Marinus L. DeGast (Mars), at 98, passed away on November 19, 2019. Devoted husband of the late Dorothy L. DeGast and father to Gloria S. Gaddis. The oldest of four brothers, he is predeceased by Hilaire DeGast (Janice) and Leonard DeGast (Mary Ruth); and survived by Kenneth DeGast (Louise). Also survived by granddaughter Melanie S. Koller (Howard), three wonderful greatgrandchildren, Jordan Koller, AJ Koller (deceased) and Hunter Koller, and many nieces and nephews.
Mars was born in Washington, DC and raised in the Columbia Heights area of DC. He attended Central High School. He married Dorothy on March 2, 1948. Mars joined U.S. Naval Air Force Reserve in 1938 and in 1940 he was activated to active duty where he served until 1945. He saw duty at Anacostia and Clark Field in the Philippines where he ran the motion picture theater.
He worked for AAA from 1945 to 1952 serving as a driving instructor, salesman of membership and auto insuranace. He was an insurance agent for fire and casualty insurance for the Washington and Suburban Insurance Corporation from 1952 to 1954 and then joined H. Brooks Perring to form the Perring Insurance Agency in December 1954 handling fire and casualty insurance. In June 1964, Mars took over the agency and changed the name to DeGast Insurance Agency. He continued as a one man operation until July 1978. He then went to First Equitable Insurance Agency in August 1978 as a Personal Line Underwriter and Manager until June 1985.
In 1950, Mars joined the Civitan Club of Silver Spring. He had been active in the club ever since joining, serving as Sergeant of Arms, Treasurer, Vice President and President in 1958-59 and also additional years until 1990 when the club was disbanded. When there was Club work to be done, Mars could be found in the middle of the action. He held the Club’s Honor Key (1976), Distinguished Service Award and 37 years of perfect attendance chevron. He also served on the Executive Committee of the Chesapeake District Foundation for Mentally Retarded and Handicapped Children in 1959.
Marinus DeGast was a loving son, brother, husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather. He was a lover of many hobbies including gardening, stamp collecting, trains, wood working, bowling, marble shooting, photography and feeding the backyard animals. Gardening was by far his favorite past time and he worked hard to have the best soil in the neighborhood. Which of course, produced the best vegetables and the largest plants. Gardening with him is one of his granddaughter, Melanie’s, favorite memories.
Mars was a wonderful family man. He built his daughter, Gloria (Twink), her very own playhouse in the backyard. It had electricity, too! Years later he built his granddaughter, Melanie, her very own dollhouse. No electricity, but it had copper piping and each shingle was placed on individually with care. Many happy memories were made watching home movies on the silver screen in the basement and Sunday dinners at his home.
Mars was a man of many talents. He operated the movie house in the Navy, was a driving instructor, an insurance man and he dedicated over 35 years to the Civitan Club helping others in need. He spent many years taking care of his wife and at times his mother-in-law, in his home that he nicknamed Mars’ Nursing home.
Mars spent the last few years in a four generation home living with his family. He spent his time creating family photo albums, sorting stamps, watching golf, checking on his precious plants and flowers, and watching the birds. He enjoyed watching his family decorate for each holiday and looking at all of the ceramics that his wife, Dottie, had painted. Mars also enjoyed his grandson-in-law, Howard’s, cooking. He knew it was going to be good if Howard was making dinner that night.
Mars (PopPop) loved his great-grandchildren and loved hearing about their sporting events and activities. He would make gestures to Hunter to show him that he knew about soccer and basketball. Hunter was surprised when PopPop would even talk about different yo-yo terms. How could he know those? PopPop was Jordan’s biggest golf fan. He loved to hear how she played in a tournament and he always gave her the biggest reaction when she would come home from college. AJ was always good about giving high fives and hugs.
PopPop was sharp as a tack, strong as an ox, and had an opinion about everything. He was quite the character and all that knew him, loved him. He will be missed!
A memorial service will be held on Friday, November 22 at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, 4101 Norbeck Road, Rockville, MD. A viewing will be at 10:30 am and the service to follow at 11:00 am. Lunch will follow at Mama Lucia in Olney, MD.
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