Michael Arthur Gass

April 25, 1928 - January 13, 2022

Michael Arthur Gass

The extraordinary journey of Michael Arthur Gass ended at age 93 on January 13, 2022, at St. Michaels Hospital in Silverdale, Washington.

The oldest son of Michael and Goldie Gass was born in Wayne, Michigan April 25, 1928. He had wonderful parents, but the grinding poverty of the Great Depression and his father’s premature death from rheumatic heart disease limited their support.

With a brilliant mind and powerful work ethic he proved the maxim that “deprivation is the best motivation”

As a child he won the Detroit Free Press Spelling Bee when Detroit was three times its current size and went on to win many more spelling bees well into his eighties.

He could not afford to attend high school, instead working in the Henry Ford Trade School of the River Rouge factory sweeping stairs on his knees and operating extremely dangerous machinery long before safety guidelines existed. The automatic pay raise he received every six months of five cents an hour did not make up for the lunch whose meat was very thinly sliced because it was so tough, but it did help support his struggling family.

Workdays at Henry Ford Trade School ended in night classes of basic academics. No history was taught because Henry Ford said “history is bunk” but this left time for a metallurgy class. Despite his limited formal education, he received a scholarship to Hillsdale College. Necessary part-time work to help pay for school included unloading lumber from railroad cars, cooking/housekeeping for a faculty family, and a job as a “hooker” (hooking car frames to chains) on an auto assembly line. Graduating with high grades, Mike was admitted to the University of Michigan Medical School but chose Wayne State Medical School because living with relatives was much less expensive.

Mike married while in medical school and after graduating joined the US Navy where he underwent residency training for a year in surgery. Because “surgery was too much work” he switched to radiology. During his 15-year Naval career he served at bases in Philadelphia, Providence and finally Bremerton. He enjoyed his service in the Navy but left as a Commander as soon as possible once he saw the beauty of the Pacific Northwest.

His solo Radiology practice soon grew into a group providing imaging and radiation therapy in Bremerton and at Harrison Hospital where he practiced for more than 30 years. During this time, he built medical clinics in Silverdale and Poulsbo. He also purchased another clinic in Sequim.

Active in the medical community Mike served as president of both the Kitsap County Medical Society and Kitsap Physicians Service. He also was deeply involved in environmental causes serving as president of the Hood Canal Environmental Council. He even had a salmon hatchery research station of the University of Washington on his property.

A proud Silverdale Rotarian for almost 60 years he participated in numerous activities (the most memorable involving rotating a growing pig among members to increase attendance), served as president, and never missed a chance to speak fondly and enthusiastically of all things Rotary.

He was very generous, often helping those who lived on the margins and financially supporting his college as well as other worthy charitable and environmental organizations.

As a lover of arts and people, he supported the local jazz music community, both in his home and at all the local venues, usually arriving just as the band was wrapping up. Countless hours of his last years Mike spent roaming the floors of the Clearwater Casino where he was a “compulsive socializer” who delighted in the company of his colorful friends.

He loved his Hood Canal waterfront farm in Lone Rock. He was an expert in horticulture, had greenhouses, and numerous animals ranging from those common on farms to peacocks and black swans. Who could ever forget the grocery bags full of homegrown zucchinis he bestowed on everyone he met as well as his signature potent homemade holiday rum balls!

Mike was enormously proud of and loved all seven of his children including Michael, Cynthia, Frederick, Jonathan, Suzanne, Benjamin, and Olivia. All grew up involved in the Lone Rock activities that occurred on both land and sea before each went on to follow their own path.

Mike will forever be remembered for his keen mind, wit, off beat sense of humor, incredible breadth of interests, and ability to relate to virtually anyone. He cherished life and fought valiantly to not miss even a single minute.

His absence is deeply felt by all his family and a great many others he encountered while on his journey.

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