A Mass of Christian Burial for George H. Gesel, a retired contract administrator, was offered today in St. Gregory the Great Catholic Church, Amherst.
The Williamsville resident, 76, died Tuesday in Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital, Amherst, after a long illness.
Born in Buffalo, he moved as a child with his family to a Lancaster farm now known as Wiemer's Grove, where, for 53 years, a family reunion was held on the Fourth of July.
He graduated from Canisius High School and attended Canisius College and the University of Buffalo.
Mr. Gesel suspended his college studies to join the Air Force, where he became a fighter pilot and served during both the Korean and Vietnam wars.
He retired as a major after 20 years and, through military contacts, became a contracts administrator at Bell Aerospace Co.
His greatest achievements included the $17 million sale of Bell Hovercrafts to the Navy. Distinguished by a huge rear propeller and landing tanks, the Hovercraft still can be seen in action movies.
His part-time work as an Air Force Reserve officer kept the family on the move, but in 1977 he and the former Dorothy Hendricks, whom he met at Bell, settled with their children in Williamsville. From then until his retirement in 1992, he worked as contract administration manager at Sierra Research Corp.
In addition to his wife, survivors include a daughter, Jeanne Conklin of Amherst; five sons, James and Douglas, both of Amherst, Gregory of Charlotte, N.C., Stephen of Binghamton and Kenneth of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; a sister, Pearl Toellner of Buffalo; a brother, James of Akron; and 13 grandchildren.