William D. "Bill" Gaston

  • Born: December 27, 1927
  • Died: January 26, 2019
  • Location: Austin, Texas

Weed-Corley-Fish Funeral Home North

3125 N Lamar Blvd.
Austin, TX 78705

Tel. (512) 452-8811

Tribute & Message From The Family

Bill Gaston, age 91 of Austin, passed away peacefully on January 26, 2019. He was born in Austin, Texas on December 27, 1927 to Alpheus D. Gaston and Alleine Ware Gaston, their only child.

Bill had many fond memories of growing up in a much smaller Austin. His 32nd and Hemphill Park neighborhood was full of kids and there was a daily sandlot football or baseball game to be played. Bill's dad wanted him to become a doctor but Bill much preferred engineering. Around the age of 12 he built a go-kart. The belt drive to the lawn mower engine continually broke so he went to a motorcycle shop and upgraded to a motorcycle engine with chain drive and a three speed transmission. Result – a speed-demon machine! At the age of 14 his dad gave him a ten year-old '31 Model A Roadster convertible. He sanded it down and had it painted with a new two-tone blue scheme. The war was on and gasoline was rationed – but his father never needed his full allocation of gas – so "Billy Dick" as he was then known never ran out of gas!

Bill went on to the University of Texas to study Mechanical Engineering after Austin High School and joined Delta Tau Delta. After graduating from UT, he went to Detroit, Michigan for a work/study program which yielded a Master's in Automotive Engineering from Chrysler Institute. While at Chrysler, Bill worked on the gas turbine engine for fifteen months.

Tiring of the cold winters and as no Michigander could hold a candle to the beautiful and gregarious Dusty Grigg back in Texas, he decided to move back and marry Dusty if she would say "Yes". She did and they married in 1952.

Bill and Dusty's first year of marriage was spent at his dad's "Island Lodges" on Lake Buchanan where Bill managed an expansion of the "resort". Lake Buchanan wasn't then (and still isn't) the ideal spot to start a young marriage so Bill negotiated the purchase of "Boats and Motors" from his dad – a small business in Austin. It was a Johnson motor dealership along with wooden boats of the era. Renaming it Bill Gaston Boats and Motors, he picked up a line of new-fangled fiberglass boats from California but demand across the country wildly outstripped supply. Seeing an opportunity, he decided why not get into fiberglass boat production himself! With nine other investors, $25,000 was raised to form Glastron Boat Company in 1956. From humble beginnings, Glastron grew to over 1600 employees by the early seventies making it one of the largest employers in Austin in its time and the largest fiberglass boat manufacturer in the United States.

Given Bill's heavy involvement in the boat industry, he served as director, president and chairman of the Boating Trades Association of Texas, The American Boat and Yacht Council, the Boating Industry Association and two three-year appointments to the Boating Safety Advisory Council of the U. S. Coast Guard. He received the coveted August A. Busch Award in recognition of outstanding contribution to boating safety.

Bill's community interests and activities included serving as President and Director of the Rotary Club of Austin; Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Austin Rotary Club Foundation; member of the Dean's Committee of the UT Engineering School; member and Vice President of the Austin Chamber of Commerce, Chairman of the Board and founding Director of the North Austin State Bank, Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Austin Economic Development Foundation, as well as many other organizations.

Bill was a long-time parishioner of Good Shepherd Episcopal Church and served on its Vestry. He enjoyed his memberships to the Admirals Club, the Headliner's Club, and Westwood Country Club. Bill enjoyed many years of skiing, hiking, and 4-wheeling with friends and family at his second home in Breckenridge, Colorado. He also received much enjoyment from many years of private flying for a total of 3,700 logged hours. Most importantly, Bill was a loving husband to Dusty for 66 years, a wonderful father to his children, a fun-loving "Poppy" to his grandchildren, and a man of great character, integrity, and honesty throughout his life.

He is survived by his wife, Dusty, his son Brian Gaston and wife Jenny, his daughter Christy Gaston Bass, his grandchildren, Whitney Gaston Abblitt (Parker), Caroline Gaston, Paige Gaston, William Bass, and Brian Bass, and his great-grandson Ford Abblitt.

The family is very thankful for the wonderful care provided by the Skilled Nursing Staff at Westminster Manor during the past year and a half.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Austin Rotary Club Foundation, 301 E. 8th Street, Austin, Texas 78701 the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd Memorial Endowment Fund, 3201 Windsor Road, Austin, Texas 78703, or a charity of your choice.

Memorial services will be held Saturday, February 2, 2019 at 3:00 pm at Good Shepherd Episcopal Church, 3201 Windsor Road, Austin, Texas. There will be a reception following the service at the Headliners Club, 221 West 6th St., Ste 2100, Austin, Texas 78701.


Condolence & Memory Journal

One of Austin's all-time great gentlemen. It was a real pleasure and great honor to have known Bill Gaston. He was kind enough to offer his Lake LBJ lake house to a number of members (myself included) of Brian's HS graduation class. A number of Brian's friends wanted to assure no loss of life or risk severe injury. We all swore no alcohol prior to arriving at our ultimate destination. We considered my ranch outside of Fredericksburg, but that was a full 80 miles away. Mr. Gaston generously offered his LBJ lake house. Some of us even took boats to fish the following morning. We were allowed to spend the weekend with no monkey business and safe passage. Just a personal example of Mr. Gaston's many generous gestures. God bless you Bill Gaston.

