Celebrating the Life of Darryl Gustafson

Darryl Emmanuel Gustafson, soft-spoken husband and father. – Courtesy photo

After bravely battling Parkinson’s, Darryl Emmanuel Gustafson passed into eternity on April 28, 2017 in Arcadia, California, with dear family by his side.

Darryl was born on a farm in northwest Iowa in 1935. When he was 10, his family moved to a nearby small town, named Albert City. His early work experience included summer jobs operating automatic screw machines at a local grease gun factory. After high school, it wasn’t a tough decision to reject a career at the factory, and Darryl left to attend North Park College in Chicago, ultimately graduating from Northwestern University with a B.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering in 1958.

Darryl became particularly interested in optics and especially in the new use of computers in optical design. He began designing lenses for defense and aerospace applications, including the Surveyor project – the first soft landing on the moon. In January of 1965, Darryl moved from Chicago to Southern California, joining former colleague Tom Harris as a partner in startup Optical Research Associates. Together, Tom and Darryl grew ORA to almost 100 employees in multiple offices, as the company provided custom optical design services to government and industry for a wide variety of applications and developed two computer programs to design optical systems.

His work ethic pervaded his daily life as well. He was a hard worker with a broad base of skills, and it took some doing to get him to ultimately give up getting under the car to change the oil himself, let others install sprinkler systems in his yard, repair broken pipes, and so on.

Darryl was a patient and soft-spoken husband and father to seven children and second-“father” to other family members and friends, and a respected co-worker. He loved singing in the choir at Lake Avenue Church, traveling the world with his wife, spending time with his children and grandchildren, renewing relationships with old friends, following the stock market, and playing golf (or as he put it, “trying to”).

Darryl was dearly loved and will be sorely missed, by many including his family who survived him: his wife of almost 40 years Clarita Gustafson, his children Miriam Hameed, Sarah Perry, Robert Gustafson (wife, Jennifer), Tara Leonard (husband, Doug), and Mark Gustafson (wife, Luann), his sisters Betty Nordine and Dorene Eisentrager, and his many grandchildren and extended family and friends. Darryl’s sons, Paul Gustafson and Aaron Gustafson, were waiting to welcome him into heaven.

May 22, 2017

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