Gary Nathaniel Haster

Gary Nathaniel Haster

Gary Nathaniel Haster

Cedar Rapids

On Dec. 2, 2023, Gary Nathaniel Haster reached his lifelong goal: he entered into heaven and met his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ and his younger brother, Johnnie. Visitation will be from 9:00 – 11:00 am, Saturday, April 27, 2024, at Brosh Chapel and The Avacentre in Cedar Rapids, located at 2121 Bowling Street SW. A Celebration of Life Service will begin at 11 a.m. Saturday with military honors to follow.

Gary was born Aug. 27, 1941, at Mercy Hospital in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, the son of Frank J. Haster and Mary M. Haster (Smrchek). He graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School in Cedar Rapids, in the class of 1960. He served with the United States Navy on the USS Buchanan (DDG-14), a guided missile destroyer from 1960-1964.

Gary loved surprises, his most successful one was when he proposed to Mary. He asked her to marry him, and when she said yes, he went on to tell her that he and her mother already had planned everything out. The date was picked, the church and the two preachers were already set. He already had the engagement announcement ready to be in the Gazette the next day. He and Mary Rae Vavra were married Aug. 8, 1970, at First Presbyterian Church near Ely, Iowa.

In 1971, Gary and Mary moved to McPherson, Kansas where he graduated from McPherson College in 1974 with a Bachelor of Arts degree, having majored in Sociology and Psychology.

The day after graduation, they moved back to Cedar Rapids and immediately left with good friends Dean and Betty Nezerka for 6 weeks, traveling through Europe. After returning to Cedar Rapids, Gary returned to Collins Radio and eventually started his career at Job Service of Iowa. Helping people was Gary’s calling in life. He was not a missionary in a foreign country, but he was willing to help anyone, anytime, anywhere; spiritually and physically. At Job Service he was a Veteran’s Representative, working mostly with Vietnam Era Veterans like himself. He would find them jobs first, then would help with whatever other needs they had. It was not unusual that he would be stopped in the middle of a store or in a parking lot by former clients who wanted to say hello and thank him for finding them employment and bettering their lives with his always positive attitude. It happened so often that the kids believed everyone in town knew their dad.

Gary loved being a dad. He had his camera at all the kids’ events and was always collecting rocks and birds’ nests on walks in the woods. He and Nathan enjoyed computers, sports and building pine wood derby cars. He and Mandy drew pictures and collected books. Both kids really believed that the car would not start until the seat belts were buckled. When grandchildren came along, he was a fun Deda. He took Audrey and Grant for walks in the park, they threw frisbees, flew kites and they tried to learn to throw his many boomerangs. Sometimes they would actually come back.

Gary was also an entrepreneur. He had several multi-level businesses, and his photography business led him to set up a dark room in every house we lived in. He was never without his camera or his Bible.

He called himself a “good finder”. He would compliment a stranger, hold a door open, wave as he went by, purposely trying to make someone else feel good. He would challenge us all to make someone happy by being a “good finder”.

The most important thing to Gary was to tell as many people as he could how they could have a relationship with Jesus Christ. He would also speak about how to find a good Bible Study and a Church home.

Gary is survived by his wife Mary; Children Mandy (Cal) Vaughn and Nathan (Miranda Harris) Haster; grandchildren Audrey and Grant Vaughn; siblings Joan Klinger, Mary Ann Myer, Linda Haster, and Rebecca Haster; brother-in-law Chuck Vavra; as well as many nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, and cousins.

He was preceded in death by his parents; His mother and father-in-law, Irene and Charles Vavra; brothers Johnnie and David; and his brothers-in-law Don Klinger and Clyde Myer.

Memorials may be directed to local bible teaching churches, the Ely American Legion, local veteran’s organizations and non-profits, or to small business organizations.

The family would like to thank Dr. Cearlock, Meadow View Memory Care and St. Croix Hospice for their care of Gary.

Online condolences may be left for the family at

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