Age 87, of Wilmington, IL, passed away peacefully on Saturday, October 22, 2022 at his home with his wife and son by his side.
Gary Brieser, a builder of not only bridges, foundations, and building, but also a builder of relationships was born March 28, 1935 in Mineral, IL. A son to Marion Nathan Brieser and Elinor Hughes Drummond, and a step-son to Gerald Drummond and Ruby Brieser. Gary grew up in Alsey, IL with his mother and step father. In the late 40's he moved to Wilmington where his step-father worked for the Joliet Army Ammunition Plant and Wilmington Paper Mill, and his mother was a short order cook. Gary attended Wilmington High School, graduating with the Class of 1953, and later attended Joliet Junior College where he took drafting classes.
As a young boy Gary worked at John Dvorik Restaurant and gas station on old 66, which later became a welding shop owned by Ed Czys. After school he would set pins at the bowling alley while also working for Web Lewis at his gas station. It was in the early 50's that Gary started his career and was also a junkman. He began working for Bill Davy doing construction and after college was a draftsman at the Joliet Arsenal. For a short period of time Gary sold life insurance, but he always said his education was by doing things. On September 11, 1955 Gary married Barbara Ann Southall in the First Presbyterian Church in Wilmington, and together they cherished 67 years.
Gary worked for Ugland Construction in Joliet while going to college, and after leaving became General Superintendent for Simpson Construction. Gary later became partners with Don Lockwood and Bernard Benson in Island Construction and went on to become a partner in company doing fine grading with lasers called Laser Methods with Harold Evans in Texas. He eventually partnered with George Bexson and Gene Wren who owned Westside Rental in Joliet.
In 1978, Gary went into business with his son Steve and created Brieser Construction Co. Together they focused on doing civil industrial construction and maintenance in the heavy industrial markets of Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan and Western Indiana; specifically in maintenance, new construction projects and pipeline support. Eventually Gary and his son bought 170 acres of property and started construction on a marina along the DesPlaines River called Breezy Harbor. Gary spent a big share of his time after retiring in early 2000 developing the property into a subdivision, Quarry PUD.
Gary was an avid boater and he and his wife spent a lot of time traveling on their boats. They went from his home on the DesPlaines River all the way to Florida and then back up the East Coast through New York Harbor, the Trent Severn Waterway, and Canada. They then traveled through the Great Lakes ending back at their home on the river. Many weekends were spent on the Kankakee River where they both loved all boating activities including water skiing.
When Steve was growing up, he and Gary spent many weekends riding dirt bikes and hill climbing in the area. One of Gary’s many other activities was owning and working on his antique vintage vehicles with Rich Saunder. His collection included a Ford Model A Cabriolet, 1934 Ford Cabriolet, 1940 Ford Coupe, 1952 Ford, 1980 Shay reproduction roadster and a 1948 International M tractor which was owned by his father. He also built a 1932 Model A Street Rod for his wife.
Gary had a 1958 Hendrickson that he refurbished with the help of John Hedrick and Bull Head Motors, and he partially restored a 1945 Ford Grain truck. He loved getting together with the Model A club members and going on many tours with his old cars. In 2002 Gary's 1930 Model A appeared in the movie Road to Perdition featuring Tom Hanks.
Gary was a member of Will & Grundy Co. Contractors Association, where he served as Vice Chairman from 1986 to 1987, and Chairman from 1988 until 1989. In addition, he served on the Government Relations Committee with Will County’s Building Department and Stormwater Management Committee, as well as was the Chairman of the Association’s Labor Negotiations, and honored as Member of the Year in 2001. Gary was also actively involved with the Wilmington Jaycee, Wilmington Lions Club, Joliet Antique Auto Club and Marc Model A Club. He was instrumental in the founding of the Three Rivers Construction Alliance, acting as the Management Co-Chair starting in 1998. Gary also served on the Three Rivers Safety School Board from 1993 through 1998.
For many that knew Gary and his love for the community, they would hear him say: “If I had a Million Dollars, I would be right here today.” He lived by the motto,
"G.ive more than you get.
Give the other guy W.hat he wants.
Leave things B.etter than you find them."
Survivors include his wife Barbara Ann Brieser of Wilmington; one son Steve Brieser of Grand Haven, MI; granddaughter Ryann (Mark) Cottonaro of Redwood City, CA; two great granddaughters: Elise and Lia Cottonaro; five siblings: Dianna Drummond Lindsey of LaCrosse, WI., Janice Drummond (whom he raised after their mother passed away) of LaCrosse,WI., Martha Brieser Robinson of Temple Terrace, FL., Kathy Brieser Hessel of Tampa, FL., and Daniel (Betty) Brieser of LeClaire, IA.; sisters-in-law: Margaret Van Duyne of Wilmington, IL., and Nancy (Greg) Leigh of Avon, IL.; as well as numerous nieces and nephews
Gary was preceded in death by his parents, Elenor (Gerald) Drummond and Ruby (Marion) Brieser; one brother William Drummond, one sister Angie Drummond Dahl, five brothers-in-law: Vince Van Duyne, Burnell Southall, Buck Lindsey, Warren Hessel and Bob Robinson and one sister-in-law Bonnie Davis Southall.
Cremation rites have been accorded per Gary's wishes. The family will receive friends during a memorial bonfire at the Quarry Subdivision on October 22, 2023.
Preferred memorials in Gary's memory may be made as gifts to Lightways Hospice in Joliet.
Friends and family are encouraged to log onto www.BaskervilleFuneral.com to sign the online guestbook, submit photos and share Gary's memorial page via social media.