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Episcopal Church

John Gastler


John Henry Gastler, long-time resident of Portland, CT and Sun City Center, FL, died Saturday, January 9 after a short illness, just 5 days after his 84th birthday. Born on January 4, 1932, he was the son of the late John Burton Gastler and Alice Coe Gastler.He was a child of the Depression, raised on a family farm in Durham, CT. As such, he learned the importance of family, and of doing much with little, traits that followed him throughout his life.

Mr. Gastler graduated from Durham High School in 1949 and from Connecticut State Teachers College (now Central Connecticut State University) in 1953 with a degree in mathematics. He was employed as an aeronautical engineer at Pratt & Whitney Aircraft, and as an air/water/soil quality engineer with the CT State Dept. of Transportation, Northeast Utilities and GZA Environmental Consultants. He retired in 1992.

Mr. Gastler was active in the community. He was a volunteer firefighter in Avon, CT and was active in Republican Party politics at the local, state and national levels, including a run for Portland Town Selectman. He was a longtime member of Trinity Church in Portland, singing in the choir and serving in various capacities, most recently chairing a project to refurbish the church pipe organ.

He was preceded by his beloved wife, Nan (Nelson) Gastler, to whom he was married for almost 51 years. He is survived by a daughter, Debra Gastler, and her husband, Andrew Malloy, of Studio City, CA, son, Hal and his wife Joanne, of Charlotte, NC, son, Jack, and his wife, Debbie, of Chester, CT and daughter, Laura Kirby and her husband, Ron, of Statesboro, GA. Mr. Gastler was also predeceased by his brother, Clif, and is survived by his sister, Mabel Hamma and her husband, Bill of Durham, CT and his brother, Harold Gastler and his wife, Alice, of Chesapeake, VA. He also leaves behind 10 grandchildren, 11 great children and many beloved nephews, nieces and cousins.

Most importantly, Mr. Gastler leaves a legacy of quiet strength, kindness, generosity and a propensity for corny jokes. He loved his farm heritage. He loved nature: working in the woods and identifying birds by their call. He loved music, singing in choirs his entire life. He loved flower gardening with his trusty radio tuned to Metropolitan Opera broadcasts on Saturday and ball games the rest of the time. He loved sports, especially baseball and hockey. He loved travel, having visited each of the lower 48 states, Europe and the Caribbean. But most of all, he loved what he called his UN family, his children and their spouses, grandchildren and their spouses and his great grandchildren. He and Nan supported them in their every endeavor and he was so proud of the opportunities they pursued throughout the country and world, opportunities he couldn't even have fathomed growing up in rural Durham.