Witsken, Rev. Gerard J. Loving son of the late Lawrence H., Sr. and Antoinette (Duwel) Witsken. Dear brother of the late Lawrence H., Jr. (Mary Ann) Witsken and Richard A. (Jeannette) Witsken. Survived by numerous nieces and nephews. Former Pastor of St. Vincent de Paul Church (Riverside), St. Peter Church (New Richmond), Holy Cross-Immaculata Church (Mt. Adams), retired Air Force Chaplain and teacher at Elder High School. Passed away on Monday, February 18, 2019 at 76 years of age. Reception of the body at St. Teresa of Avila Church, 1175 Overlook Ave., on Thursday at 5:00 PM followed by Visitation until 7:00 PM. Mass of Christian Burial will be held on Friday at 10:00 AM. Burial with military honors to follow at St. Joseph Old Cemetery. Memorials may be made to Elder High School, 3900 Vincent Ave., Cincinnati, Ohio 45205.
Father Gary was born on October 3, 1942 in Cincinnati’s Western Hills, the third son of Lawrence Witsken and Antoinette Duwel. His father’s father emigrated from Germany in 1894, one of five siblings who left a dairy farm in Germany to come to Cincinnati. Soon after marrying, his grandfather started his own dairy farm in Price Hill and it eventually grew from a farm into a business with 13 delivery routes. After Antoinette’s father died, she moved with her mother and sister to a new home across from Witsken’s Dairy and met his father who lived next to the dairy. In the early 50’s the dairy was sold and some 250 homes were built on the property. Father Gary was the youngest of three boys.
He attended St. Teresa School, Elder High School and St. Gregory and Mt. St. Mary’s Seminary. He almost gave a try at becoming a veterinarian and was accepted into Xavier University, when the Holy Spirit stepped into his life with other ideas. Ordained on May 24, 1969, he was assigned to Our Lady of Angels Parish in Sidney, Ohio but soon returned to Cincinnati and spent 16 years teaching Spanish and Religion at Elder High School while living at St. Antoninus Parish (for two separate assignments), Our Lady of Lourdes, St. Margaret Mary, & St. Teresa before becoming pastor at St. Vincent de Paul Church and later St. Peter’s in New Richmond. In 2005, he was appointed pastor of Immaculata/Holy Trinity and Old St. Mary’s. He retired in 2008 and went on to help celebrate daily and Sunday masses at Our Lady of the Visitation Parish until 2013. At this point, he moved to Bayley Place, receiving excellent care in his final years.
In his spare time, Father Gary was an avid traveler/hiker and enjoyed spending time with Poncho, his pet Macaw. https://youtu.be/yMfMZrZunDI
He studied Spanish for short periods of time in Madrid and Malaga, Spain and Cochabamba, Bolivia at the Maryknoll Language School. He was chaplain of the baseball team and ski club at Elder. He was also a chaplain in the Air Force Reserves for 20 years stationed at Wright Patterson Air Base, the last 12 years with the 906th Fighter Squadron.