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John Hamilton Gress

July 1, 1929 - March 10, 2014


John Hamilton Gress

John Hamilton Gress was born July 1, 1929 in Glendale, Calif. to Richard and Florence Gress. He often talked about his happy childhood; delivering papers and working at a gas station to help pay the family bills during the Depression. He got his dad’s sense of humor, played pranks and jokes on his friends and family until the end.

While attending UC Berkeley, John met Elizabeth McElroy at a fraternity picnic. After graduation he sent her love letters from the East Coast while in Navy training. They were married Aug. 31, 1952. He was a loving, faithful, patient and trustworthy husband until Elizabeth’s death in 2004.

John served active duty in the Navy supply corps from 1952 to 1956. He continued his services as a reservist and then retired from the Navy in 1976 as a commander. He worked for Kay Springs as a plant manager for 23 years. Most importantly, John was a prayerful man, baptized and confirmed at Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Church in 1979. He attended daily Mass for much of his life. Friends and family enjoyed his prayers and singing until the very end.

John’s love of family and the outdoors permeated his whole life. He grew all kinds of berries, fruits and vegetables in his big backyard. His children and grandchildren especially loved eating fresh raspberries, swinging, climbing the tree fort and running around the trails and parks of Mountain Park with him. He led many camping and backpacking trips to national parks and peaks. For his 70th birthday he climbed to the top of Mt. Whitney with family. Those who camped and backpacked with him remember his campfire songs, preparedness (how many pockets did those Levis have?) and his love of God’s handiwork in nature.

John leaves a legacy of four children, 16 hooligans, otherwise known as grandchildren, and two great-granddaughters. These families treasure the cradles and rocking horses handmade in his workshop. His children, Mary (Mike) Hainley, Kathleen (Don) LeBlanc, Rick (Patti) Gress and Trish (Steve) Stolp, will miss his listening heart, big smiles and comforting hugs. His grandchildren Katie, John, Anne, Daniel, David, Mike, Rebecca, Patricia Jo, Ben, Tim, Jake, Meredith, Isaiah, Madeline, Sarah and Claire will miss his sugar cookies, tricks and unconditional love. He also had two great-granddaughters, Eliana and Catherine. He is survived by his siblings Stephanie Stager and Dave Gress of California.

John died at his home in Mary’s Woods on March 10, 2014.

A funeral Mass has been held.