Gail Ellsworth Stater (1946 - 2018)

  • "Dear Stater Family -- My heart goes out to you all in the..."
    - Emilyann (Ritzman) LeGrue

September 1, 1946 -

April 9, 2018

Gail Ellsworth Stater (71), beloved husband of 49 years; father, grandpa, brother and friend, passed away peacefully at Gracelen Terrace on April 9, 2018, his wife's birthday. He fought a long, valiant battle with PTSD and dementias, resulting from exposure to Agent Orange while serving in the Army in Vietnam, (1969-1970).

Gail was born to Glenn E. and Shirley Ann (Olsen) Stater on Sept. 1, 1946 in Sacramento, CA; the family settled in Eugene, OR in 1960.

Gail graduated from Sheldon High School (1964) and the University of Oregon (1968) with B.S. in biology. Upon graduation, Gail was drafted, completing basic training at Fort Lewis, WA. He received advanced military training at Fort Ord, CA, and at Fort Gordon, GA, before deploying to Vietnam.

After basic training, Gail married his high school sweetheart, Susan Joy Kennedy, in Harlow Chapel of the First Baptist Church on December 27, 1968. Gail was honorably discharged in 1970, having earned the rank of Sergeant and receiving the Army commendation medal.

Following Vietnam, Gail earned his Oregon teaching license and taught middle school science, chemistry, and physics at McKenzie High School (1972-1974). Given the opportunity to work for his father, Gail left teaching and moved to Newport to work at his father's car dealership. He was also self-employed as a commercial salmon fisherman, operating his own boat, the Oregon Stater.

In 1977, Gail left the car business to work as an Environmental Health Specialist at the Lincoln County Environmental Health Department. During his tenure there, he rose from trainee to department manager and contributed his expertise to Lincoln County Mental Health Department and their drug/alcohol/rehabilitation program. Upon retirement in 2005, Gail and Susan moved to Springfield, OR to be close to their families. Retirement bored Gail, however, so he returned to work, this time for Lane County Health Department, where he was employed until his health began to fail in 2014.

Gail was a devout Christian, and held leadership positions in both the First Baptist Church and the Nazarene Church in Newport. In 2012 he became a member of Cascade Presbyterian Church (now City Church) in Eugene.

Gail loved Oregon outdoor life. In addition to salmon fishing, Gail was an expert dry-fly fisherman. His Willie Boat was his pride and joy, which he used to navigate Oregon rivers. He also enjoyed camping and hiking in the McKenzie and Willamette National Forests.

Gail pursued golf his entire life, lettering in golf at Sheldon High School, winning several local long drive contests. Above all his other leisure pursuits, Gail enthusiastically supported the Oregon Ducks. He held season tickets for football, basketball and track, which he generously shared with family, friends and strangers. If the Ducks were playing at Autzen Stadium, Gail was there.

Gail's passing has left an empty place in the hearts of his wife and children, who miss him intensely. He left them a legacy of the love of the outdoors, golf, football, and commitment to Christian principles and faith in Jesus Christ. They cherish his uniqueness, sense of humor, ability to imitate the Three Stooges, aptitude for debate and argumentation (the talent of never blinking when challenged), his storytelling and family road trips in his beloved 1976 Volvo DL.

In his later years, his favorite days were spent with his 6 beloved grandchildren and his 3 adult children and their spouses. He is survived by his wife, Susan; three children: Mark (Keely) of West Hartford, CT; Emily (Adam) Duerfeldt of Camas, WA; and Bill (Fatima) of Eugene; six grandchildren: Jake and Caitlin Duerfeldt of Camas, WA; Caleb and Noah Stater of Eugene; and Sam and Annabelle Stater of West Hartford; his siblings: William (Barbara) of Eugene, Glenna Stater (Bill Bohnaker) of Portland, Sharon Stater of Eugene; and many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his father (1997) and his mother (2011).

His family would like to thank the wonderful staff members at Gracelen Terrace for their tireless care and compassion for Gail in his final 18 months. His memorial service will take place on Thurs. Aug. 16 at 12:30 pm at Columbia Presbyterian Church, 8715 St. Helens Ave., Vancouver, WA 98664. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions to Gracelen Terrace or the would be most appreciated.

Private interment was conducted at Willamette National Cemetery in Portland on April 19, 2018.

Published in Eugene Register-Guard on Aug. 12, 2018
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