Gary Lee Bodenstadt passed away suddenly from natural causes on February 10, 2020 at the age of 76. He was born to Jean Cunningham and Charles Bodenstadt, on October 29, 1943 in Grove City PA, and grew up on a farm in Ohio. He married the “love of his life” Susan Krieger, June 6, 1964, in Randolph, Ohio. Gary and Susan migrated to Alaska through the compliments of the US Army in 1967. Gary prided himself in being a specialist at all of his endeavors and was self-employed for most of his adult life. Gary was well known for his mechanical ability at a very young age. After leaving the Army in 1969 he worked briefly for local dealerships before opening G&S Machine in the early 70’s. In 1985 he sold his business and tried leaving Alaska, but like most Alaskans was back within a year. Upon returning to Alaska he managed the shop at Fairbanks Machine & Steel until they closed their doors. He then returned to what he knew best; diesel mechanics opening the Diesel Doctor in spring of 1990. He turned the business over to his sons when he retired.
Following his retirement, Gary spent endless hours in his “race car shop” as Gary’s true love was Drag Racing and classic cars. He was the proud owner of the Alaskan Grizzly, a AA Fuel Altered nitro burning dragster that currently holds the State of Alaska’s best speed record. Drag Racing was a family sport as his youngest son, Jamie, was the driver and his oldest son, Marty, was the expert on the team, together they were unstoppable. With Gary at the helm, the family competed in racing in the lower 48 in the late 90’s and early 2000’s winning the Fuel Altered Nationals in Boise in 1996. Gary had hundreds of friends throughout Alaska and the lower 48 through his racing endeavors. Gary truly left us much too soon as he had big plans for the 2020 racing season. He was just finishing a new car to campaign in the lower 48 in what was named the “Chaos Series”, a “run what you brung” funny car series. He was anxiously looking forward to competing nationally again.
In Gary’s 52 years of living in Alaska he touched hundreds of lives through his mentoring of Drag Racers, automotive mechanics and machinists. His knowledge and expertise in the automotive industry was legendary, his legacy will live on forever.
Gary was the family “rock”, a great man, husband, father and friend. He was dearly loved and will be deeply missed.
He was preceded in death by both parents and his brother, John. He is survived by his spouse, Susan, after 55 years of marriage, his two sons Martin and James and daughter-in-law Angela, along with six grandchildren, Nathaniel, Jesse, Ryan, Zachary, Brooke and Madison, additionally five half brothers and sisters in the lower 48.
A Celebration of Life is planned for March 28th at the Elks Lodge in Fairbanks from 4:00 to 7:00pm. All his friends are encouraged to attend to share their stories and memories. Please bring a covered dish to share at the Potluck.
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