Obituary: Gary Castonia, 75, of Ludington

June 7, 2024

Gary Castonia

Gary “Cazie” Edward Castonia of Ludington passed away on Wednesday June 5, 2024, at the age of 75. Gary was born on Oct. 18, 1948, in Ludington, at the Paulina Stearns Hospital, to George Castonia and Frances (Boreson) Castonia. He was a lifetime resident of Ludington and devoted his life to his family. He also devoted his life to serving his community and country.

Gary graduated from Ludington High School in 1966. He attended West Shore Community College for two years, two classes short of earning a degree.

Gary began his years after graduation by joining the U.S. Army on Dec. 1, 1966. He took basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. From there he went to AIT at Fort Lee, Virginia. It was at Fort Lee that he got his next orders to Vietnam. He served in Vietnam from Aug. 1967 to Aug. 1968 with the 4th Infantry Division, serving during the Tet Offensive. In Vietnam he was taught how to run a keypunch machine and the NCR system. He took his R & R to Hong Kong. From Vietnam he received orders to Fort Benning, Georgia. After serving at Fort Benning for 14 months he was honorably discharged from the service and came back to Ludington.

While in the service Gary earned the following medals: Army Commendation Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal, U.S.C.G Expert Pistol Medal, U.S.C.G. Expert Rifle Medal, Combat Service Commemorative Medal, Vietnam Defense Commemorative Medal, Cold War Victory Commemorative Medal, Overseas Service Commemorative Medal, U.S. Army Commemorative Medal, Honorable Discharge Commemorative Medal, Vietnam 50th Anniversary Commemorative Medal, Vietnam Tet Campaign Commemorative Medal.

After getting out of the service he got a job at Montgomery Wards and while working there he met the love of his life on a blind date, Karolyn (KayKay) Whitman. They met on Feb. 6, 1970, and were on a fast track of a long marriage by getting married on May 30, 1970. While married they had two sons (because Castonia’s don’t have girls, ha ha).

Gary continued with his commitment to public service by joining the Ludington Police Department in 1971. There he served as a patrolman and detective before retiring in 1994. During this time Gary enlisted in the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve for approximately three years. While working at the police department, Gary was a member of the Fraternal Order of Police and served as president and secretary.

While at the police department Gary and his friend, Wally Taranko, coached the seventh and eighth grade Blue Devils which they both enjoyed. Gary also coached his sons’ baseball games in grade school.

Gary’s proudest moment while on the police department happened on the morning of December 25, 1987. Gary and two other officers received a call of a man down. Upon arriving at the scene, they discovered Gordon Schultz on the floor not breathing, CPR was started and continued until paramedics arrived who then took over and transported to Memorial Medical Center. Mr. Schultz survived for many more years. He was awarded a Life Saving Award from the Red Cross.

Gary was also a member of the American Legion, serving as vice commander for a few years, and a past member of the Elks and Eagles.

After retiring from the Ludington Police Department Gary started work for Ludington Mass Transit in February of 1995 and worked there for approximately 18 years. While working at LMTA Gary came up with a spreadsheet for them, instead of doing the work by hand, he would just put in the numbers, and this would do the math.

While still working at Ludington Mass Transit Gary was enlisted to do the stats for the Ludington Orioles football team in 1999 until 2020. Gary also did the yard sticks for the JV football team.

In January 2003 Gary applied for and was appointed to the Ludington Planning Commission and served until December 2005. In November 2005 he was elected to the Ludington City Council Sixth Ward and began serving in January 2006. While on the Ludington City Council Gary served on the finance committee, was chairman of the public safety/public utilities committee and also served on the West Michigan Shoreline Regional Development Commission, Michigan Works! West Central Board. Gary served the Sixth Ward until he resigned in July of 2017 to apply for a position on the Mason County Board of Commissioners, Second District, a seat he held until retiring last year. On the County Commission he served as chairman of public safety and courts committee, on parks and recreation commission, and solid waste planning committee.

Gary was also appointed to the Mason County Sports Hall of Fame Board of Directors in October 2009.

In 2007 and 2010 Gary went to Detroit Tiger Fantasy Camp and met and played with some of his favorite players. This is when he started collecting autographed baseballs, he had over 200 individual autographed balls. He also had a collection of bobble-heads and other memorabilia.

In his spare time, Todd “Scoop” Hansen enlisted him to do radio of football and basketball games for WKLA and then WMOM. Gary was known as “Cazie”.

Gary is survived by his wife, Karolyn Kay (Whitman) Castonia; son, Mark Castonia and his wife Trisha; son, Timothy Castonia and his wife Brooke; grandchildren, Devin (Alex Loosa) Castonia, Trevor Castonia, Tre’ (Cassie Mickervich) Castonia, Whitney (Russell) Copsey, Lacie (Chris) Chavalia; great-grandchildren, Devin Castonia Jr., Scarlett Castonia, Saniyah Castonia, Cayden Valentis, Claire Chavalia, Lucy Chavalia, Letty Chavalia, Wyatt Copsey, and Josie Copsey; brothers, Thomas Castonia and his wife Ann, John Castonia and his wife Laura; and many nieces and nephews.

Gary was preceded in death by his parents; brother Robert; and brother Donald.

In lieu of flowers, donations may go to the Ludington Girls Softball team and Our Savior Lutheran Church of Scottville.

A visitation will be held on Tuesday, June 11, 2024, from 5 to 7 p.m. at Oak Grove Funeral Home of Ludington.

A memorial service will be held on Wednesday, June 12, 2024, at Our Savior Lutheran Church of Scottville (Amber Township) at noon. Visitation begins at 11 a.m. at the church.

Arrangements were entrusted to Oak Grove Funeral Home of Ludington, www.OakGroveLudington.com.

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