Gary L. Fletcher
Gary Leo Fletcher
Gary was born in Hardy County, West Virginia, the
older of two sons of Earl and Golda Fletcher. He lived
just two "hollows" over from Ed Reel. When he was
eight months old, his parents moved to Bayfield, Wis-
consin, a small fishing and farming community. He grew
up in Bayfield and graduated from high school ·with letters
in both baseball and basketball. At the age of six
teen, he was indentured to his father and the Bricklayers
Local Number Ten. Gary has been involved in masonry
his entire life.
In July, 1951, Gary volunteered for the Navy before
the draft. Living next to Lake Superior, he did his recruit
training at the Great Lakes, Illinois Training Center.
From there he went to New London, Conn. for school
and then on to Norfolk, VA where he was assigned to
submarine squadron six (Submarine Force Pacific and
Atlantic Fleet, Subron 6). He served on three ships:
the USS Razorback, the USS Orion and the USS Kitti
wicke. After serving on the Razorback and then the
Orion, he was sent to help in a training program for sub
marine rescue on the Kittiwicke. Gary then returned to
the Orion and served his remaining time aboard her
The USS Razorback was eventually given to North
Little Rock, Arkansas, for a museum. The USS Kittiwicke
was towed to the Cayman Islands in 2010 and
was sunk off shore as an artificial reef. The USS Orion
was decommissioned on September 30, 1993 at a
ceremony in Norfolk, VA that Gary attended. The Orion
was then used for scrap iron. The Orion was a grand
old gal and they had a great Captain in 1953, William
Taionsella. Captain Taionsella later became known
as "Hurricane Bill" after having survived four hurricanes,
including Hurricane Carol which almost sunk him
off of Newport, Rhode Island, with a little help from a
near-miss with a destroyer.
Gary was pretty shy and even a little backwards in
1951 when he enlisted in the Navy, but the education
he received during his service, no college could match.
He credits the Navy with changing his life and any
success he has achieved is the result of his time in
Gary met his wife, Neva Yates, in 1952 while on
liberty in Winchester visiting relatives in the area.
They were married on December 26, 1953 and have
been blessed with six children: five sons and one
After leaving the Navy in 1953, they returned to
Bayfield, Wisconsin and Gary went back to work as a
stone mason and brick layer. In 1958, they moved
to Stephens City where he worked as a bricklayer.
In 1970, he had the good fortune to meet and work
with Herb Taylor at the Dowel J. Howard Vocational
Center. Their shops were next to each other and
they became, and have remained, great friends. In
1979, he went to work for the Brick Institute of America
in Mclean, VA, as the Director of Manpower Development.
The BIA is the association of all brick
manufacturers in the United States and Europe, teaching
masonry instructors at many major colleges.
He also worked in the Engineering Department at
BIA, specializing in masonry materials, design and
diagnosis of problems, repairs and restoration, water
penetration testing, masonry cleaning and treatments
and onsite masonry inspections.
Gary has also served on the US Department of Education
Trade and Industrial Committee, looking for ways
to improve trade training in the United States. In addition,
he was the United States expert on brick laying,
judging competitions in the United States, Europe and
When he left BIA, Gary and his wife spent a year
traveling the United States. Gary commented, "What a
great country we have". Following their cross-country
trip, Gary went back to work for Frederick Block and
Brick as their Architectural Salesman until he retired.
He became licensed to the ministry on October 2, 1994
by the Shenandoah District Church of the Brethern Ministry
Commission. The Lord has blessed Gary in many
ways. He now enjoys his time working in his shop at
home, hunting and fishing and being a part of great
organizations like the Shenandoah Valley Chapter,
Korean War Veterans Association. Gary is a very active member of the Salem Church of the Brethern in Stephens City where he serves as a Deacon, is a Trustee and serves on the Board of Directors. He also filled the pulpit on occasion when he was needed.