The son of second-generation Swiss Italians, John Edmond Genasci grew up on a 1,400-acre ranch in Sierra Valley, CA. He graduated from Loyalton High where he was student body president and fondly known as “The Griz” on his high school football and basketball teams. He was offered a football scholarship to Stanford University; however, he chose to stay closer to home to work on his parent's ranch while attending the University of Nevada, Reno.
At UNR, he played both ways under Coach Dick Trachok as quarterback (QB), outside linebacker (OLB), and cornerback (CB). Inspired by his brother Bob’s golden glove success, he also boxed for UNR under Coach Jimmy Olivas. He embraced the university social life and was a member of Alpha Tau Omega fraternity and the infamous Sundowners. Lifelong friends were made and cherished. He graduated from UNR in 1962 with a Bachelor of Science degree in physical education and a minor in physical science. After UNR, John sold life insurance with Max Dodge, served in the National Guard, hauled hay, and provided security at the old Riverside Hotel. One of his best friends, Bill Nicholson, co-owned G&N Firewood company which had an agreement with the forest service, a truck, and a splitter to make firewood to sell. Bill was more than a friend and business partner as he was the matchmaker between John and Kay.
John’s first date with Kay and her son, Kerby, was at the Reno Air Races where their relationship took off and soared. With Kay as his copilot, they married in 1965 and relocated to Utah so that John could pursue his postgraduate work at Utah State University in Logan. Utah was a very busy time for this young family. In 1967, they welcomed the birth of their second son, Andy, and John obtained his Master of Science degree in school psychology and counseling. In 1968, they welcomed the birth of their third son, Joe. In 1971, John obtained his Doctorate of Education in educational psychology with a minor in diagnostic reading and remediation. While at Utah State, he also served in the Peace Corps as a selection and training officer (1966-1971), which included a summer in Brazil and working with teams in Bolivia and Iran.
While he was offered a coaching position at Carson High School in Carson City, NV, John accepted a position as school psychologist at El Dorado County School District in Placerville, CA. During this time, the students at the nearby Native American reservation fondly referred to him as the “Jolly Green Giant” after the frozen food character and due to his 6’4” frame.