John Daniel Garske of Pleasanton, died Dec. 14 from esophageal cancer. He was 88.
Garske was a good family man who prized a simple, but meaningful life centered on his wife Ann and their eight children.
Garske was born in Sacramento, California on Feb. 21, 1929, and was raised throughout the Pacific Northwest. His German father and French-Canadian mother raised their 12 children on Christian values, coupled with a hard work ethic and a constant appetite to learn something new. As the family moved around the west, they built family houses, worked in their plumbing store and tended to their dairy farm. He recalled milking the cows as a young boy before walking to school with his brothers.
He attended schools in Washington, Oregon and California and completed an electrician apprenticeship at the Electronic Technical Institute in Vallejo before reporting for duty in the U.S. Army on Dec. 8, 1950 to serve in the Korean War. Because of his competency in electronics, he was deployed to Puerto Rico as a radio operator. He was responsible for receiving and transmitting classified encrypted messages through the ALCAN network.
After a decade of engineering jobs with Standard Oil and General Electric, he moved his young wife and family to Las Vegas to start his 35-year career with the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. In 1972, he transferred to the Livermore site to assure more college options in California for his eight children.
During the child-rearing years, he was dedicated to rounding up the family for his famous Saturday pancake breakfasts (including green eggs and ham), Sunday masses and picnics, summer fishing, camping, golf and tennis, as well as evening singalongs with Mitch Miller. There was barely a day without big bands: Count Basie, Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong, mixed in with Herb Albert and his Tijuana Brass bouncing off the walls.
After 35 years with LLNL, he retired to pursue personal interests. He focused on perfecting his golf game with the goal of making at least one hole-in-one (hHe was to make three). After a lifetime of fishing, he caught the largest Black Marlin recorded in the bay of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico which was donated to the California Academy of Sciences. Having played many instruments by ear, he invested in a digital organ and taught himself to read music and found joy in playing it daily. He and his wifed enjoyed travel abroad, including dozens of cruise vacations where they played bridge by day and danced by night.
Garske is survived by his devoted wife Ann; seven of his eight children, including Suzanne Haendel, Laura Elmore (David), Carol Jones (Don), Don Garske (Kelly), Dan Garske (Svetlana), Connie Garske and Adam Garske (Lynn); 23 grandchildren and six great grandchildren (with three more on the way). His eldest son David passed away in 2010 after battling ALS.
His family is grateful for the love and prayers showered upon them in the last few months, which has provided all with much needed peace.
Friends and family are invited to a Sunday vigil on Jan. 7 at 4 p.m. at Graham-Hitch Mortuary, 4167 First St. in Pleasanton. The funeral will be held on Monday, Jan. 8, at 10:30 a.m. at St. Elizabeth Seton, 4001 Stoneridge Drive in Pleasanton. A family burial will conclude on Tuesday, Jan. 9, at the San Joaquin Valley National Cemetery with military honors.