Gary Faller, age 69, of California, MD died on October 27, 2022. While sitting in a tree stand on his wife’s family’s property in Pennsylvania, he suffered a heart attack. Gary will be missed by so very many. He was one of the good guys.
Gary was born in Oil City, PA on April 5, 1953 to Gayle Dockery Faller and Arthur Norbert Faller. He married Deborah Schmader on July 29, 1978 at Immaculate Conception Parish in Clarion, PA. Their union lasted 44 years.
After graduating from Cranberry High School in 1971 and Clarion State College in 1975 Gary began his teaching career at St. Michael’s Catholic School in Fryburg, PA before becoming the principal of St. Titus Roman Catholic School in Titusville, PA. In 1981 (much to his father-in-law’s chagrin) he joined the United States Navy and received his commissioning at the Aviation Officer Candidate School in Pensacola, FL. He accepted his designation as a Naval Aviator and began piloting the P3-C Orion in 1982, making his family (including Don) quite proud. Gary deployed to Sigonella, Sicily; Lajes, Azores; Rota, Spain; and Keflavik, Iceland. Duty stations included Milton, FL; Corpus Christi, TX; Jacksonville, FL; Brunswick, ME; Houston, TX; Alameda, CA; Newport News, VA; Patuxent River, MD; Dahlgren, VA; and Norfolk, VA. His assignments included two world cruises onboard the U.S.S. Enterprise CVN 65 and the U.S.S. John C. Stennis CVN 74. Gary retired as a Lieutenant Commander from active duty in 1998 and from Defense Contractor Booz, Allen, Hamilton in 2018. During retirement, he looked forward to and enjoyed his breakfasts with the team.
Gary loved a good car trip and travelling the world. When he retired from active duty in the Persian Gulf, he asked Debbie to join him in Paris. She suggested Rome instead, so they celebrated with their daughters in Rome, Venice, and Florence. That was the beginning of their many travels abroad with Gary documenting each adventure with a memory book.
Faith was everything to Gary. He led Bible Study in his home for over 20 years and was most likely listening to Christian music when he suffered his heart attack. He loved to sing – most often Christian music, the occasional Happy Birthday, and with the Encore Chorale of Southern Maryland. Gary celebrated his faith as a cantor for both the choirs at Immaculate Heart of Mary Roman Catholic Church in Lexington Park, MD and Our Lady Star of the Sea Roman Catholic Church in Solomons, MD. For many years Gary sang and directed the Men’s Barbershop Choir at Immaculate Heart of Mary.
While he was simply a dues paying member of the Knights of Columbus Council #9968 and the St. Mary’s County Elks Lodge #2092, he had a heart for their missions. In 2019 he was humbled to travel to Belize with members of Our Lady Star of the Sea to paint Little Flower School. Then in January 2020, along with Debbie he began the St. Mary’s County Chapter of Sleep in Heavenly Peace where volunteers build beds for children ages 3-17 in St. Mary’s County and southern Calvert County who don’t have beds of their own. Earlier this month Gary delivered and assembled the chapter’s 541st bed.
Gary was his family’s rock. He could do anything – lay tile, repair a sailboat, make beef jerky, bait a hook, make wine, skin a deer, cook dinner, make a DVD for each milestone family celebration as well as emcee the events…he just couldn’t throw much away thinking he may need it someday. If you wanted a specific tool, he probably had it in his workshop where he turned bowls and vases on his lathe. His hand cut nativities, and more recently Christmas trees, are treasured by their new owners. A true Boy Scout, Gary was always prepared and willing to help. Earlier this month he was so proud to reaffirm his Eagle Scout oath after 51 years.
Gary was a good friend; make that great. He headed the reunion committee for his high school class and did such a good job that two other classes asked to join in the celebrations. He kept in contact with guys he served with on ships, planes, and in offices – once a friend, always a friend. For many years Gary & Debbie enjoyed eating out with their couples’ dinner group. Over the years they’ve patronized many different local (and not so local) restaurants.
During retirement Gary served as the secretary of Sanner’s Lake Sportman’s Club where he recently began shooting with “the old guys”. He loved it! He was also an avid outdoorsman, hunting in three states – West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Maryland. He’d shoot the occasional deer with his bow or a rifle, but truly treasured spending his time enjoying nature. He served as recreation chair on his neighborhood homeowners’ board. Each October he and his buddy Craig would roast a pig, then Gary would lead the games.
Gary rode his bike to the local RowHouse 4 to 5 times per week to work out. As a Boy Scout he raced canoes, so rowing was his thing. He will be missed by his RowHouse buddies, especially during karaoke rows with Johnny Cash’s Ring of Fire – the perfect song for his bass voice.
His daughters fondly remember Gary’s science lessons as they were growing up. Always the teacher he shared his knowledge with his girls and then with their children.
He is survived by loving wife Deborah and his two daughters: Andrea Atlas, her husband Darrin Atlas and their two children David and Drea of Leonardtown, MD; Heidi Medford, her husband LCDR Chris Medford and their children Hayden and Chase of Naples Italy, his siblings, Carol-lee Umstead, Daniel Faller, Greg Faller & Dolly of Rocky Mount, NC, and Michelle (Hans) Rohm of Wendell, NC; his in-laws Donna (Frank) Lebda of Stuart, FL; Diane (Gary) Rhoads of Mentor, OH; Cindy (Gerry) Gates of Jacksonville, FL; Susie (Cahill) Jones of Boise, ID, and Jeff (Sunny) Wells of Aurora, CO, as well as countless nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents, his brother-in-law, Butch Umstead, his in-laws Donald & Louise Schmader, his sister-in-law Christine Wells, and infant nephew, Kyle Gates.
“He was my North, my South, my East, and my West, My working week and my Sunday Rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song; I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong.” excerpted from Funeral Blues by W.H. Auden
Viewing will be held at Our Lady Star of the Sea in Solomons, MD beginning at 10:30 AM on Veterans’ Day, Friday, November 11, 2022. A Mass of Christian Burial will follow. Inurnment will be at Our Lady Star of Sea Columbarium at a later date and private.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Our Lady Star of the Sea Sound System Fund, 50 Alexander St, Solomons, MD 20688 or St. Mary’s County Chapter of Sleep in Heavenly Peace, PO Box 1112, Lexington Park, MD 20653.
Condolences to the family may be made at www.brinsfieldfuneral.com.
Arrangements were handled by Reinsel Funeral Home & Crematory, Oil City, PA and Brinsfield Funeral Homes & Crematory, Leonardtown.