Earl Joseph Garstka

April 3, 1936June 11, 2021

MSgt Earl Joseph Garstka, USAF (Ret.)

age 85 of Chicago, IL passed away June 11, 2021, in McKinney, TX.

Born April 3, 1936, in Chicago, IL, Earl was the son of Polish-immigrant and U.S. citizen Joseph Vincent Garstka and Agatha (Agnes) Elizabeth Jachim, both of Chicago, IL.

Earl grew up in the Polish-suburbs of Chicago during the Great Depression where he ran around enjoying the city as a kid, attended parochial school, and played in the Wells High School band. Having an interest in journalism, he worked at the great Chicago Tribune as a 4th basement newsreader, quickly receiving and redirecting handwritten news notes via vacuum-tubes from around the city to the appropriate copywriters. Earl graduated in 1954 from Reed-Custer High School in Braidwood, IL after his parents moved to rural IL just before his senior year. After graduating, he worked as a mechanic and a welder while helping on the family farm and enjoying country life. Earl was an extremely intelligent, self-taught jack-of-many-trades expert, and an inventor and mechanic who could quickly diagnose, suggest solutions, and build and repair just about anything.

Earl was proud of his Polish heritage, and an extremely patriotic first-generation born American. He gained a great appreciation for military service while growing up during WWII and admiring family who had served. Earl was fascinated, especially by flight, and took to the skies to earn his private pilot’s license and admire America from above. He enlisted into the United States Air Force (USAF), first serving as a cardiac medic, and later in Electronic Security Command. While serving, Earl met and married Susan, the love of his life (also a veteran and wife of almost 61 years). Military-life took him and their young family to many U.S. states and other countries all around the world. Earl served 3 tours in Vietnam, flew over 250 combat missions and 4,000+ hours, and was awarded 10 Air Medals. He attended the Community College of the Air Force, studying Electronics and made military service his life-long career. Earl loved and was proud to serve in the U.S. military, humbly stating, “I just did my part. It was THE best job I’ve ever had.” After military service, he was a ship Radio Officer, and later worked in marine electronics. Earl was known as trusted, responsible, dependable, and an honorable leader who was an expert in his field(s).

When home, Earl enjoyed life’s simplicities with family: exploring country roads, fixing cars and bikes, hunting and fishing, building models, inventing, playing chess and guitar/music, attending military air shows, flying remote-control airplanes, and teaching life skills. As a retired combat veteran, he became a Life Member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Frisco VFW Post 8273. Earl was a Christian who loved his family, extended family, and grand doggies immensely. He spent his last years as the kind old jovial gentlemen grandfather (known as Dziadek) who loved spending time with family, telling stories, playing card games, and engaging in a good joke. He always encouraged his family to slow down and enjoy the simple things in life using the phrase “take it easy” in every goodbye. Earl’s remarkable intelligence, quick wit, and sense of humor with endearing chuckle will be greatly missed. Farewell to the Sage, Man, Father, Dziadek, and Patriot. May Earl soar to heaven and forever fly in peace with our Heavenly Father.

Earl was loved by all and will be deeply missed. He is survived by his beloved wife Susan, daughter Debra Garstka Miller (husband John), and son Dave Garstka (wife Angela). Earl was the loving Dziadek to grandchildren Jason (& Kristyn) Garstka, Justin (& Doreen) Garstka, Ashley Flower, Laura Miller, Katherine Miller, Alexandra Garstka, Madison Garstka, and the treasured great-grandfather to Caleb, Dominic, Kayleigh, and Alan. He also leaves behind dear in-laws, nieces, nephews, extended family, and friends.

Earl is preceded in death by his parents, brother Norbert V. Garstka, U.S. Army, and son Alan E. Garstka, U.S. Navy.

Per his wishes, cremation and interment is planned. A gathering of family and friends will be held Thursday, June 24, 2021, at Stonebriar Funeral Home in Frisco, TX, with full military honors at the Dallas Ft. Worth National Cemetery, Arlington, TX.

Family and friends are encouraged to sign the online guest book, upload photographs, and share Earl’s memorial page. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the VFW or its Auxiliary to help other veterans in need. Your contribution will allow him to continue serving veterans and their families from the other side.

Frisco VFW:

Frisco VFW Auxiliary:


  • Celebration of Life honoring Earl Garstka

    Thursday, June 24, 2021

  • Graveside Service

    Thursday, June 24, 2021


Earl Joseph Garstka

have a memory or condolence to add?

Laura Miller

July 30, 2021

Dziadek never knew a stranger. He took in all of us whether we’re blood or not. He loved everyone unconditionally, and we loved him the same. He taught us all the importance of loving your family, how to survive on your own, selfless service, and so so so much more. I’ll especially miss his jovial smile and ability to crack a joke in any situation. My favorite memories of him always revolved around some sort of Garstka get-together. Something I love about the Garstkas is that there is AWAYS something to celebrate. Dziadek was always there when he could be, and he was laughing just as much as everyone else. Sometimes he would pull kids aside and give us a mini life lesson, or tell a story from his younger days. I will cherish all of these memories with him! When bidding farewell, he always said “Take it easy”, and knocked us off our feet with the biggest bear hugs. So, take it easy Dziadek, we’ll see you again someday. ♥️

Debra Miller

July 3, 2021

Dad - No one knows how they might effect someone’s life, but I know you've impacted many on Earth, especially your family. You loved deeply and it showed. Your love lives through those you've touched. Thank you for being a great Dad and Dziadek with the highest integrity...for teaching everyday life and survival skills and instilling strength and common sense, patriotism, and duty, honor and service to America...for living love, strong marriage, family presence, and positivity through adversity.

