Conrad "Connie" Gigstead
1922 - 2014, Santa Barbara
Conrad “Connie” Gigstead, of Santa Barbara passed away unexpectedly on February 19, 2014. Born in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin in 1922. During WW2 he served in the Army Air Force, flying dangerous missions “over the hump” from India to China and back. After completing his military service he returned to Milwaukee, WI and attended Marquette University where he earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Electrical Engineering. After earning his degree, Connie hired on with AC Sparkplug, later AC Delco, as part of the Missile and Space Flight Guidance Systems Program. He and his teams played a key role in the development of inertial guidance systems for many of the early NASA programs. He was exceptionally proud of his role as Flight Test Director at Cape Canaveral, FL during the heyday of space flight. He retired from Delco, General Motors in 1986 after 36 years of service with a final position of Field Service Director at the Santa Barbara facility.
An avid golfer, Connie won the Wisconsin High School Golf Championship in 1937 and went on to play for his college team. Connie loved fishing, hunting and in later years traveling the western United States. His greatest passion was as a lifelong “Packer Backer”, cheering on his beloved Green Bay Packers through both thick and thin years.
Conrad is survived by his wife Lois, son Dan and his wife Lauri, his grandsons Christopher and wife Jaime, Andrew and his wife Nikki and his great grandchildren, Riley, Kaleigh, Lily and Finnley. He was proud to be a part of Lois’ family including her sons Dave Sokolowski and wife Patty, Steven Sokolowski and wife Dawn and grandchildren Savana and Steven.
Conrad was predeceased by his first wife Hazel and their son Keith Gigstead.
As he requested, there will be no service or memorial. Choosing rather that all his friends and family remember him through all the countless stories and tall tales for which he was famous. In keeping with his “a life well lived is it’s own reward” philosophy, he wished everyone to live well every day and start each meal with dessert in case you don’t make it to the end of the meal.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to: Santa Barbara Humane Society, 5399 Overpass Road, Santa Barbara, CA 93111, Girls Inc. of Greater Santa Barbara, PO Box 236, Santa Barbara, CA 93102 or a charity of your choice.