Thomas R. Gundlach, Sr., 75, of Jaffrey, passed away on August 21, 2018 due to complications from pneumonia and an extended illness at Monadnock Community Hospital in Peterborough. Thomas was born on March 17, 1943 in Syracuse, NY to Robert E. Gundlach, Jr. and BettyJane Corbett Gundlach.
Thomas lost his father in 1953 in a traumatic accident while they were living in Florida. He was only 10 years old. He told his grieving mother that she needn’t worry about money because he “would get a paper route”. And he did, delivering daily and Sunday papers all over his neighborhood and into the city. Thomas was a man of his word always! Thomas’s mother remarried a couple of years later and Thomas became very close to his Step-Dad Richard.
Thomas grew up in Syracuse and attended local elementary schools, graduating in 1961 from Eastwood High School. He worked every summer to help finance his college education. Thomas said,” When I graduated from high school, I was certain of my values which came to college with me. These include appreciation, consideration, desire, and loyalty. I have learned to appreciate beauty; the beauty of a poem, a landscape, an inspirational sermon. One value is my great love of learning. I greatly enjoy reading books by renowned authors, listening to fine music by the worlds’ great masters, and increasing my storehouse of wisdom. Other values are my love for my country, willingness to work and do better and a great desire to help others. I appreciate my parents and all that they do for me.”
In 1965 he graduated from the State University of New York at Oswego with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Elementary and Secondary Education. While at Oswego, Thomas was a Resident Advisor and founded the “Sons of the Wilted Wallet”. He created questions for his peers for a college-bowl type of competition.
On August 15, 1964, he married Barbara Hoffman and they moved the following year to Winchendon, Mass. where they raised three sons. Always a man ahead of his times, in the 1970s, his interest turned to homesteading on his “Lower Mowin’ farm where he built his own house. He raised numerous animals for food, planted vegetables to can for winter, gathered and sold eggs from his chickens, froze lambchops from his sheep and cured their hides, made the best maple syrup ever, felled, cut, split, and stacked cordwood for heating, and loved to ride his horse Apache in pine eden. One of his many joys was hosting a pig roast for his friends and colleagues with hornpout appetizers.
In 1965, Thomas became a seventh grade teacher at Oakmont Regional High School in the Ashburnham-Westminster Regional School District in Ashburnham, MA where he taught for 30 years. While at Oakmont, Thomas coached the school’s JV baseball team, girls basketball team, and was cheerleading coach. He was President of the teacher’s union and received the Teacher of the Year award from the school. When the district opened the Overlook Middle School in 1995, Thomas became its Principal and remained so for seven years. His motto for the school was “At Overlook, anything is possible”. His enthusiasm and optimism was infectious with the staff, teachers, and students. He was the school’s cheerleader always. Tom always said that his years at Overlook were the best of his career. He even went back to school himself at Fitchburg State University to pursue a degree in school administration. Overall, he served the Ashburnham-Westminster Regional School District for 37 years before retiring in 2002.
On July 5, 1980, Thomas married his second wife and best friend, Gwendolyn Wilson Gundlach, an eighth grade English teacher whom he met at Oakmont High School. Gwendolyn taught at Oakmont and Overlook Middle School for 32 years and Thomas was her Principal. They were married for 38 years and were inseparable, always together, at work, at home, and at play. Thomas and Gwendolyn moved to Jaffrey, NH in 1985 and the following year had their son, Andrew. One of Thomas’s best memories was the cross-country trip to the Rockies, Yellowstone, Jackson Hole, and the Badlands that they took in 2008 for Andrew’s college graduation present.
Retiring in 2002, Thomas became immersed in volunteering in his community of Jaffrey: driving for the Red Cross, picking up food for the Jaffrey Food Pantry, giving out Thanksgiving baskets at the food pantry, and volunteering in numerous capacities at his church, The First Church in Jaffrey, where he was a Trustee, Investment Committee member, a reader during worship services, a helper with buildings and grounds, and the chairman of the annual church fair. Thomas was the organizer and director of the Monadnock Area Crop Hunger Walk for 14 years, which raised money for seven local food pantries.
Thomas was an avid fisherman, particularly fly-fishing. He even designed and tied his own flies, creating the “Gundlach Special” which was a sure winner! He loved fishing at Moosehead Lake in Greenville, Maine with his fishing buddies, Willard Pond, Lake Nubanusit, Dublin Lake, Gilmore Pond, Stone Pond, and Comet Pond as well as fishing the ocean waters for tuna, stripers, and flounder off Cape Cod with his best fishing buddy, Bob Weeks. Thomas was awarded a pin in 2010 from Massachusetts for a record 4 lb. landlocked salmon that he caught at the Quabbin Reservoir. In his earlier years he went hunting, having been taught by his Uncle Bruce Corbett. Friends were very important to Thomas. He lived by the golden rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” He made and retained his friendships. Thomas loved watching the Patriots, the Red Sox, and more recently World Cup Soccer. He was an avid collector of baseball cards and baseball players’ and other notable individuals’ autographs. He also enjoyed collecting coins, particularly Morgan Silver Dollars. A little known fact was that he used to play the accordion and he was quite adept at bowling.
Thomas had set goals in life-to live a happy, comfortable life with the woman he loved; he loved to write stories and poems; he loved moments of solitude and being alone with his thoughts. He just loved being outdoors, in any weather. He loved walking at night, observing the starry sky, watching for Perseid meteors and shooting stars. An avid follower of the world news and weather, he loved a good snowstorm! Thomas was a thinker, a doer, a helper, and a great listener. He was full of spunk and his sense of humor and wit would make one laugh out loud! He was the best father to his four sons.
Thomas was predeceased by his parents, Robert E. Gundlach, Jr., BettyJane Corbett Gundlach, Richard J. Gundlach, and his paternal and maternal grandparents. He is survived by his beloved wife and best friend for 38 years, Gwendolyn W. Gundlach of Jaffrey, NH; his four sons, Richard G. Gundlach of Rochester, NY, Thomas R. Gundlach, Jr. (Mona Seno) of Northfield, MA, Matthew A. Gundlach (Kristy ) of Pittsfield, MA, Andrew C. Gundlach (Molly) of West Barnstable, MA; two granddaughters, Addison P. Gundlach and Anneli E. Gundlach of West Barnstable, MA; two grandsons, Aaron P. Gundlach and Brandon M. Gundlach of Pittsfield, MA; a great-granddaughter Maya J. Gundlach of Pittsfield, MA, and his younger brother Gary E. Gundlach of Syracuse, NY.
A Memorial Service will be held on Saturday, September 15 at 2:00 PM at The First Church in Jaffrey, 14 Laban Ainsworth Way, Jaffrey, NH. with a reception to follow in the Parish House. Reverend Shayna Appel is officiating. Burial will be private.
The family extends their heartfelt gratitude to all the nurses and doctors at Monadnock Community Hospital for their gentle and solicitous care during Thomas’s illness. Donations may be made in Thomas’s name to The First Church in Jaffrey, P. O. Box 673, Jaffrey, NH 03452 or to the Jaffrey Food Pantry, 54 Main Street, Jaffrey, NH 03452.