John Harrison Gayer passed away quietly Sept. 8, 2008, at Lutheran Exempla Hospital in Wheat Ridge.
John was born Sept. 20, 1919, in Plattsmouth, Neb. He was the eldest child of Capt. Harrison Lafayette Gayer and Helen Humpe Gayer of Papillion. John grew up on Rock Bluff Farm in Plattsmouth.
John attended the University of Nebraska from 1938 to 1941, receiving a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering in 1943. He was in freshman football and wrestling, Corn Cobs, Kosmet Klub, Scabbard & Blade, Alpha Sigma Phi and Alpha Sigma Epsilon. In 1942-43, he received specialized electronic training at Harvard University, MIT, and Camp Murphy, Fla., and in 1947 he received rocket theory training from UCLA.
John was commissioned as a lieutenant in the Army Signal Corps and Air Force from 1942-46 and was an Air Force Reserves officer from 1946-75, retiring as a lieutenant colonel.
John married Dorothy Griswold Gayer, daughter of Gov. Dwight Griswold and Erma Elliott Griswold Bomgardner, in 1942 at the Governor's mansion in Lincoln, Neb. He was sent to Berlin, Germany, from 1947 to 1952 to work with the military government and the U.S. War and State Departments. He was elected vice president and board chairman for Gering National Bank in Gering, Neb. John also worked for the International Telecommunications Union, an agency of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, participating in and organizing telecommunications and radio conferences around the world (1952-65); and was chairman of the IFRB in 1963 and 1965. His many awards include nomination as Fellow and Life Member of Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) and Professional Recognition for the GE Apollo 7 Splashdown Television Project.
John and his family returned to the U.S. in 1966, when he became program manager for General Electric, Space Technology Center in Valley Forge, Penn. In 1971, he returned to the West, moving to Lakewood, where he applied for radio and television licenses in Colorado, Nebraska and California. From 1970 to 1985, John won FCC licenses for KFNF in Iowa, and KAAT, KVMT and KBCR in Colorado - the Steamboat Springs and Vail stations were the first local stations for those communities.
In August 2005, John and his wife Dorothy moved to the Heritage Club, a senior retirement community in Denver.
John is survived by Dorothy, his three children and their families, John Gayer and wife Carol of Albuquerque, N.M.; Diane Gayer and partner Mary Twitchell of Burlington, Vt.; Dwight Gayer and wife Kathy of Steamboat Springs; his four grandchildren, Christina and Andy Campbell of Montana, Jack and Tamyra Gayer of Castle Rock, and Kristopher Gayer and Dano Gayer of Steamboat Springs; and his six great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews. John also is survived by his sister Mary Sortino; brother Bill Gayer; and sister-in-law Jean Gayer.
He was predeceased by his son Michael; sister Bette; and brother-in-law Don Erickson.
A graveside service was held Sept. 13, 2008, at the Oak Hill Cemetery in Plattsmouth. Gifts in John's memory may be sent to Children's Hospital of Aurora or www.TheChildrensHospital.org.