Dr. Robert M. Gesler of Ahwatukee Foothills passed away April 30, 2010, in Denver surrounded by his loving family.
Born Oct. 26, 1926, in Evanston, Ill., Gesler spent his youth in Aurora, Ill. He joined the Navy in March 1944, retiring as a lieutenant in 1966 after several years of active and inactive reserve duty. He graduated in 1947 from the University of New Mexico. Gesler was a lifelong member of the Sigma Chi fraternity and was admitted to the Phi Kappa Phi honorary fraternity. In 1950 and 1952, respectively, he received his master’s and doctorate degrees from Northwestern University.
In September 1947, he married Evelyn Wilma Mellard of Hope, N.M., after falling in love "at first sight of her" at a Sigma Chi fraternity party. He and Wilma raised five sons. During their 51 years of marriage, they lived in Aurora and Chicago, Ill.; Washington, DC; East Riverdale, N.J.; Albany and Elsmere, N.Y.; Libertyville and Deerfield, Ill.; Albuquerque, N.M.; and Ahwatukee Foothills.
Gesler worked as a research pharmacologist at Sterling Winthrop Research Institute in Rensselaer, N.Y., and at Baxter Laboratories in Morton Grove, Ill., as head of the Pharmacology Department. In 1972 he retired from the pharmaceutical industry and realized a lifetime dream of returning to Albuquerque where he built and managed two family-oriented swim and tennis clubs, two sports he believed were lifelong activities.
Gesler, an avid tennis player and skier, played in many United States Tennis Association-sanctioned tennis tournaments in the Southwest and was training to become a member of the Sandia Peak ski patrol when hip replacement surgery ended that adventure.
He moved to Ahwatukee Foothills in 1992 where he started the Table Tennis Club at the Ahwatukee Recreation Center. He was also active in the ceramics club, served for four years as the ARC Woodworking Club president and was volunteer manager of the ARC gift shop. Gesler loved wearing his purple navigator’s jacket as a volunteer at Sky Harbor airport for more than six years.
Gesler was preceded in death by the love of his life, Wilma, in 1998; his mother, Marie Gesler, in 1998, one month after her 100th birthday; his father, Wendell Gesler, in the fall of 1946; and his grandson, Adam Gesler, in 2003. He is survived by his sister, Marion White, of Canton, Conn.; five "fine" sons, James of Wooster, Ohio, Robert of Dallas, Peter of Mesa, Thomas of Simi Valley, Calif., and David of Denver and their wives Lana, Valinda, Gwen, Kim and Amy, 11 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
A marvelous father, grandfather and great-grandfather, his family loved and admired him greatly. Gesler felt he was blessed to have had so many years of great family, great friends and great health.
A memorial service will begin at 2 p.m. Saturday, May 29, at the Lakeshore Mortuary, 1815 S. Dobson Road, Mesa.