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Gordon (Gordie) Haywald, 63, of Lakeland Junction, passed peacefully at Lakeland Regional Medical Center after battling an illness of congestive heart failure. His wife and sister were at his side.

Gordon was born in Paris, France where his father was stationed in the Air Force. He led the life of a "military brat" moving from state to state and country to country. His dad retired in northeastern Pennsylvania and that's where he graduated from Tunkhannock High School in Tunkhannock. He went on to graduate from Keystone Community College and then followed in his father's footsteps and joined the Air Force in May 1978.

Basic training was at Lackland AFB, Texas for six weeks, eventually being sent to Griffiss AFB in Rome, N.Y. to become a telecommunications specialist. He met his wife, Kimberly (Gerry) Haywald there and they both made the Air Force their career. From Rome, N.Y. they went to Terceira Island in the Azores where their son, Richard K. Haywald, was born. Then on to Travis AFB, in California, Schierstein, Germany, and last assignment at Wright-Patterson AFB in Dayton, Ohio. He spent 20 years serving his country and enjoyed every minute of it.

He and his wife moved to Lakeland, Fla. in June of 2005 to be near his parents and son, who also joined the Air Force.

Gordie deeply loved his family and friends. He spent much of his spare time over the years umpiring softball, refereeing basketball and playing golf. He loved 60s, 70s and 80s music, knew a ton of trivia, and challenged every young person he knew to better themselves. He was known by his granddaughters as "Grumpy" and he loved them dearly. In 2007, he was diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver due to NASH (nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, also known as NAFLD). As it progressed, he was put on the transplant list at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla. and in 2015, he received a new liver. He lived large and well for the next few years, overcoming many other health challenges that came along. Sadly, congestive heart failure took over along with kidney failure. His body was just too tired to keep going.

He is survived by his wife of 40 years, Kim Haywald; his son Richard Haywald of Wilsonville, Ala.; three granddaughters: Brooke, Lauren and Emersyn Haywald; his parents: Phyllis and Dick Haywald of Lakeland Junction; his sister, Faylyn Sweitzer and family of Exeter; his brother, Ken Haywald and family of Clinton, S.C.; mother and father-in-law Keith and Merrie Gerry of Alfred, Maine; and other in-laws, cousins, aunts, extended family and friends from all over. He is sorely missed by those who knew and loved him.

Services will be held Friday, Aug. 28 at Florida National Cemetery in Bushnell, Fla. at 1100.

The family would like to thank the staff of Lakeland Regional Medical Center on the MICU floor during his stay for their diligent, loving care they gave to him and us.

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