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Obituary: Lloyd Gastineau

Beloved patriarch, lifelong learner, engineer, traveler

Lloyd Gastineau, a Claremont resident for 61 years, known for his wide-ranging curiosity about the world, died May 10. Born October 11, 1927, to Artie Missie and Ray Gastineau in Redford, Missouri, on the family farm, he was 94 years old.

A lifelong learner and man of discipline, Lloyd served two years in the US Navy, teaching radar at the US Naval station on Treasure Island in San Francisco Bay. He earned a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering from the University of Missouri in 1951. During his college years, he was inducted into the national honorary math society Pi Mu Epsilon; ETA Kappa Nu, the international honor society of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers; Sigma Xi, a scientific research honor society; and Tau Beta Pi, the only engineering honor society representing the entire engineering profession, the oldest and most prestigious in the United States.

He had a distinguished career with Convair Aircraft, later General Dynamics, from which he retired as an engineering specialist in 1989. During his 38-year tenure, he furthered his education  with graduate classes at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, Michigan State, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

He navigated his retirement in the same way he approached his career: with an exacting sense of discipline, certainty about the path he chose at any given time, and a deep curiosity and rigorous, continuous search for knowledge and adventure.

He and his wife Karen traveled to more than a dozen countries, for which he planned complex itineraries that he intended to follow. Hiking in the footsteps of Sir Edmund Hillary in the Himalayas in Nepal was one of their favorite adventures. They also traveled broadly in the US, visiting all 50 states, Canada and Mexico in search of hiking trails, history and adventure. As his wife said, “We lived a good life.”

Continuous learning was not a catch phrase for him. Over the last 10 years, he took 50 Great Courses in subjects as far-ranging as advanced physics, anatomy, astrology, science of the brain, Homer’s Iliad, history of the Bible, and masterpieces at the Louvre.

Still, he had time for other interests — family backpacking trips in the beautiful Sierras, climbing Mt. Whitney, crossing the Grand Canyon, climbing Half Dome in Yosemite and Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park, skiing and hiking trips to Mammoth Mountain often including nieces and nephews from afar and grandchildren, of course. As one adoring niece wrote: “Having time with (Lloyd) and you all was such an enriching and formative part of my childhood. Lots of who I am I learned from being with you, playing and adventuring in the great outdoors.” The couple inspired the Pacific Crest Trail adventure of one of their grandchildren and his fiancée.

He also planned biking adventures, taught photography composition, documented family adventures, baked his favorite oatmeal cookies that tasted “healthy” to others, and beautified Base Line Road by picking up litter with the Active Claremont organization.

He deeply loved his wife, children and grandchildren, classical music, and complex puzzles. Son Doug mentioned, “He was a man of integrity, honesty, and passionate about the gaining and sharing of knowledge.” He always sought the truth, revered the sciences, and the natural world.  In the last several days before he died, he was watching a DVD, “The Joy of Lifelong Learning.”

He was devoted to his large family, and they to him.

He was preceded in death by his brothers, Howell, Jewell, Buell, Guy, Wilbur and Donald Gastineau, and sisters, Ruth, Lucille and Muriel.

He is survived by his loving wife of 64 years, Karen Gastineau; adoring children, Bob (Monty Fischer) Gastineau, Doug (Susie) Gastineau, Eric (Dolores) Gastineau and Ann (Joe De La Cruz) Gastineau; beloved grandchildren, Kyle Cuadal, fiancée, Felicia Grajeda, Savanna, Delanie, George and Henry Gastineau; sister, Esther; many nieces and nephews; and sisters-in-law, Norma Williams (Jerry), Sonia Cairns (John) and Sharon Mattson.

His family is deeply appreciative of the tender care he received at the St. Daniel’s Eldercare in Claremont from his guardian angels, Romeo, Natalie and Maribel, and others who watched over him day and night, and the VNA Hospice and Palliative Care, who appeared on a moment’s notice with additional support.

“The Gastineaus feel blessed,” the family shared.

“We began as wanderers, and we are wanderers still. We have lingered long enough on the shores of the cosmic ocean. We are ready at last to set sail for the stars.” — Carl Sagan, Cosmos

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