Emporium lost one of its greatest “characters” of all time this past week.
John Gartner, a son of the late Stanley Jacob and Thelma Montgomery Gartner, was born at home in Emporium May 18,1938.
John passed away at Snyder Memorial Health Center, Marienville, PA Friday afternoon (November 3, 2023) after a brief illness.
John served in the Air Force, training pilots and parachute jumpers in survival techniques, then returned to Emporium and piloted small planes for Stackpole. He flew anything with wings, and due to daring stunts survived three airplane and one helicopter crash. John was an avid rattlesnake hunter, skier, sailor, fisherman, and model airplane pilot.
John was a pretty big influence on his city-slicker nieces and nephew, who he taught to ride horses, milk the venom from rattlesnakes, shoot beer cans, jump off rope swings high over East Branch dam, fly hang gliders over the valley, and to appreciate Boone’s Farm and Swisher Sweets cigars (in moderation).
After moving to Florida where he flew helicopters for Mosquito Control, he returned to Emporium often on vacations, then entire summers, to spend time in the great outdoors with family and friends at the Rich Valley Camp and other beautiful spots. He was easy to spot cruising around town in his beloved “Vanna White.”
John’s biggest wish was to come back to Emporium. He moved back three years ago and enjoyed going out to the mountains and watching the sunsets over the countryside. Our family thanks Judy Erskine and the McKeirnan family for all the help and time they so graciously gave to keep him safe while living independently until most recently.
He will be sincerely missed by his family and many friends, who can toast him with a Straub and remember the day he flew under the Broad Street bridge, defying both death and the authorities.
John is survived by his sisters Dinah Gartner Baker (Jack) of Mentor, OH, and Sandy Gartner Shields (Tom) of Emporium, PA; his nieces, Jackie Sajewski of Mentor, Dianne Baker (Jay Odell) of Fredericksburg, VA and Stacy Shields of Philadelphia; nephew, Stan Baker (Alison) of Fraser, CO, and several grandnieces and grandnephews.
In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by a niece, Julie Baker Dodson of Albuquerque, NM.
There will be no visitation. Services will be held privately at the convenience of the family.
Memorial Contributions may be made to the charity of the donor’s choice.
Online Condolences may be placed at www.BarnettFuneralHome.net
BARNETT FUNERAL HOME, Inc. entrusted with arrangements.