Harry N. Gustafson, 95, celebrated Navy WWII Veteran, died peacefully at home while in the care of his loving wife and family. Harry was born in Brockton Massachusetts, son of the late Harry and Gertrude (Skillings) Gustafson. After graduating from Brockton High School (class of 1942) Harry enlisted into the US Navy and served his country during three major wars.
From his enlistment through the end of WWII Harry served aboard the USS YMS 193 minesweeper in the Pacific Theater including during its active participation in the US assault on Iwo Jima.
During the Korean war he served aboard the USS Columbus heavy cruiser until receiving orders for duty at the US Naval Radio Facility in Londonderry, Northern Ireland. There he met and married the love of his life and his soulmate Dorcas (Joan) Rodgers, and a few years later his orders brought them back “stateside” to the Naval Air Station at Lakehurst (NJ).
During the period between the Korean and Vietnam wars Harry attended advanced training on a variety of radio communications, radar, sonar and navigation systems at notable research facilities across the country, including Hyde Park (NY), Palo Alto (CA) and Woods Hole (MA). Subsequently he served aboard the USS Compass Island navigational test and research ship and the USNS Bowditch oceanographic survey ship as they conducted operations primarily within the Atlantic Ocean and Mediteranean Sea.
In 1961 Harry was transferred to the US Navy Submarine Base in New London (CT) where he was responsible for the operation and maintenance of advanced computer systems used for a variety of simulation and training purposes. During the height of the Vietnam war Harry served aboard the USS America aircraft carrier as an Electronics Technician achieving the rank of Senior Chief Petty Officer.
Harry retired with distinction in 1969 and served for two more years in the Navy Reserve.
Since their “Emerald Isle” marriage on May 21, 1953, Harry and Joan grew their family to include five children across a span of eight years, moving from Navy base to base several times. Upon Harry’s retirement from the Navy they moved back to Massachusetts and ultimately settled in Bridgewater. For more than two decades Harry worked as a salesman for Kenwood Tire Company in West Bridgewater. Harry’s modest pleasures included an occasional bowling night at the Masonic Lodge in Brockton or playing cards and bocci with friends at the 49ers Club in Bridgewater.
Harry and Joan enjoyed travelling and saw much of the world together. They drove across the United States on more than one occasion to visit friends and relatives and to see many of the country’s notable historical sites, monuments, parks and natural wonders. They spent a summer “backpacking” with an open train ticket through all of Europe, going where their hearts and interests took them. They visited friends and family in Ireland many times, and established on-going contact with distant relatives in Sweden during their trip to Scandinavia.
Harry had a great sense of humor and an amazing power of recall for songs, rhymes, jingles and jokes that most had long forgotten. He loved music and was a talented Harmonica player. He was a true “Jack of all trades” and successfully tackled the role of general contractor through the construction of their home in Bridgewater, completing much of the work himself. While Harry’s family is proud of his many talents and accomplishments, his pride was focused on what he valued most - his family. Harry was a devoted father and enjoyed being with each of his children, sharing unique bonds with each and always being there for them, for his grandchildren and for his great grandchildren.
Harry is survived by his loving and devoted wife of sixty-seven years, Dorcas J. Gustafson, his children George H. Gustafson and his wife Anna of Berkley, James R. Gustafson and his wife June of Marshfield, Jeffrey P. Gustafson and his wife Lynne of Hanson, William G. Gustafson and his wife Nancy of Mendon, and Cynthia E. Lyons of Bridgewater. Harry was the proud “Grampa” of Kristen, Terrence, Nathan, Joshua, Ian, Jacob, Caitlin, Lucas, Alev, Peter and Max, and “Great-Grampa” of six. He is also survived by his sister Jane Wood of Bridgewater, sister in-law Irene Gustafson of Escondido (CA), brother in-law Ralph Fedele of West Bridgewater, and many nieces and nephews. Harry is predeceased by his late sister Glennis Cippulo, late brother Ralph Gustafson and late sister Phyllis Fedele.
All services for Harry will be held privately. In lieu of flowers donations in Harry’s memory may be sent to the Shriners Hospital for Children, 2900 Rocky Point Dr. Tampa, Florida 33607