gary w.zastrow
Brockport: Friday, February 17, 2012 at age 61, after a courageous battle with cancer, Gary went to be with his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. He is predeceased by his father Gerald Zastrow. He is survived by his wife Renee (LaBarr) Zastrow, sons David (Kathleen), Joel (Christine), daughters Erika Payne (Jonathan) and Shelly Rosario (Johnathan), grandchildren Anthony, Julia, Maggie, and Leah Zastrow and Silas, Mercy, and Eden Payne. Gary worked for Star Markets, Ryan's Big M and most recently Holley Schools as an instructional aide. He was cubmaster for Pack 86, coached baseball and softball, and was the Jolly Goodfellow at Strong Museum. He also played Santa Claus for so many families. He was a die-hard Boston Red Sox fan. His passion was his family and he had the gift of loving and reaching out to children, at one time in the Big Brother program. Gary touched the lives of so many people and will be sadly missed by all who knew him. No prior calling. A celebration of Gary's life will be held Monday at 11 am at Free Methodist Church, 6787 Fourth Section Road in Brockport. Private Interment, Lakeview Cemetery. In lieu of flowers donations may be made to the Holley Central Schools. For more information or to sign Gary's guestbook, please visit

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  1. A card we read lately says it best – The world will never be the same because of the beautiful difference one life has made. Gary, your smiling personality will be missed and fondly remembered. Regards to you all and special thoughts of Fran.

  2. A gentle giant…from our years with the nuns at Nativity through graduation from Brockport High
    School. Always a kind word, huge smile and big laugh. Rest in peace old friend. My sympathies to Renee, their children and grandchildren, Gary’s mother and his siblings.

  3. Always a pleasure to talk to Gary…An honor to have known him. One day we shall share Heaven and Christ’s presence.

  4. As the Jolly Good Fellow, Gary delighted hundreds of children every December inlcuding my own children. My daughter was lucky enough to pose with the Jolly Good Fellow in a photo shoot for the National Museum of Play. We cherish the image and memories. Our thoughts are with Gary’s family.

  5. Dear Anne and Family.

    I was sorry to hear about your brothers passing. Just wanted to let you know you are in my thoughts and prayers. God bless Kathy DeRosa

  6. Dear Renee and Family,
    My thoughts and prayers go out to you and your family as you say good=bye to your beloved Gary. His passion for life and giving to others will long be remembered in the Brockport Community. May the days ahead be filled with all the wonderful moments and memories that you shared as a family.
    May God watch over you all. Leslie

  7. Dear Renee and Family: I am so saddened to hear of your loss. It is a privilege to have known Gary. I believe that he has left his fingerprints of caring on many hearts, and showed the world what it means to live a life of love. God Bless.

    Love, Nancy

  8. Dear Renee, I’m so sorry to hear of Gary’s passing. I will always be grateful for the caring & kindness he showed my son, Jason, as his Big Brother & his baseball coach. We were very fortunate to have him in our lives, and I’ll always be thankful for everything he did for us. Thank you for sharing him! All of you are in my thoughts & prayers . . . .

  9. Dear Renee,
    So horribly sorry to hear about Gary. I frequently remember all the great times we had in Pack 86. Especially the leader parties.The youth of our community were very blessed to have you and Gary in their lives. You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers.

  10. Dear Renee,
    We are very sorry to hear about Gary’s passing. He will always be remembered as someone who lived to help others, especially children. We are grateful for the chance to have known him and for his friendship when our children were growing up.
    Thinking of you and your family with our sincere sympathy.

  11. Everyone associated with The Strong’s National Musuem of Play extends sincere condolences to Gary’s family. Gary touched many lives in many ways, and none of us will ever know the full impact he had on children and families as he portrayed The Jolly Good Fellow at The Strong. He represented the true spirit of Christmas and had an unparalled ability to make each child with whom he spoke feel special and joyful.Gary WAS the Jolly Good Fellow.

  12. Gary was an amazing man with an even more amazing smile. I met Gary about a year ago at discovery church. I had been looking for a church to call home but couldn’t find one and was on the verge of giving up. Gary and his wife Renee made me feel welcome and apart of the Discovery Church Family. I can never thank Gary enough, he brought me back to Christ. See you later Gary!

  13. Gary, I have so many beautiful memories of you. You were as much a part of our Girl Scout troop as any of us, and your constant support and love meant so much. Watching you coach baseball while working the concession stand was always a pleasure. And best of all, you made the most wonderful Santa at our Christmas plays! You’ll be sorely missed, but our memories will keep you with us forever.

