Edwin Culbert Gras, 96, of Port Charlotte, Fla., passed away Friday, Jan. 25, 2013, at Tidewell Hospice House in Port Charlotte.
Edwin was born April 29, 1916, in Worcester, Mass., to Norman Scott Brien Gras and Ethel Culbert Gras.
He was raised in Cambridge, Mass., where his Father was a Professor at the Harvard Business School. Edwin graduated from Harvard University with a BA and MA in mathematics. His first job was to teach math, electricity and electronics at Harvard Engineering School. At the same time he was an Eagle Scout and Scout Master.
When he was 26 years old, Edwin met a “young gal,” Alta, the “love of his life.” They were married in July 1943.
During World War II he received a direct commission as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army. After one year as an Electronics Officer in the Signal Corps, he was transferred to Special Forces in the U.S. Air Corps, and was the Officer of a Special Weapons Detachment in Guided Missiles. There he had training in the Gyroscope, Radio Control, Television Control and Jet Engines.
Edwin and Alta moved to Annapolis, Md., in July 1946, when Edwin was hired as a Professor of Mathematics at The U.S. Naval Academy. While teaching at the Naval Academy, he was also lauded by the school for his achievements as an Ocean Racing Sailing Coach and Skipper/Navigator for 12 ocean races. He joined the United States Power Squadron and taught Celestial Navigation for 10 years. He was a Senior Counselor in the Math Science Division, and a Computer Programming Instructor, assisting the Dean writing Computer Programs for the Naval Academy. Edwin retired from the Naval Academy in 1973.
Edwin and Alta traveled to Florida and settled first in Marathon, Fla., in the Keys, where for 10 years they took care of both of their mothers. When both mothers passed in 1986, they moved to Port Charlotte. They joined the Punta Gorda Sailing Club, where he was in great demand to help other boat owners, and volunteered as Treasurer for the club. In 1994, they moved into South Port Square, where he took great pride in his ability to volunteer as Treasurer for the Friends of Music, Habitat for Humanity, and the South Port Square residents’ funds. Edwin and Alta contributed financial support for the construction of two houses for Charlotte County Habitat for Humanity in Port Charlotte.
He is survived by two children, Carole A. Gras of Lawrence, Mass., and Robert S. (Karen) Gras of Fairbanks, Alaska. He was preceded in death by his wife of 68 years, Alta Gras, in 2011.
A memorial celebration of his life will be held in New England this summer at a time to be announced. Memorial contributions may be made to Habitat for Humanity, in memory of Edwin and Alta Gras.
Arrangements are by Charlotte Memorial Funeral Home and Cemetery.