founding partner of R.S. Platou a.s., an international brokering company that serves the shipping and offshore industry worldwide by providing services within chartering, sales and contracting of ships. Mr. Gram began his professional association with the company in 1959, the same year he graduated from the Commercial College in Oslo. He later completed coursework in chartering, sales of ships, naval design, engineering, accounting and taxation at the Oslo Academy for Business.

Deacon Gram lights the altar candles during the dedication of the Chapel of the Holy Spirit in September 2009.

In 1977, he completed the Advanced Management Course for Executives at CEI in Geneva, Switzerland. From his earliest experience as a sales trainee at R.S. Platou, Mr. Gram enjoyed growing responsibilities, with positions in the military service and with shipbrokers in Genoa and Paris. He returned to R.S. Platou in 1966, and served as president and CEO of the company from 1977 until 1986. Mr. Gram headed an independent ship-owning company, which he sold when he moved with his family to the U.S. He also founded and directed an affiliated brokerage and consultancy business in offshore oil exploration and production in Houston.

In 2000, he became a citizen of the United States.

Mr. Gram’s influence will continue to resonate across campus, and the rich harmony of the Chapel bells will serve as constant reminder of his service to Sacred Heart University.

Deacon Gram's body will be received at St. Mary’s Church on Wednesday at 4 p.m. and will repose until 9 p.m. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Thursday, May 27, at 10:15 a.m. in St. Mary's Church, Ridgefield. Burial will follow in St. Mary Cemetery.