    Renee, Shelly, Erica, David and Joel – My thoughts and prayers are with you all.

  14. Gary, I only knew you a short time, but i will never forget coaching the softball teams with you.And also the way you loved the game.I will miss you,and your Santa Claus Suit! R.I.P Buddy!

  15. Gary, you will be missed by so many. We are so thankful to you as Pam’s surrogate ‘dad’ on the many occasions she spend with you and the Zastrow family. You are truly one of a kind. We love you and will cherish our memories.

  16. Hello Joel, Chris, Julia, Maggie, Leah and family,
    Please know how very sorry we are. You are continually in our thoughts. We did not know your Dad Joel, but, knowing you, your Dad’s upbringing shines through.
    Barbara and Ron Brown

  17. How very sad we were to hear of such a great loss. How very lucky we were to have such a great man as our coach and friend. Renee and family, please know your have our love, thoughts and prayers.

  18. I am deeply sorry for your losses. This man was one of the most incredible people I have ever met. He was insirational, loving, paitent and kind. He had faith in me that I would grow in to someone with a great future and as hard as I have worked so far I hope he is right. He has been in my mind everyday pushing me to do better. I’m so sorry to his family losing a person that you love is very hard but losing someone this special is the worst. You are in my prayers.

  19. I met Gary of all places through the want ads shopping for a Santa. For the past several years he was my best gift to my princesses and touched all our hearts in such a special way. I remember one Christmas Eve I had a friend over who was battling cancer and I told Gary she would be here. He brought her a special angel beanie baby which made her last Christmas so special. Just as he so brightened our lives, I will look for that special bright star in the skies. My heart felt condolences to Gary’s family.

  20. I never saw Gary without a smile on his face. He was a special man who touched everyone’s lives.
    We are all going to miss him very much. Softball will never be the same!!
    I used to get a kick out of him, watching the girls play softball and seeing him light up. He always had a grin from ear to ear, even when he was shaking his head.
    Gary fought a long hard battle and is now pain free and whole once more.
    I am a better person for having known him. We all are!! This is not goodbye, it’s see you later GARY!
    Love, Larry, Janine, Felicia and Taramarie Kraatz

  21. I was so sad to hear of Gary’s passing. I do so fondly remember all the many great things he did for softball in Brockport. My daughters each had him for a coach and I have to say that I have so many wonderful memories of that time years ago and how he was so giving of his time to the girls. We’ve lost a good person.
    May your happy memories of him help you through this difficult time.
    Judie Preuss

  22. I worked with Gary for several years at the old Chili Paul Star Market in the early 1980s. He was such a wonderful, fun, loving person. Over the years I would occasionally think back to those times and remember Gary and his huge smile. To this day I have not worked with anybody that was as much fun to be around as Gary. He was always in an upbeat mood. Renee and family, I am so sorry for your loss. I am sure he will be greatly missed by all who loved him.

  23. It is a sad day here at Westfall Surgery to learn that Gary has passed away. Gary came into our lives 8 years ago. We were looking for someone to play Santa Clause at our Childrens Christmas party and his daughter -in -law Chris was working here and gave us his name.
    The years we have shared with Gary here at Westfall will never be forgotten by the staff or the children’s lives he has touched. Gary was so compassionate about what he did. He made Christmas come alive and made children look forward to seeing him again the next year. Gary could get any child to come next to him with his dynamic personality. It may take a few hours but they always got close to him by the end of the party.
    We will remember his smile, his humor, his string of bells and his candy canes.
    Our prayers go out to his family and we here at Westfall Surgery want you to know that all of our lives including our childrens, grandchildrens, nieces and nephews are richer having known Gary Zastro our beloved friend and ‘Santa’
    Thank you Chris and Joel for bring Gary to us.
    The Staff of Westfall Surgery

  24. My brother in law was very courageous battling this horrible disease. He fought each and every day, surviving almost 5 years through this all. His wife, my sister , were blessed to have shared more then 40 years together. Gary will be deeply missed by many people! I pray that God will give my sister and her family all the strength they need to get through this hardship. WE LOVE ALL OF YOU!


  25. My deepest sympathy to all of the Zastrow family. I remember working with Gary at The Big M, he always had a smile on his face and a kind work to say. He was always very upbeat. Love to you all.

