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Gary Dean Southard 1935 - 2012

POSTED February 8, 2012 10:31 p.m.

CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. — Gary Dean Southard, born George Gary Dean Southard on Jan. 16, 1935, passed away on Jan. 24 at Broward General Medical Center with family at his bedside, from complications of heart disease. A resident of Coral Springs, Fla., since 1978, he was born in Hutchinson and raised in Great Bend. Before coming to Great Bend, his family followed their father in the oil fields in Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas. Gary graduated from Great Bend High School.

Gary served his country in the Air Force and the Naval Reserves. His goal was to fly, but he was not allowed to train because of color blindness. As a youngster, he became a novice Ham Radio operator, WN0OVJ. Later, in 2004 he got his license for Amateur Extra AC4GS. As a teenager he became the radio engineer for the Great Bend Radio Station. He helped his father install water softeners during the early years of Southard Home Improvement.

As a young man he obtained a license to repair radios, which he did in the harbors of Los Angeles, Calif. He recalled that the occupation mainly required crawling around the smelly hulls of fishing boats. However, he was once called on to repair the radio on Humphrey Bogart’s yacht. Other "fun" jobs that he obtained were: arming atomic bombs placed in holes dug in the Nevada desert, which were often also occupied by rattlesnakes that loved hiding in them; and working for a company owned by Howard Hughes that was building an early spy satellite.

Moving to Ohio, he worked for North Electric Company, designing telephone systems. While there, he obtained his private pilot’s license. He then decided to change careers and attended Ohio State University Dental School. He didn’t finish dental school, but while there, gained a lifelong friend and mate, Mary. In 1969, they married and moved to St. Louis, Mo., where he worked for Conductron, a company that designed flight simulators for huge passenger planes. He got to fly the simulators to test his software, which he loved doing. North Electric Company asked him back, and he returned to Columbus, Ohio. When North Electric Company downsized, he went to work for Siemens Corporation in Cherry Hill, N.J. Siemens moved to Boca Raton, Fla., and the family moved to Coral Springs, Fla., where he enjoyed the rest of his life. He was proud of the patents he held through both North Electric and Siemens. The knowledge and expertise that prepared him for his career in electronics were acquired only through self education.

Hobbies he enjoyed were astronomy, throwing pottery, blowing glass, ham radio, woodworking, building model airplanes and helicopters, and building computers. He could fix anything.

Gary is survived by his wife, Mary Dettmer Southard; his brother, Joe Southard and wife Loretta; his sister, Sharon Erwin and husband Bert; one son, Anthony Southard; three daughters, Lara Marsh and husband David, Tanya Horne and husband Matthew, and Kara Southard; and eight grandchildren, Cory, Austin and Sara Marsh, Bradley Cote, Noah and Cameron Horne, and Devin Southard; and step-granddaughter, Sara Horne. He is also survived by nieces and nephews, Mark Erwin, Jana Durfee, Pamela Roemer, Lauri Wenberg, and Michael Southard and their families. He was preceded in death by his parents, George and Claudie Southard; his daughter Katherine Southard; and his nephew Steven Erwin.

A memorial service was held in his honor on Feb. 4 at Tamarac, Fla.

 

Great Bend (Kan.) Tribune, Feb. 9, 2012**

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