Howard H. Gast

EARLVILLE - Howard H. Gast, 92, a lifelong resident of Earlville, passed away March 7, 2019 at OSF St. Anthony Medical Center in Rockford, the result of injuries sustained in an automobile accident.

Memorial services will be held at noon on Saturday, May 18 at Immanuel Lutheran Church, 415 S. East St., Earlville with Rev. Tammy Anderson officiating. Burial of his urn will follow at Precinct Cemetery, rural Earlville. A celebration of his life will be from 10 a.m. to noon on May 18 at the church. Arrangements were entrusted to Hanley-Turner-Eighner Funeral Home in Earlville.

Howard was born Sept. 21, 1926 in rural Earlville on the family farm. He married Marilyn A. Meinke on Oct. 20, 1945 at Langley Field in Virginia. She preceded him in death in 2007.

Survivors include one son, Mark (Cindi) Gast of Coal Valley; one daughter, Laurie (Joseph) Vitale of Las Vegas, Nev.; one granddaughter, Joanne (Steve) Lenzie of Las Vegas, Nev.; five sisters, Dolores Kaminky of Earlville, Jean (Frank) Holmes of Rockford, Wilma Lee Johnson of North Hatfield, Mass., Karen (Royce) Kreul of Oregon, Wis. and Cynthia (Bob) Kreiser of Mendota; and numerous nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by his parents; his wife; one brother, Harold J. Gast; and two sisters, Dona Mae and Ramona.

After graduating from high school, Howard enlisted in the Army Air Corps during World War II. He was one of the few who was discharged from the Army Air Corps and was reenlisted in the newly formed U.S. Air Force. When he was discharged from the U.S. Air Force, he came home to farm east of Earlville and was a primary individual in the start up of the Clearview Airport on the farm. Clearview Airport invested in three airplanes, all of which crashed. He was known as the pilot who crashed into the second floor of the Weidner house in rural Earlville and lived to tell about it. Over 100 people learned to fly at Clearview Airport. He continued to have a passion for flying, later owning a plane with two friends and flying often. He was a longtime farmer in Earlville and was well known at the Chicago Stockyards, proud of the beef he fed. He was a lifelong member of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Earlville, where he served as president on the church council. He was a member of the Earlville Country Club, the Earlville American Legion, where he was previously commander, was on the LaSalle Veteran’s Home Board, the Earlville Lions Club, and the Illinois Valley Horseman Association, where he enjoyed going on many trail rides.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to the Earlville American Legion, Immanuel Lutheran Church, or the Earlville Historical Society. For more information or to sign the online guest book, go to


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