  26. My heart is broken for another lost member of our family. May peace be to all his relatives since we know he is in a better place.

  27. My most sincere condolences to Gary’s family. Gary was my son’s little league coach for several years. He had the patience of a saint and was just a wonderful, wonderful person. Always with a smile on his face and a kind word for everyone. He will be truly missed. This world desperately needs more people like him. Cherish the memories and know that he was a man who was highly respected and loved by many.

  28. My mother (age 90) was saddened to see Gary’s obit. She used to be a regular at Ryan’s and she always found Gary SO helpful. She enjoyed talking to him. I did not know Gary myself, but went to school with Donna Zastrow (BHS, class of ’66). Don’t know if Donna is related. At any rate, my mother and I would like to extend our deepest sympathy for your loss. Elisabeth and Brigitte Groth

  29. My name is Tom Lawlor. I was a childhood friend of Gary’s. We went through school together. Gary and his whole family were very kind to my family when my father died over 40 years ago. I’ve seen him infrequently over the last few years, but will never forget the great smile he always had.
    My condolences to the family. Gary will be missed.

  30. My thoughts and prayers truly go out to Gary’s family right now. I was blessed to have met him almost fifteen years ago, when I was only 18 years old coaching an oppossing softball team. He was truly one of the most upstanding people I had ever met. While coaching his own team he still always took time to give me pointers, and advice. I do not think that he ever knew what that actually meant to me, or how much of him I ended up emulating over the years. He truly was a person with so much integrity, and I truly believe that I was made a little better of a person just through my brief summer interaction with him.

  31. One of my fondest growing-up memories: Playing ‘500’ and ‘Hit-the-Bat’ behind the family homestead on the Ridge with Gary and Steve.

  32. Our deepest sympathies to the Zastrow family during this difficult time. Gary will be greatly missed. He was in the top 1% of human beings on earth. He touched many people of all ages through his numerous activities with kids in the community and his outgoing personality.

  33. Our hearts and full and we send loving friendship hugs to Gary’s family and all the friends who are feeling his loss. Such bright stars shine forever!

  34. Outstanding of best coaches ever…love people…always had something good to say about everything (except the Yankees, of course)…God and heaven are fortunate to have Gary…I hope they know how much we will miss him…I feel blessed to have known him.

  35. Please know my thoughts and prayers are with all of you. I have such fond memories of Gary and his generous spirit. I don’t ever remember seeing Gary when he wasn’t smilng:)
    Go Sox.

  36. Renee and family so very sorry for your loss. We’ve known you and Gary since 87 when we first moved to Brockport. Both our boys Eden and Michael were in Pack 86. I was a Den Mother. The boys also played baseball. My husband was a coach. My husband Eden and I worked at Ryan’s Big M for a time too. Later on when our children had grown up and moved on I would always get the update on how the kids and you were doing when I shopped at BigM. He just loved talking about his kids. So very proud. Always had a smile and a kind word. I imagine that there aren’t too many people in our community that haven’t been touched in one way or the other by Gary’s goodwill and generosity.He’s a beautiful soul.

  37. Renee and family, our thoughts and prayers are with you in your time of sorrow. Gary will be deeply missed as he was one of a kind. Working with him in the Brockport Baseball/Softball league has given us some wonderful memories of him. He was truly one of the kindest people we have even known.

  38. Renee and Family,

    Harry and I were so sadden by Gary’s passing. I am happy that he is with God now He gave so much of himself to the community and his family. He always had a smile on his face, something I’ll remember about him.

    Our sympathy to you and your family. God bless you all.

  39. Renee and family: Please know you have my deepest sympathy at this time of loss. Gary is now well in God’s arms and a very happy man indeed. May you always remember his love and devotion. May God give you rest and peace. Shirley

