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William D. "Bill" Gaston

Obituary for William D. "Bill" Gaston

December 27, 1927 - January 26, 2019
Austin, Texas | Age 91


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.

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Suggested Memorial Donations

  • 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 c

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Weed-Corley-Fish Funeral Home North

3125 N Lamar Blvd.
Austin, TX 78705
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