Daniel Hunter Gatz passed away peacefully on Oct. 29, 2023 with his daughters by his side. He was 84.
He was born on April 2, 1939 to Philip Arno Gatz and Ruth Linscott Gatz. He was raised in Auburn and spent summers in Jefferson on his family’s property known as “the farm.”
An excellent athlete and fierce competitor, Dan was a football tight end and threw the javelin at Edward Little High School, but his true love was skiing. As a member of the ski team he competed in downhill, slalom, cross country, and jumping. During his senior year, Dan was an integral part of his ski team’s undefeated season and he went to the Junior Nationals in Squaw Valley, Calif. While at the University of Maine Dan continued to ski race. During his sophomore year their team was ranked sixth in the country, earning them a trip to the NCAAs.
Dan married the love of his life, Sharon Haddock, and they settled in Auburn where they raised their four daughters: Gretchen, Julie, Kristin, and Heidi. They were devoted to each other and their girls, supporting and encouraging them in all their activities and interests. Dan and Sharon shared 30 wonderful years together before her death from cancer in 1987.
In 1973, Dan and partner Tom Lahey started Sprinkler System Inc. in Lewiston. With two employees and borrowed shop space, they grew the business, relocating to Spring Street and then in 1980 to 2 Avon St. where the company remains today. Dan retired in 2007.
Dan fulfilled a lifelong dream of becoming a pilot and flew all around the state for work and chauffeured family and friends around New England. In his beloved Bonanza he made trips to Florida, to the Oshkosh Fly-In, and a bucket list trip to Alaska.
Especially close to his grandchildren, Dan taught all of them to ski. While his daughters started in the backyard, the grandkids could be spotted at Sugarloaf following “Papa,” turn for turn, down the Flume, his favorite trail. Dan was passionate about golf and would take every opportunity to play. As the grandchildren took up the game it was a bonus for him. Though it didn’t take long for the young golfers to out drive him, Papa’s putting would keep him in the game.
Dan was in his element on the farm where he embraced the rhythm of the seasons. He delighted in watching crops grow and, in his heyday, planted enough strawberries and corn to feed the whole neighborhood. He made maple syrup, worked in the woods, and processed his own firewood. The family was his ready work force and he passed along his knowledge as he prepared them to become the next stewards.
Dan lived a full and active life. He will be remembered for his can do spirit, his enjoyment of sport, his generosity, and his love of family.
Besides his parents and wife, Dan was predeceased by his brother, Jonathan. Dan is survived by his four daughters, Gretchen Roy (Bob), Julie Gatz, Kristin Kannegieser (Marc), and Heidi Weeks (Bud); his six grandchildren, Kevin and John Keogh, Benjamin Roy (Makayla), Isabel and Will Kannegieser, and Ruth Weeks; his brother, Philip Gatz (Donna); his longtime companion, Doris Lahey; his nephews; and several cousins.
A private family celebration will take place at the farm.
Online condolences and sharing of memories may be expressed at lynchbrothers.com.
If they wish, family and friends are invited to donate in Dan’s memory to Sugarloaf Ski Club – King’s Kids Endowment, 900 Main St., Carrabassett Valley, ME 04947 or the Midcoast Conservancy – Damariscotta Lake, P.O. Box 439, Edgecomb, ME 04556.