I observed how you loved and strengthened our entire family through lessons, helping prepare us for life's continuous journey and shaping those who took a piece of you with them. I do wish you'd left a recorded instruction/lesson-book, but now I must pray my mind will have instant playback when needed. I will miss your laughter, jokes...smiles and sparkly pride-filled eyes when holding your family close and when seeing their accomplishments. I will miss all of YOU, your hugs, wisdom, valuable expertise in so many things, playing guitar together, and you reaching for your magnifying headset to fix things. Our memories together will ease my broken heart. We know you won't worry about leaving us unprepared. You raised a strong family with common sense and good skills.

Thank you for working so hard for our family, for being responsible, a great provider and teacher, for keeping us safe, for living life to the fullest and with us as long as you possibly could, ...for laughing with us, and encouraging us to be more in life. I will always be grateful for your TIME with me and the entire family.

I pray I can give as much in life that you gave me. You were amazing! Until we meet again, may you soar with our Heavenly Father.
I will love you forever, Dad!
Your daughter, Debi.

Isaiah 40:31 - But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not be faint.

Kristyn Garstka

June 20, 2021

Grandpa Garstka,
Words cannot express how much you will be missed by everyone you loved. You were a one of a kind person and when I first met you I knew that you were special. I will always think about our family FaceTime chats with you and Grandma. Kayleigh loved seeing y’all’s faces on the other end of the call. She always knew who her Dziadek was and we all loved you so very much. When I first found out that you had gone to heaven my first thought was “I know Alan was there to meet him”. Y’all behave up there and we will see you again one day ❤️

Doreen Garstka

June 20, 2021

Grandpa (and Great Grandpa Garstka),
We're so heartbroken about the news. You were a wonderful person. Alan had this very special bond with you although he only saw you twice in his life. We're so grateful you got the chance to meet him. We miss you so very much! We're relieved to know that you're hanging out with your son Alan right now sharing all of your memories and stories together. We love and miss you so very much! Until we meet again, Alan and Doreen

Madison Garstka

June 20, 2021

Dziadek, I love you and miss you so much already. I loved visiting and hanging out with you and the family. You always made me laugh and had the best hugs. You were the best Dziadek and I am so thankful for you. .Thank you so much for everything. ❤️

Jason Garstka

June 20, 2021

Garstka Family,

This month has been a difficult time for the family, we lost our lighthouse beacon that has shaped us into the people that we are today. Similar to a lighthouse, Grandpa was there to help us navigate through both calm and stormy waters. He offered us light, radiance, and guidance throughout our lives when we needed it. There have been times in our lives when we looked for a guiding light to help us in a difficult situation and our leader was always there! He was always there when we needed him, he shined a reassuring light for all of us. He provided us with structure to ensure we stay afloat, he was our family safety net. As we live the rest of our lives, we will remember the gentle soul that always wanted the best for his family. He truly loved each and everyone of us, lets not forget that. He lives on in our hearts, we all have a piece of him inside of us which makes him still alive on this earth. May god wrap our family with warmth and comfort during this time! Love you Grandpa and the Garstka Family!

Susan Garstka

June 19, 2021

Honey -
Truly enjoyed our 61 precious years together.
Will miss you everyday until we meet again.
I'll love you forever.
Susie <3

Alexandra Garstka

June 19, 2021

My name is Alexandra Garstka and I wouldn’t be the person I am today without my grandfather. Dziadek was an incredible and intelligent man who overcame a lot of obstacles and accomplished a lot in his life. When I think about him the words that come to mind are: hard worker, wise, caring, humorous, storyteller, educator, faithful, respectful, craftsman, and family man; but there are so much more. My earliest memories of time spent with my grandfather was him teaching me how to play chess and teaching me how to play the guitar. I didn’t fully appreciate it then, but looking back it was really wonderful how much he wanted to educate me and to this day I really enjoy playing the guitar. As my sister and I grew older and became busier with our own lives we saw him less and less; but he always made an effort to call us and spread his love. I respected him greatly and cherished all the time we spent together. I only hope that I can live up to the example of love, strength, character, and integrity that he set for all of us. The fact that he’s not here with us anymore breaks my heart, but I find comfort in knowing that he is in a much better place with our Lord and savior. One day in the future we will meet again in heaven. Until then I will pass your wisdom down to my children and future grandchildren. I want to thank you for being such a wonderful person to me, your family and friends. We will all miss you and love you always.

Dave Garstka

June 14, 2021

Dad - I love you. I have many, many memories of how you helped me grow through the years. From the days you and I would work on repairing our zenith color tv, the washer, working on cars, installing our first ceiling fan in the front room, welding my bike back together, teaching me chess, teaching me baseball, being at my soccer and baseball games, assisting in my studies when you could, letting me learn from my own mistakes and grow up from them, being there for me when I needed help. Sharing your life experiences to make me a better man; encouraging not to sweat the small stuff...tomorrow is another day. The laughs we shared - as well as the tears. I am blessed to have you as my father. I can’t thank you enough for the 49 loving years. May god bless you and you can now be at peace. Don’t worry about mom....Deb and I will take care of her!!! In closing - send mom, Deb and I a hello every now and then; give Alan, Uncle Norb, Uncle Skip, all the grandparents a hello. I love you. Your loving youngest boy, Dave

Kathleen Oglesby

June 13, 2021

I'm sharing in your sadness and grief as you remember your beloved husband and father. Much love Susan, Debra and Dave.


"God Bless Our Home" in Polish.


Earl's Dad - Polish Immigrant and US citizen
Joseph Vincent Garstka
Chicago IL


Earl's Dad comes to America in 1913.


Earl Joseph Garstka - First Generation born Polish-American.


With Mom
Chicago IL


Earl with Trixy - Chicago IL


With little brother 1940