Lehigh Controller’s Office staff member John Gasdaska passed away earlier this year. A 20-year employee of the university, his colleagues shared these memories.
Julie Tostevin, Financial Analyst: John loved attending Lehigh sporting events. As a child he loved watching the football games from Taylor Stadium. He was an avid runner and ran in the Turkey Trot for several years.
We were taking the auditors from KPMG out to view and verify our inventory one summer. We went up to Iacocca 3 times that day but the instrument was not in the location it was supposed to be at and no one could assist us in locating it. John was able to get someone to provide access to the custodian’s office and he crawled up on a chair, pulled a box off the top of a cabinet above the desk and inside the box was the piece we were looking for. We were able to show the auditor the piece with the LU property tag on it which prevented an audit finding on our financial statements that year.
John was known as the man who walked around campus with his clipboard in his hand but most who saw him did not know the importance of the job he did. John knew all the nooks and crannies on campus to quickly locate the smallest spectrometer, the largest electron microscope as well as all the parts of the large scale earthquake facility up at ATLSS.
John was a gentle giant, a trustworthy colleague and will be greatly missed.
Todd Murray, Associate Controller: It was my first week at Lehigh, and John took my colleague Julie and I on a tour of the University. I was a transplant from Oklahoma, so I had zero familiarity with the campus. I was so envious of his knowledge and his rapport with his colleagues across campus. During the tour, everyone was happy to see him. I was in awe to watch him do his job, converse with the faculty and staff and point out interesting facts. He showed me the first Packard Car!
After checking out the car, we went into the basement of Packard Lab. This was during Pacing Break, so not a lot of students were on campus. But we bumped into a Faculty member and a research student testing the strength of a piece of steel as they applied various stress tests to it. The student was from Paris. Paris! That explains why he wasn't home.
At any rate, John showed me the whole reason why the university is here: research and education, and I was able to see it in action because of him. John showed me what really goes on here and it gave me a new appreciation for being a part of something much bigger than me. I'm forever grateful for that.
His compassion, kindness and consideration I'll forever miss and never forget. He made me feel like a good person. He lived simply and I feel like he figured out the secret to life. I miss him terribly and I wish I had the chance one last time to say my farewell. He's definitely sorely missed.
Dick Towne, Machine Shop: John was a model of patient persistence. The accounting of millions of dollars’ worth of equipment depended on John’s knowledge of accurately identifying thousands of pieces of lehigh owned Equipment. It was inspiring to see John giving respect to his clients, even those who were not respecting of his mission to the university.
Susan Szilagy, Athletics: John was a sports-lover and I always enjoyed talking sports with him on a Monday to recap weekend games. He especially liked talking about the Phillies and Lehigh Sports.
David Joseph, Student Auxiliary Services: I always enjoyed seeing him on campus as he checked on the inventory…he was such a nice man.