James Allen Gatto – February 6, 1935 – March 24, 2013
Son, Husband, Father, Friend, Brother, Uncle and Papa
Born in Tacoma to Pete and Alice Gatto, Jim was the 2nd of 4 children (Lauretta, John and Frank). Jim was educated in the Highline School District, starting with Sunnydale Elementary. He played football while attending Puget Sound Jr. High and Highline High School. At the age of 19, he married Sharon West, and their daughter Esther was born in November, 1955. Jim was drafted into the US Army at the age of 23, serving as a tank mechanic from May 1958 until June 1960. While in the Army, he met and married RuthAnn Kantzer in June of 1959. After his discharge, he returned to his job at Fruehauf Truck and Trailer in Seattle. He was employed as a mechanic, eventually working his way up to foreman. Jim was instrumental in developing the tilt bed trailer.
Jim loved the outdoors – fishing, hunting and mountain climbing (all the major peaks in Washington). His proudest climb was to the top of Mt. Rainer, where he sat and drank the last of his dad's Diego Red homemade wine, and having Jim Whittaker pick out the ice axe he used for the climb. Because of his love of the outdoors, Jim was asked to be scout master for Boy Scout Troop 399, which he did with great enthusiasm for five years. He was a member of the Burien Elks Lodge #2143 for 51 years, during which time he helped install the sign in front of the building on 1st Avenue, where it remains to this day.
In 1962, Jim and RuthAnn built a new house together in Burien, where they lived and raised six children. He always had a garden, growing vegetables for the dinner table, and beautiful roses for all to enjoy. Jim retired from Fruehauf in October of 1986 and they moved to Whidbey Island at Greenbank in 1990. Here he became a gentleman farmer raising a crazy menagerie of farm animals and Polled Hereford cattle. Raising the grandchildren and great-grandchildren on "The Farm" was one of his profound joys.
Jim and the family spent many happy days at the cabin in the Cascade River Park, where he was known as a champion fisherman. Hunting and hiking in the North Cascades was one of his passions. He also enjoyed spending time at the ocean, digging razor clams, hunting, picking blackberries and mushrooms, and fishing on his daughter's charter boat "Blue Eyes".
On Sunday, March 24 while at Providence Hospital in Everett where he was being treated for several ailments related to a life of hard work and play, surrounded by his family, Jim moved on to greener pastures. He is survived by his wife, RuthAnn of nearly 54 years, two brothers-Frank Gatto and John Gatto, seven children; Maurice Pilgrim, Laura Pilgrim Rust (Randy), Esther Palmer(Dwayne), Paula Pilgrim, Steve Gatto(Debi), Anthony Gatto, Kelly Polus(John), 13 grandchildren, 7 great grandchildren, and numerous nieces and nephews.
A luncheon reception to Celebrate his Life will be held on Sunday May 19 at 1:00pm at the Burien Elks Lodge #2143, 14006 1st Avenue South, Burien, WA. Arrangements by Burley Funeral Chapel, Oak Harbor. Family and friends may sign the guestbook at www.burleyfuneralchapel.com.
Memorials may be made to: "Tall Elks" Washington Elks Therapy Program for Children, PO Box 66564, Burien, WA 98166.