How does someone begin to write an obituary for the person that they hold most dear in this world? It would be too trivial, cold, and too final. I chose, instead, to write you a final love letter that reflects just a small piece of what you mean to us.
I would trade our life together with NONE other! You were my best friend, my partner, my supporter, my protector, my provider, and the truest love of my life. God blessed us with 39 years of marriage together all starting with a simple blind date. Although we were both raised by wonderful Christian parents, we grew up with two different religious backgrounds. We agreed from the start that God is omnipotent and it did not matter which church we attended, as long as we were praising the Lord together as a family. We were blessed with two incredible boys who kept us very busy with activities and sporting events. You were a devoted father and set an amazing example for them by your faith in God, work ethic, dedication to family and friends, and to the service of others - as God has called us all to do. You coached the boys in YMCA soccer, basketball, and T-ball, and when they grew older, you helped coach them in Little League baseball. When they got into high school sports, nothing made you prouder than watching them continue with the love of sports and cheering them on from the stands. When you were in your early fifties, you joined their indoor soccer team and became their goalie. When opposing teams referred to you as an “old man”, you took it in stride and continued playing with your boys. You also learned to ski as an adult so that you could ski with them.
You became a grandfather at the age of 53. Jack became your little “Bucco” and followed you around wherever you went. He will never forget you and all the fun you both had playing ball, soccer, frisbee, goofy golf, fishing, water balloons, squirt guns, catching lightning bugs, or whatever other mischief the two of you got into.
We will never understand how or why you developed lung cancer two years ago. As a non-smoker, healthy eater, and very active and fit man, it seemed impossible that this could happen. You said from the beginning of your fight that cancer was not going to change who you were - and it never did. You continued to work at the job of your dreams while getting procedures, chemotherapy and radiation treatments, bloodwork, scans, MRIs, etc. Even your doctors and nurses were amazed at your stamina. You had to take one winter off from skiing but were thrilled that you could return to the mountain last year and looked forward to it again this year.
You lived an admired lifetime of service. In addition to your volunteer coaching, you served as an altar boy and usher at St. John’s Byzantine Church in Scottdale, an usher and Board of Trustees Member at Stahlstown Trinity United Methodist Church, a volunteer for the Flax Scutching Festival, a Board Member of the Loyalhanna Watershed Association, and more than 24 years as a volunteer for the food pantry. Before your diagnosis, you were a blood donor and anticipated organ donor. You were always there to aid a family member or friend who needed help.
Your love of Pittsburgh sports, especially the Steelers, was quite evident. No one else was permitted to sit in your recliner chair and hold onto your Terrible Towel during a game. You could call plays, recall stats, and discuss almost anything related to football. Sunday games and family dinners were very special to you.
We will forever admire you for your strength, faith, and dedication - not only to God and your family, but to fighting this debilitating disease. You were our true hero and the strongest and bravest person that we ever knew.
You are now at peace and in eternal rest with our Lord and Savior. We will be together again! You have heard the words that you have lived your life to hear: “Well done, well done, my good and faithful one. Welcome to the place where you belong. ”
Until we meet again, our love for you will remain. “Love takes care!”
Ame, Jesten, Jake, and Jack
Gary Edward Gula was born on September 20, 1962 and was called to heaven on September 10, 2022. He was the son of William and Sophia (Kocan) Gula of Scottdale. He graduated from Southmoreland High School in 1980. He worked at Warehouse Groceries for 25 years and for Wink and Rachel Knowles for 17 years. He leaves behind many family members and friends who will miss him wholeheartedly. Final arrangements for Gary are private. A celebration of his life will be held in the near future. We thank all of our friends and family members who have given us their love, support, and prayers during the last two years. We also thank the compassionate medical personnel who participated in his care.