MILFORD – Robert D. Gastia, 79, died peacefully surrounded by family and enveloped in love July 5, 2013, after a long struggle of kidney failure in his home. He was born June 8, 1934, in Old Town, the third youngest son of A. Joseph and Ozilda “Ida (Michaud) Gastia.
At the early age of 14, he began working for James W. Sewall Co. mapping “cuttings in the woods” until 21. Bobby was drafted in the Army in November 1956 at 22, and received basic and advanced training at Fort Hood in Texas. He was shipped out of Brooklyn Army Terminal aboard the “Darby” troop ship to Europe. While in Europe, he became a Browning automatic rifleman expert and was a member of the all-Army team. This involved open-sight shots at up to 1000 yards and traveling to other European countries, including England. Bobby served in the same unit as Elvis Presley and remembered Elvis as approachable and friendly, and stated that Elvis wasn’t afforded any special treatment. Bobby was discharged in November 1958 and remained in the Army Reserves until 1962. He was employed at the Penobscot Chemical Fiber mill from 1959 until his retirement in 1996, from then known as James River Mill after 37 years of service. The first 1 1/2 years he was employed at the mill he did odd jobs, construction and unloading of rail cars. He soon moved to the boiler room and became a boiler engineer, and obtaining his boiler operator’s license was one of his greatest accomplishments. He worked in this position for most of his career. Bobby had a great passion for the outdoors and loved gardening, hunting, fishing, and he loved to tell many stories about his hunting and fishing ventures throughout the years.
He is survived by his wife, Barbara (Abbott); son, Kevin Gastia and wife, Crystal; special nephew, Ron Gastia and wife, Sherri; special niece, Brenda Arnall and husband, Bob; special nephew and his namesake, Robert Gastia and wife, Lynn; most beloved grandchildren whom he was very proud of, Brandon, Daniel and Mckayla Gastia; sister-in-law, Betty Gastia; brother-in-law, Tim Lynch; former sister-in-law, Doris Haley; and many other extended family members. He was predeceased by his parents; brothers, Norman and Kenneth; baby sister, Jeanne Lynch; and lifelong friends, Popeye and Francena Denny.
A Mass of Christian burial will be celebrated 9 a.m. Saturday, July 20, at Parish of the Resurrection, Holy Family Church, Old Town. Burial will be at Milford Cemetery. All are invited to return to the parish center for alight luncheon and continued fellowship. Memorial contributions may be made to New Hope Hospice, 1344 Main Road, Eddington, ME 04428 or visit www.newhopehospice.org. New Hope Hospice provided tremendous care and support to Robert and the entire family. Notes of condolence may be left at www.birminghamfuneralhome.com.