  40. Renee or ‘Mrs. Claus’ as we know you, My heart dropped when I read todays paper.It was the first time we saw the face behind Santa Claus.I first encountered Gary answering an add for Santa Claus.He asked me how many children and I said one…he paused and said he would come. I believe at that time he was doing groups of children. He went out of his way on this special evening, even though it was only one child to see. Gary was here for nearly two hours and over the years became part of our Christmas Eve family.My son,Tyler and I always left Santa Claus meatballs and cookies.Before he left us on Christmas Eve,we would packed a meatball sandwich and some cookies for the skies! He said he always looked forward to our home made meatballs.My son was petrified of Santa that first evening,but by the end of the evening they were pals.Playing dinosaurs and reading books. The joy this man has brought to this mother’s eyes over the years has been the most wonderful gift a mother could receive. Santa even let us come to the North Pole,where we all made cookies with Mr.and Mrs.Claus.My son is twelve and this was the first year without Santa.Two years ago Santa gave my son his Night Before Christmas book to pass on to his children,as Santa was fearing we were getting close to the end of Santa coming here on Christmas Eve. This book was the book he had carried year after year,read to many children and he gave it to my son!. We were fortunate to get on more year with Santa,as Tyler still believed .The very last time Santa was here Santa, gave my son a recorded story book with Gary’s voice…a keepsake! The memories this man has given to our entire family is priceless. We are sadden to hear of such a fine,loving,giving man gone too soon. May you and your family find comfort in all the wonderful memories I am sure he gave you ,but knowing all what he did for others. He is a true angel and the perfect Santa Claus. The heavens are now blessed with our Santa Claus for all the children as well gone too soon. May God bless you and please ‘Believe’ as our Santa may be gone but we do believe in the joy of giving,loving and caring for others. This is what Santa was to us.
    Thankyou Gary!
    All our love,
    Terryann & Tyler

  41. Theresa, Mike, Makayla & The Zastrow Families; Our heartfelt sympathy goes out to all of you during this very sad time. It is very obvious, from the many postings in Gary’s Guest Book, that he certainly made a difference on this Earth… to his Family, his Friends and the Community. What an outstanding man that lived a purposeful life. May you find peace in the many wonderful memories you have of him, and comfort in knowing that he is no longer in pain. Your families are in our thoughts & prayers. Theresa – So deeply sorry about your Brother. Love, Sue & Kim

  42. To my daughter Renee and children. My heart goes to the entire family.
    Gary was a wonderful son in law. He was kind to all.Gary was one that I was
    able to play tricks on him and we would laugh for a long time.I will always remember him in my prays and think about the good times.Sitting on his lap when he played Santa Clause.
    was a great joy.Gary I will miss you
    Love to the entire family.
    Love ma and grandma

  43. To my daughter Renee and children. My heart goes to the entire family.
    Gary was a wonderful son in law. He was kind to all.Gary was one that I was
    able to play tricks on him and we would laugh for a long time.I will always remember him in my prays and think about the good times.Sitting on his lap when he played Santa Clause.
    was a great joy.Gary I will miss you
    Love to the entire family.
    Love ma and grandma

  44. To my daughter Renee and children. My heart goes to the entire family.
    Gary was a wonderful son in law. He was kind to all.Gary was one that I was
    able to play tricks on him and we would laugh for a long time.I will always remember him in my prays and think about the good times.Sitting on his lap when he played Santa Clause.
    was a great joy.Gary I will miss you
    Love to the entire family.
    Love ma and grandma

  45. Very sorry for your loss. I will miss Gary and his friendship. He always had a smile for you. he was a great friend to all.

  46. Very sorry to hear of Gary’s passing however now he is in ‘good hands’ and at peace. We send our sympathies, love and respect to all the Zastrow families.


  47. We are saddened at the news of Gary’s passing. I have fond memories of good times spent with him at the the Chaumont cottage and at the pond near home. He is in a better place now with our Lord. We pray for healing for you and the family.

    Mike, Jeannie, Owen & Laila Auble

  48. We are so sorry to learn of Gary’s passing. His energy, his smile, his laugh (definitely a wonderful ‘Santa’ laugh), his thoughtfulness, his whole personality made a difference in the lives of so many people – especially with the love he had for children. He will be missed. Our love and prayers to Renee and the Zastrow family.

  49. We are so sorry. We know you will miss Gary greatly. I feel bad that we never kept it touch the last few years. Time just got away and we were both so busy with our lives. We are thinking of you and your family in this difficult time. Renee we love you so. Marla will never forget the fun times we had in college. Again we send our condolences to you Renee and your wonderful family.

    John and Marla Swartele- Shortsville, NY

  50. we the kepler family are sorry for the loss of Gary. we will always remember him as warm, outgoing and caring

    Doris, Karen, david

  51. I am so sorry to hear of Gary’s passing. He was a great leader and friend. I will miss his kind smile and his ever positive attitude. I will carry my memories of Gary forever and hope to pass along his wisdom to my son as he starts scouting in the near future.

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