Meet Gary: A Good Example and a Good Fisherman

For this month’s Resident Spotlight we cast our lines out to our Lake in the Hills Resident Gary and his wife Colleen. Community Relations Manager Kate and I reached out to Colleen to share some of her favorite moments and memories across the years. Read on below to learn about Gary’s local work and his adventurous career and hobbies.


Gary was born within an hour’s drive of The Heathers in Rockford, Illinois.  He spent his childhood and much of his adult life there, moving to the Milwaukee area in 1982. He and Colleen then moved back to Illinois and then to Portage, MI before retiring in Arizona in 2001. At every location in which Gary lived he was active in the Lutheran church, serving on several church councils and a Kingdom Weekend leader, initiating the ministry in several churches.

Gary and Colleen got married in 1961 and have been happily married for 62 years.   They have two children and five amazing grandchildren. Colleen marvels that her husband’s love and dedication constantly shine through his actions, and he has been “a wonderful husband, father and grandfather, always putting his family’s happiness and choices ahead of his own.”  Sincere in everything he does, Gary’s family describe him as generous, loving and strong and as someone who always sets a clear, good example for others.

Gary discovered one of his lifelong passions as a teenager. At the age of 16 he received his private pilot’s license. He then studied at the University of Illinois and the esteemed American Flyers organization to receive his commercial l license. His early passion led to an expansive career as a professional pilot for 42 years, flying for companies whose legacies are still well known in the world of aviation today. He flew a B-26 (bomber) plane that was converted for corporate use, King Airs and Lear Jets, the Lears being his favorite plane.

Some of Gary’s fun accomplishments were skydiving out of “a perfectly good airplane,” and running the Milwaukee marathon.  While retired in Arizona he loved being a hike leader for their hiking club on several Arizona mountains.

Gary always enjoyed his grandchildren, and Colleen believes that in addition to holidays, their visits to Arizona were Gary’s most treasured moments with them. Many hours were spent swimming, Salt River rafting and hiking.

For many years Gary enjoyed golfing, and he and Colleen went on several golf vacations with friends from every city in which they lived. The two also went on several cruises, but their favorite was the German river cruise.  Gary was also an avid gardener, planting many tomato and pepper plants, cucumbers, zucchini and kohlrabi.  He and Colleen canned many, many quarts of tomatoes and dill pickles.  Wherever they moved if they couldn't have a garden in their yard, he found a garden plot.


Gary’s favorite hobby was fishing, which began when he was a boy going to his grandparent’s cottage in Lake Mills, WI and continued well into retirement. He and a group of close friends went to Canada fishing for several years. The group pulled seven boats up to Canada and fished from sun up to sun down for a week. After a long day of fishing, they would gather around with their catches and cook themselves a mighty feast. Gary particularly liked catching and eating walleye.  In the evening they would share stories and laughter about the fruits of their labor (and probably a few beers).

We’d like to thank Gary, Colleen, and family for the wonderful stories and anecdotes celebrating a generous, vivacious, and sincere member of our community.


june 2024-gary at heathers


  1. Jeannie McCloskey on June 5, 2024 at 1:52 pm

    Great story!! Thanks for sharing the best of the best of Gary and Colleen!!

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