Frederick Phillip Gatz, 84, of Yukon, Oklahoma, passed away peacefully with his wife and children by his side on Saturday evening, December 9th, 2023, at Mercy Hospital in Oklahoma City.
Fred was born on February 7th, 1939, in Alva, Oklahoma, to LeRoy and Mary (Eggstein) Gatz. He spent his entire life living and raising his family in Oklahoma.
Fred grew up and attended school in Alva, Oklahoma. While in school he worked with his dad on the farm and graduated an Alva Goldbug in 1957. In the summers he worked on the farm and held numerous other jobs as well. In 1957 he attended Northwestern College for two years where he met the love of his life, Karen. Fred transferred to Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, OK to continue his education but came home about every other weekend to see Karen.
After dating for almost 4 years, Fred and Karen married in Goltry, OK on February 17th, 1961, which happened to also be Karen’s birthday, so Fred knew he’d always remember their anniversary as well. Fred also told friends and family, jokingly, “It hailed on us on our wedding day and it’s been ‘hail’ ever since.”
Fred and Karen shared their first home as newlyweds together in the barracks in Stillwater, OK while he finished college. After Fred graduated, they lived in Oklahoma City for a summer where he worked at an Ice Plant. They moved to Dallas, TX to begin his engineering career, while also starting a family. After living in Dallas until 1965 they moved back to Karen’s family home in Cleo Springs, OK. Fred helped Karen’s dad on the farm and also drove back and forth to Bethany, OK to work at Aero Commander. He said he’d take that drive any day over driving to Norman, OK and back. They built their first house in Yukon, OK within the Ranchwood North Edition and rented a house in Bethany, OK while it was being completed. To further his career, Fred traveled to St. Louis, MO to work for a short time “job shopping” in his career field. During this time they also began searching for land to buy and build a home. In 1969, Fred and Karen looked at the land where they currently live and bought it on the spot. They have remained there to this day, having raised three children and would have celebrated 64 years of marriage on February, 17 2024.
Fred was a jack of many trades, holding numerous jobs after graduating from Oklahoma State University in 1963 with a Bachelors of Science in Mechanical Engineering – Aero Option Structures. Other then previous jobs mentioned, together, Fred and Karen opened and ran a Hobby Shop for a short time, having fun discovering what treasures they would find when opening trailer loads of items purchased sight unseen to sell in the shop.
He started his career as a Design Engineer in 1963 for LTV in Garland and Greenville, TX then joined Aero Commander in Bethany, OK from 1967-1969. He continued his career as a Stress Engineer from 1969-1970 with McDonnell Douglas in St. Charles, MO and back to North American Rockwell in Bethany, OK from 1970-1971. In 1971 he joined Aero Commander/Gulfstream Stress Group working his way up to Section Head of Structures, responsible for structural certification on single and twin engines until 1989. While there he was a company DER for four years. In 1989 he ventured out on his own as a Consultant Structural FAA DER starting his own business, GTEC INC., (Gatz Technical Engineering Consultants). As a consultant DER he was able to design and approve repairs and alterations on FAR part 23 and 25 certified aircraft. Having extensive knowledge with the structural certification process of several aircraft models produced in Bethany, OK, he also created and approved numerous Service Bulletin documents for the twin engine turbo prop models, which are now FAA mandatory compliance Advisory Directives. In 1991 his youngest son, Gary, joined him in the business and they worked side by side until his retirement as coworkers and close friends for the last 32 years. Fred’s career spanned over 60 years as a DER Aircraft Stress Analyst, completing and approving over 6,100 repairs and alterations as a consultant DER.
Fred enjoyed fishing with friends and family, especially his father-in-law, Johnny Martin. He also loved taking thier greyhounds coyote hunting with Johnny. He loved his horses and especially his pair of mules, Kat and Becky. He has enjoyed owning numerous types of horse drawn carriages, several of which Kat and Becky have pulled in various small town parades with family members on board. He also enjoyed taking his authentic chuck wagon to weekend events as well. Even though his career required him to sit at a desk, he loved working with his hands, getting dirty and working outside. There was no idle time for Fred, as he was still mowing and weedeating the acreage at age 84. If he thought of it, there was no doubt that he could create it and build it.
Fred will be deeply missed by his family and friends. He is survived by his wife, Karen (Martin) Gatz of the home in Yukon, Oklahoma; son, John Gatz of Bethany; daughter, Julie Marley and husband Craig of Piedmont; and son, Gary Gatz and wife Glenda of Piedmont; sister, Alfreda Wirtz and husband Ken of Moore; and Brother, Don Gatz of California. He is also remembered by his grandchildren, Jerrod Gatz and wife Jamie; Jonathan Gatz and wife Autumn; Blake Marley and Debbie Armstrong; Barry Marley and wife Kayla; Chandler Gatz; Cheldon Gatz; and great-grand children, Jaxson, Josephine, and Juliana Gatz and Jamison & Scarlett Marley; as well as many nieces and nephews, great nieces and great nephews, and many life long friends.
He is preceded in death by his parents, LeRoy and Mary Gatz.
A memorial service will be held at 2pm Monday, December 18th, 2023 at Buchanan Funeral Service in Oklahoma City, OK. Viewing will be on Sunday, December 17th, from 1pm to 8pm.