Gary Robert Saltsgiver
May 3, 1947 – October 14, 2018
On Sunday, October 14, 2018, Gary Robert Saltsgiver, loving husband, father to two daughters and two sons-in-law, and grandfather to two grandchildren and two step-grandchildren, passed away at the age of 71.
Gary loved his family mightily, and was a committed husband and loving father and grandfather. His wife first fell in love with him when they were newly dating, when he stopped during a blinding snowstorm to help a family change their car tire. He would do anything for anyone, and had many friends and loved ones due to his great character. He always did whatever was needed to provide for his family. He loved working with his hands, especially in wood, and always had a project going, be it remodeling their PA farmhouse by hand, making Adirondack chairs, wooden step-stools for the family’s children, or building a dollhouse for his grandchildren. Gary was a huge personality, known by some as “Gregarious Gar”. With his booming voice, he loved to be in front of people, and for many years would be recognized in the community as the host of the local public television fundraising auctions. Even during his final hours, he was cracking jokes and making the people around him laugh. He loved to tinker with new toys and gadgets, had a massive collection of tools, electronics, and hardware, and proudly displayed a sign that read, “He who dies with the most toys, wins”. He was proud of his service in Vietnam and in the USAF Thunderbirds, and he loved his country.
Gary was born in Goshen, IN, to Glen and Thelma (Schlemmer) Saltsgiver. He grew up in Rochester, IN, and graduated from Rochester High School in 1965. After attending two years at Purdue University, Fort Wayne campus, he worked in radio news and married his beautiful bride, Susan Strehlow, on March 16, 1968. He entered the U.S. Air Force in 1969 and served in the Vietnam war as a radio news reporter during 1970-1971. He served out his final two years of military service with the Air Force Thunderbirds in Las Vegas, NV. He then worked as Marketing and PR Director for the Showboat Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas and assisted in opening two new hotel casinos in Lake Tahoe, NV and Atlantic City, NJ. During this time, Gary and Susan had two daughters, Lindsay Erin (Dimitar Iliev) and Morgan Elise (Jeffrey Carnahan). The family moved to Hershey, PA in 1983. After several years in the hotel industry at Hershey Entertainment and Resort Company, he entered his longest-running and most cherished career as marketing director for public television. He served in this capacity for seven years at WITF in Harrisburg, PA and for 16 years at WJCT in Jacksonville, FL. After retiring in 2014, he worked part-time at WoodCraft in Jacksonville, FL and spent time with two of his grandchildren, Adelina and Sebastian Ilievi, who loved him very, very much. He and Susan celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in March 2018.
In commemoration of his passing, Gary’s family requests that friends and loved ones post their thoughts and messages In Memoriam, in the Comments section below. In lieu of gifts or flowers, the family would be grateful for donations made to support pancreatic cancer research, in Gary’s name, through the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network at www.pancan.org.