Roy Edward Gaunt
March 19, 2020
On March 6, 2020, Roy Edward Gaunt drew his final breath in Irvine, California and crossed the bar . After years of pulmonary problems, mercifully his lungs functioned adequately until his heart suddenly and unexpectedly stopped while preparing for further treatment at Hoag Hospital. He amazed and inspired hospital personnel and others to the end with his resiliency and his commitment to life even under difficult circumstances.
He was born to Edward Arnold Gaunt and Lulu Ferne Gaunt at Seaside Hospital in Long Beach, California on March 29, 1924. His early years were spent in Cypress, North Hollywood, and Culver City. He greatly enjoyed and was influenced by the rural, agricultural life in Cypress. There he rode horses, deeply loved and spent as much time as possible with his Great Dane Cappy, assisted his mother with the raising of chickens and turkeys and with egg production, milked cows, and helped to grow vegetables and fruits for the family’s sustenance.
After graduation from Alexander Hamilton High School in Los Angeles, where he earned letters in track and basketball, he entered UCLA in 1941 as a 17-year-old to study engineering. His life and future were soon to dramatically change after the attack on Pearl Harbor. He continued at UCLA until December 1942. Thereafter he attended basic training at the recently opened Merchant Marine Cadet Basic School in San Mateo, California. Upon completion of Basic School he began study and training at the newly dedicated Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, New York.
Due to wartime constraints, the academy training program was shortened to 18 months. Consistent with the unique Merchant Marine approach, education involved deployment on merchant ships in war zones. In 1943 Cadet-Midshipman Roy Gaunt spent nearly six months at sea on two deployments. He worked in the engine room of vessel Cape May delivering supplies to New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. By September 1944 he graduated with a commission as an Ensign in the United States Naval Reserve (USNR), a B.S. degree in Marine Engineering, and marine licenses as a 3rd Assistant Engineer for Steam and Diesel vessels.
After graduation from the Academy he went on additional voyages until after the war ended. His engineering education resumed in 1946 at UCLA with his summers spent working on merchant ships. In 1948 he rose to Lieutenant (Junior Grade) in the USNR. In 1949 he transferred to the University of Michigan where he received a B.S. degree in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering in 1950.
Following graduation, he began his career at Westinghouse Corporation working as a consulting and application engineer. Though highly respected by senior technical personnel there and encouraged to receive additional education at an advanced design school, he soon rose into management. He became Marketing Manager of the Heat Transfer Division and then General Manager of the Water Province Department. At Westinghouse he was a project manager for water desalinization and purification plants at locations including Key West, Florida and Point Loma, California.
In 1968 he began employment with the Ralph M. Parsons Corporation in Pasadena, California. His career there principally involved development of gas, nuclear, geothermal, and magnetohydrodynamic electric power generation plants. He rose to Vice President of Power Business Development.
In the final years of his career he became Vice President of the Charles T. Main engineering company (later Parsons Main International) after it was acquired by Parsons. His final projects were cogeneration power plants. With these energy efficient plants heating and cooling are produced in addition to electric power by using waste heat that would otherwise be lost.
His entire career and adult life essentially came full circle at UCLA where as his final work project he led development and construction of the award-winning cogeneration plant that provided power, heating, and cooling for the entire campus . Merchant Marine Cadets were employed to operate it.
Family was first for Roy Gaunt. He married the love of his life Patricia Kathleen Berg in October 1956 after a multi-year courtship. This marriage remained strong until her passing in October 2018. Their union produced Kathleen (Doug and children Steven and Sean) Bell, Elizabeth Miltko (children Adam, Rebekah, and Elijah), Arnold Gaunt, and Janet (Steve) Coover and six great grandchildren. He is survived by his sister Loie Grace Gaunt.
Roy Gaunt had many interests including photography, music (he played violin, clarinet, trumpet, and piano in his early years), flyfishing, and sports. He was active in the Merchant Marine Alumni Association local chapter and UCLA basketball and football athletic booster events. He had season tickets for UCLA football and basketball games for decades and attended his final basketball game at Pauley Pavilion at age 89.
The motto of the Merchant Marines is “Acta Non Verba”, or “deeds not words”. For Roy Gaunt this was not a slogan but consistently a way of life whether in service to his family, community, church, or country. Through this way of life, he was able to instruct and lead others by his example. Under the most difficult and challenging of circumstances, particularly in the final years of his life, he was at his very best. His actions demonstrated the qualities of adaptation and resiliency while he never complained or exhibited self”‘pity concerning his situation.
The magnificent blessing of Roy Edward Gaunt to family, friends, and others will be celebrated and remembered. On March 27th a vigil will be held 7-9 PM at O’Connor Mortuary in Laguna Hills, California. A funeral will be held 11 AM March 28th at Church of the Messiah in Santa Ana, California with reception to follow. Private burial with military honors will be held March 29th. Donations in his honor may be made to the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy Alumni Association and Foundation at https://www.usmmaalumni.com.
- Date & Time: March 28, 2020 (11:00 AM)
- Venue: Episcopal Church Of The Messiah