Gerald Pless of Titusville, FL, passed away in the early hours of April 15, 2019, in the home of his son David and Kendra Pless, also of Titusville.
Born in 1939 in Gordo, AL, he was the final child born to Rev. David C. and Tyra Gunn Pless of Alabama. His father was a minister in the North Alabama Methodist Conference. Gerald is survived by his wife Cynthia, son David/wife Kendra Pless and daughter Dr. Kelly/husband Ricky Araujo of Virginia; eight grandchildren, Alexandra Pless, Kaitlin Pless, Jeremy Pless, Nathan Pless, Zachary Pless, Evan Araujo, and Oliver Araujo; two brothers, James/wife Diane Pless of Goodrich, MI, and William/wife Yvonne Pless of Jasper, GA; and sixteen nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his father David and mother Tyra; five sisters, Mildred Patterson of Meridianville, AL, Marilyn Popejoy of New Market, AL, Maeceille Beem of Huntsville, AL, Alice Brasher Davis of Huntsville, AL, Virginia Stamps of Huntsville, AL; three brothers, Maynard Pless of Huntsville, AL, George Pless of Glendale, AZ, and Daniel Pless of Calera, AL; one niece, Faye Patterson Mason of Tullahoma, TN, and one nephew, Johnny Brasher of Birmingham, AL.
Gerald retired from a 24-year career as a quality control chemist with an aerospace company based at Kennedy Space Center (KSC), FL, in 2011 and continued to live with his wife in Titusville. Gerald received a BS degree in Chemistry from Auburn University ca 1967 after also attending Flint (Michigan) Junior College (while working in the Chevrolet factory), Birmingham Southern University, and the University of Alabama on various work/study programs. He also taught undergraduate courses at Jefferson State Junior College and tutored prisoners in the Jefferson county Correctional System in Birmingham, AL. He began his professional career with US Steel in Birmingham, then as Metallurgical Analyst Supervisor at Georgetown Steel Corporation in Georgetown, SC, then worked ten years at Lockheed in Marietta, GA, as a Quality Control supervisor before joining the Lockheed Space Operations Company at KSC as a Corrective Action Senior Engineer in 1987.
Gerald had many talents and interests, including music, singing and playing the piano. He wrote many poems about the meaning of things in his life. More recently, he wrote “My Journey Through Space and Time”, a book concerning his work and contributions in support of the Space Shuttle program at KSC. This book, written in collaboration with brothers James and William, also contains his poems and many personal reflections.
Gerald was a good and selfless man always thinking of others. He would never hurt any person or animal and loved cat and dog pets. In life, he had to overcome many personal challenges. He never ran away from difficult situations, but faced them head on with personal faith and determination to succeed in the most positive way to prevent them from harming others.
David reflected on his father, "Dad was the most loving, caring person I have ever known and had the most wonderful sense of humor. He was poetic and saw deep spiritual meaning in nature and art. He would often remark on music, paintings, statues and more with insights most others would miss.
Dad knew how to bring people together, he strove for peace and harmony and gave every bit of himself as a caregiver to his wife, whom he loved so very much.
My dad loved to fish, he deeply loved the sea, he loved the mountains, dad loved the country life and its golden fields, he loved the plains of Auburn and the city of Huntsville, Alabama; his true home.
My dad was the youngest of eleven. The proud son of an Alabama Methodist minister whose bond with his brothers and sisters couldn't have been stronger. He was very proud of the military service of all his siblings.
My father leaves us with a beautiful example of how to be a great son, father, and brother. He gave so much and asked so little. He never complained about anything but spent every bit of himself looking after others while ignoring his own needs. Dad gifted us with beautiful poetry, stories, and his music. His words and the example he left us – will live on with the family forever."
Kelly sums it this way: “My father is loved by so many, because he was gentle, kind, and pleasantly unpredictable. Over the years my brother and I came to realize that he was not consistent in how he expressed himself to us. He would tell my brother one thing, in one way, and provide a different version to me. I used to think of my father as irresolute. Now I realize that he was inclined to bend to others' spirit. My fondest memories most impactful upon my world view are of him stopping to notice the beauty of nature. He would bring my attention to the sunsets and note the beauty. No sunset will ever be like the others. Each one is special. He would say, ‘This is where you find God. It's all around us, and within us. You just have to look.’ Not a day goes by that I do not notice a sunrise or sunset or how the clouds streak across the sky. This is such a gift, and he tailored it to me. He knew me. In his final days I repeated the following and each time he would squeeze my hand and seemed to hum: ‘Where I go, you go. Where I am, you are. I will find you in the sunsets. We are never alone.’ I am so grateful, so blessed.”
The family desires that, rather than sending flowers, you make a donation to the Shriners Hospital for Children.