Photography

Gregory Flack Zettler

September 30, 1934 ~ March 19, 2024 (age 89) 89 Years Old

Gregory Zettler Obituary

Gregory Flack Zettler, known affectionately as Greg to friends and family, passed away peacefully with his wife (Cheryl), daughter (Laurie), and dear caretaker (Terry) by his side on March 19, 2024, in Seattle, WA. Being soft-hearted and hard-headed were his superpowers, carrying him through challenging times, and he created a wonderful life of 89 years rich with adventure, achievement, love, and laughter.

After earning his Master’s in Engineering from Louisiana State University, he started his 35 years with Boeing at the Michoud Facility in New Orleans, where he contributed to the design of heat shields for the iconic Saturn V in the Apollo 11 mission. In 1974 after a cross-country drive to Bellevue, WA, Greg's career continued at Boeing, where his work ensured the airflow and temperature on 727, 737, and 757 flights were safe and comfortable. He retired in 1991.

Greg tackled all his obsessions at 200%. In the years B.C. (Before Cheryl), he served in the US Marine Corps, shared a Cessna with a friend, kept a motorcycle in his living room, and occasionally raced cars. Later with Cheryl and friends he raced Lightning sailboats on Lake Pontchartrain in New Orleans and then the chilly waters off Shilshole in Seattle for over 20 years, securing an attic full of trophies and silver platters. He skied with legs perfectly pinned together on both water and snow, slalom skiing (sometimes backwards) on Lake Concordia, LA and later every weekend down the slopes of Alpental, Crystal and Whistler/Blackcomb with Laurie. When his body objected to thrill sports, he built, flew, and competed with large-scale remote-control airplanes in the Marymoor Radio Control Club. At 85 he was still riding his bike, playing soccer with grandkids at the park, working in his gorgeous rose garden and occasionally cleaning the roof, despite everyone’s objections.

Greg is survived by his wife of 55 years, Cheryl. They met at a dance and he approached her because she was cute, had black hair, and was tall enough for his liking. Cheryl became his perfect complement, a fiercely competitive partner in bridge and in doing all things frugally, only after intense research, and with laser-sharp precision. After retirement, Cheryl and Greg enjoyed countless adventures fly fishing in Alaska, boating in the San Juans and Gulf Islands, golfing and visiting family across the Gulf states, and adventuring abroad in Scotland, Italy, France, and Germany.

He is also missed deeply by daughter, Laurie. He taught her to ski with her legs properly locked together, spit off a chairlift, drive a stick shift at 13, whistle and jitterbug, change spark plugs, fix things with duct tape, sneak into any hotel pool with a white towel, invest and squirrel away savings, and always let her know he believed in her.

He was delighted as the family grew and loved time spent doing any project with son-in-law Eric and became a familiar fan at his grandchildren’s sporting events. His favorite times were with Cheryl, Laurie, Eric, and kids Vivian, Miles, and Gus in Mazama taking rainy hikes, drawing, throwing snowballs and playing in the woods. He took the game of Telephone to a new level of ridiculous due to his (selective) hearing loss and colorful vocabulary.

Greg also leaves behind “little” brothers, Roger and Peter, who found themselves both the target and co-conspirators of antics growing up in Chicago and later in Ferriday, LA with cousins David and Bill. It was a gift to us all to see the 3 Zettler brothers reunited last year in Seattle and hear their crazy stories in person. He was well-loved by numerous nieces and nephews, who report that Uncle Greg gave them gifts their parents weren’t pleased with and taught them the best tricks on waterskis.

The family extends their love and deep gratitude to the team from Kline Galland and Silver Pacific, especially Florence, Esther, Terry, and Matt for their incredible love joyful care over the past year+. He adored and appreciated you all! 

To say that Greg was a character would be an understatement. He did not believe in accidents, because in Greg's world, all good things were the result of grit, hard work, and chocolate.

Memorial details in May 2024 are pending. Please leave your name or comments to stay in touch. 

Please share memories, photos, and condolences on the tribute wall, located above.

Arrangements entrusted to Emmick Family Funeral Home of West Seattle

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