Rev. Stanley P. Gasek, 85, rector

August 09, 2002|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

The Rev. Stanley Paul Gasek Sr., a retired pastoral associate at the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer and former rector of Grace Episcopal Church in Utica, N.Y., died of a heart attack Tuesday at Blakehurst Life Care Community in Towson. He was 85.

Born and raised in Utica, he was the son of Polish Catholic parents who emigrated through Ellis Island and settled in upstate New York.

"When he was in his teens he decided to join the Episcopal Church," said a son, Stanley Paul Gasek Jr. of Brewster, Mass.

After graduating from Utica Free Academy in 1935, he enrolled at Hobart College and earned a bachelor's degree in 1939.

Mr. Gasek attended General Theological Seminary in New York City and earned a bachelor's degree in sacred theology in 1942. After his ordination that year, he began his pastoral career as rector of St. John's Episcopal Church in Cape Vincent, N.Y.

Mr. Gasek enlisted in the Army in 1944 as a chaplain and was later trained as a paratrooper with the 505th Parachute Infantry. After being sent to Europe, he was assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division, which liberated prisoner of war and concentration camps as it fought across Germany to Berlin.

"Fluent in Polish, he led newly freed Polish prisoners in prayers and the first religious rites they had had since incarceration," his son said.

During the occupation of Berlin, he broke his back in a practice jump at Tempelhof Airfield and was sent to Fort Benning, Ga., for recuperation.

While at Fort Benning, a local Episcopal clergyman introduced him to his future wife, Mary Ellen Compton. They were married in 1948, three years after Mr. Gasek's discharge.

After leaving the armed forces with the rank of captain, he resumed his career, as interim rector of Grace Episcopal Church in Utica.

"The congregation wound up asking him to be rector and he stayed 40 years before retiring in 1987," his son said.

Mr. Gasek moved to Baltimore in 1987 and was the planned-giving officer for the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland from 1992 until 1997. He later served as a pastoral associate at Episcopal Church of the Redeemer, where he visited and brought Holy Communion to the homebound, and those in nursing homes and hospitals. He retired in 2000 when his health began to decline.

"On Easter Sunday, we'd go home after church and he'd be out for several more hours taking Communion to those who were unable to get to church," his son said.

Since 1957, Mr. Gasek enjoyed spending time at a second home in Brewster on Cape Cod. He also was an avid golfer.

Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. tomorrow in the chapel of the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer, 5603 N. Charles St.

In addition to his wife and son, Mr. Gasek is survived by two other sons, Shelby C. Gasek of Tampa, Fla., and Thomas D. Gasek of Great Barrington, Mass.; and three grandchildren.

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