Gerald Gust Autio
Feb 23, 1941 – Dec 23, 2015
Gerald (Jerry) Gust Autio, aka Pick
Born February 23, 1941 in Wakefield, MI to Olga Mathilda Schneck (deceased) and Wiita August (Gust) Autio (deceased). Brother to Judith Pauline (deceased). Jerry’s battle with Alzheimer’s ended due to heart failure December 23, 2015 at Swedish Hospital in Edmonds, WA.
Jerry leaves behind his beloved wife of 50 years, Laura (LaBounty), sons Steven (wife Tiffinie), and David (wife Heidi) and daughter Michelle. Granddaughters Nicholette, Annatasia and Bella, and grandson Orion all will miss their loving grandpa.
The Gust Autio family moved from Michigan to Seattle, WA when Jerry was about 5 years old. Finding no work in Seattle, they moved to Los Angeles, CA for a few years. After moving back to Seattle, Gust was hired on at the Pullman Railroad. They lived in the Duwamish Bend Projects near family. Jerry’s cousin, Reggie, two years younger, was his best friend. Jerry graduated from Cleveland High School on Beacon Hill in Seattle in 1959. He attended the University of Washington until Reggie graduated high school and the two cousins joined the army together.
Although Reggie remained in Texas after basic training, Jerry went to Germany where he served in the Davy Crockett Armored Division until his discharge from active duty in 1964. While serving, he received three letters of commendation for his marksmanship and leadership from a Major General, a Major and a Captain. He served 3 years active duty and 5 years in the reserves. After returning to his parents’ home in Seattle, he worked a few odd jobs until he decided to visit his sister who was working at a hospital in Florida. While there he worked as a pool boy, monkey sitter, and security guard. When Jerry returned to Seattle, he and his dad went prospecting in northern California. While trying to strike it rich they supported themselves by working on a road crew. Gust succumbed to a heart attack while hiking with Jerry one day, so Jerry had to bring him back to Seattle.
In July 1960 Jerry met Laura LaBounty at a Seattle Seafair Street Dance. They began dating briefly, but after finding out how young she was, (15), 19 year old Jerry stopped calling. Laura took the initiative and called his friends. They encouraged him to call her again. They began dating again, but when he joined the army he said he would not write to her because she was too young to be tied to one guy. Although he broke her heart, she went on to have a normal high school life. Jerry’s cousin Sharon attended school with Laura. Jerry acquired Laura’s address through Sharon and began writing when she was a senior in high school. Laura was away at Eastern Washington University when Jerry got out of the army. He went to visit her at the college dorm and when she came down the stairs to meet him her first thought was that the army shrunk him because she had grown 3 inches taller since he left!
The two dated briefly until Jerry left for California. While he was away they kept in contact and took up where they left off when he returned. They married September 30, 1965. Together they raised Steven, Michelle and David in Shoreline.
From a very early age Jerry was always an entrepreneur. He and his cousin Reggie began collecting beer bottles in the housing project and sold them to the taverns, sometimes collecting them from one tavern and selling them to another. Jerry and his sister would collect magazines that had been left in the Pullman cars where their father worked and sell them at the Pike Place Market. He also sold newspapers on the street corner. On a few occasions he would be tired and only sell enough to cover the price he paid for them.
In high school Jerry worked as a box boy at Safeway in Georgetown where he made $1.17 an hour. After high school he worked as a shoe salesman. Another job was at a bean packing plant. One of his worst jobs was at Bethlehem Steel, where he took batteries apart and smelted the steel.
Once married, Jerry went to drafting school and was hired at Boeing for a while. He finally decided to go back to the railroad where he had worked off and on for years. He was a switchman and later became a foreman. Jerry was very popular as a foreman because he knew the job very well and his crew was always able to finish early. While working on the railroad at night, he went to Seattle Community College, (where he made the President’s list), during the day to become an electrician. He decided to stay on at the railroad, however, because it paid well and he was very good at his job. Jerry retired from the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad after 35 years of service.
While his children were young, Jerry and his family spent many vacations driving across the country or on a train. They always had to stop at every Historical marker and would often spend the night camping. Fishing, swimming and camping were prominent in their summer plans.
Family and friends were always welcome in Jerry’s home and so were an assortment of animals. He was never without a dog or cat by his side. His generous nature never turned anyone away and you couldn’t be in his presence very long without being offered something to eat. But watch out! His famous soups were always a test to the palate. Jerry used any and all items found in the refrigerator, so family learned quickly to be wary of his offers.
Jerry also liked to set up tables at swap meets. He loved a bargain and would negotiate for items at one site, cleaning or fixing his finds and selling them for a higher price later. Jerry enjoyed scouring garage sales and making deals, while his son Steven sold last week’s treasures at the swap meets on the weekends. “Never sell anything for less than a quarter. If it isn’t worth at least that, it isn’t worth selling.” Good advice for his daughter-in-law having her own garage sale! Later in life he shared an antique store called Rocking Chair Antiques with his friend Gary Loomis in Snohomish, which his Son David ran when Jerry or Gary couldn’t be there.
Being a prankster, Jerry would often steal a piece of a puzzle so that he could be the one to lay the final piece, though he would adamantly deny it! Jerry loved to play chess with his family and friends and was a nearly undefeated expert at the game. He also liked to play cribbage with his co-workers, family and friends. Jerry regularly played cards and board games and his children and grandchildren benefited from this fun.
Jerry knew how to use what he had on hand, making do rather than buying new. He was clever and wise, talented and thrifty. He passed along those values to his children who use their extensive knowledge learned at his side, every day.
Jerry loved and was proud of his family and told them so. A man of few words, he made the ones he said meaningful. He was a hard-working man of integrity, grit and spirit. We all loved and appreciated him and he will be dearly missed.
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