Mrs. Gaston, Brian, Jenny and Christy you have my sincere condolences. You were fortunate to learn honor, integrity, strong character from a fine man, father and husband.

Posted by Stephen Carter - Dripping Springs, TX   February 04, 2019

So many happy memories, particularly with my parents, Bill, and Dusty. Brian and Christy, y'all take care and God bless.

Posted by Tom Umstattd - Austin, TX - Family Friend   February 03, 2019

May God bless you and your family in this time of sorrow.

Posted by Audrey Johnson - Austin, TX - coworker   February 02, 2019

My heartfelt condolences to Dusty, Brian, and Christy. Bill played such a big part in our family's life!

My dad's friendship with Bill and Dusty started during his early days of handling Glastron's advertising and continued until my dad's final days. In fact, he was one of the last people to visit my dad in the hospital before he passed away.

My first job was working 2 summers at Glastron while in high school. One of my jobs was to keep the break room (canteen) clean, so when finished I often snuck out to the assembly line and watched engine installations. I also worked in the thermoforming department which manufactured boat parts. Bill made those experiences possible.

I will remember Bill as a man of integrity who genuinely cared for me and my family as long as I can remember.

I am so sorry that I just found out about his passing or I would be there to support your family and celebrate his life. And his was a life well lived!

May God protect and comfort you all. I'll be praying for you.

Posted by Jim Lacy - Austin, TX   February 02, 2019

My condolences to the family

Posted by Deanna Power - Mckinney, TX - Friend   February 02, 2019

Rest in peace, Bill. You were a good man and a good friend! You lived a great life contributing so much to so many.

Posted by J. David Holmes - Wimberley, TX   February 02, 2019

Dear Brian and Gaston Family,

Please accept my condolences on the passing of your father. He was always friendly, thoughtful and engaging. As I think of him now, it is with great admiration and fondness. He was a gentleman and a true leader of our Austin business communityGod Bless.

Posted by August Petersen - AUSTIN, TX - Family Friend   February 02, 2019

our sincere condolences to Dusty&family
barbara&bill padgett

Posted by A friend   February 01, 2019

I went to work for Mr. Gaston in 1963 as parts & boating accessories manager. I was 20 yrs. old & about to be married to my future wife Joyce. I loved working for Bill at Boats & Motors & enjoyed a great working relationship with him & his wife Dusty & all the people who worked at Boats & Motors & Glastron Boat Co.
Joyce and I wish to offer our sincere condolences to Dusty, & Brian & Christy & their children.

Posted by Jim & Joyce Evans - Austin, TX - Coworker   January 31, 2019

Met Bill in 1967 interviewing for VP Marketing @ Glastron w/ he & Bob Hammond. Then ended up friends. His good friend & next door neighbor Bill Milstead & shared several social occasions & Bill was always great to be around. Deepest condolences to wife Dusty & Family. My thoughts and fond memories will always be in mind of those special times. 1967-1990

Posted by Ken Johnson - Las Vegas, NV - Friend   January 30, 2019

I am so sorry for your loss our loving God promises to give you the strength to cope with the pain of your loss. He also promises to hold your hand every step of the way. Please take comfort that he does care at Isaiah 63:9 and Jeremiah 29:11,12.

Posted by A friend   January 30, 2019

Bill Gaston was one of the smartest men I have ever known. I worked at Bill Gaston Inc. for 8 years, 70-78, and 2 years at Boats and Motors. Those were 10 of the most fun years of my life because nothing is more fun than boats. The many really good people we worked with in those years I have never forgotten. He was a very good man..
Marvin McKinnon

Posted by A friend   January 30, 2019

I want to offer my sincere condolences to Dusty,Brian and Christy on the passing of Bill. I had the honor and pleasure of working with Bill at Glastron in the early seventies. Bill was a pillar in the marine industry as a manufacturer,distributor and dealer. His keen sense of engineering as well as his patience and compassion were key elements in Glastron's success. He was admired by all who knew him in the industry and I personally wish there were more like him in the business today. I thank him for his leadership and inspiration and I will miss him.

Posted by Mark Belisle Belisle - Austin, TX - Coworker   January 30, 2019

What a giant of a man! Our hearts are with you as you grieve this loss. Hugs from all of us.

Posted by Claire Webber McLaurin - Baltimore, MD   January 30, 2019

Mr. Gaston was a very good man and someone that I learned so much from and used his knowledge as I spent my many years working with Glastron Boats. It was great that he and Dusty were able to attend Glastron's 50th Anniversary held in Austin in 2006. As always he was a true gentleman and a major part of the great success Glastron enjoyed in the 70's and 80's.

My sincere condolences to Dusty and the family. I know you will have many fond memories of this great man.

Posted by Bruce Sargent - Little Falls, MN   January 30, 2019

Posted by Bruce Sargent - Little Falls, MN   January 30, 2019

Christy, I am so sorry to learn of the loss of your father. I had so much fun with you, your father and brother when we flew to California in ~1977 to check out a sailboat there. That was my first airplane ride. His memory will always be a blessing to you and your family. We are never ready for this when your parent dies. Unfortunately, I am unable to attend his service and I will miss seeing you.
Anne Alexander

Posted by Anne Alexander - Austin, TX - Friend   January 29, 2019

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