Dr. Ernest B. Gatten Jr.
Published 1:38 pm Monday, June 1, 2015
FRANKLIN—Dr. Ernest Burdette Gatten Jr., 92, passed away on May 31, 2015, at Southampton Memorial Hospital just two weeks shy of his 93rd birthday.
Born on June 12, 1922, Dr. Gatten was the eldest son of the late Ernest Burdette Gatten Sr. and Nan Jean Walls Gatten. He was preceded in death by his wife of 52 years, Emily Greer Gatten, and siblings William H. Gatten and Geraldine Gatten Becker.
Dr. Gatten attended the University of Richmond prior to enlisting with the Army Air Corp in 1942. As part of the Greatest Generation, he was proud to have served his country during World War II by flying 32 missions in Europe, including the Normandy Invasion. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and Air Medal for completing his missions and three Oak Leaf Clusters in recognition of his combat achievement.
After the war, Dr. Gatten attended Chicago College of Optometry, and the day after graduation in 1947, he married Emily Greer Gatten. One year later, they relocated to Franklin, Virginia, where Dr. Gatten practiced optometry until his retirement in 1991.
Dr. Gatten was a member of Franklin Congregational Christian Church and served as past chairman of the Deacons’ Board.
He was also an active leader in the Franklin community. He was a founding member of the Franklin Chamber of Commerce and served on the first Franklin YMCA Board of Directors. Dr. Gatten was also appointed to the first Franklin school board where he served the community for 10 years. He actively supported the Franklin Lions Club and the Franklin Library Board.
Professionally, he served on the Virginia Opticians Board for 10 years, and was a past president of the Virginia Academy of Optometry and the Virginia Optometric Association.
Dr. Gatten was an accomplished water colorist, leaving a lasting legacy of beautiful works of art. He was instrumental in the formation of today’s Rawls Museum Arts organization and the construction of the existing art education building and gallery spaces located in Courtland.
Dr. Gatten is survived by his daughter, Caroline J. Gatten of Emporia, Virginia; sons, E. Burdette Gatten III (Joann) and Charles G. Gatten, both of Franklin; and two granddaughters, Gabrielle G. Gatten and Barclay B. Gatten. He is also remembered by a special niece, Rebecca Gatten Jester (Frank) of Franklin; their children, Meredith and William DeLuca; and a host of other extended family and friends.
The memorial service will be on Thursday, June 4, at 4 p.m. in Franklin Congregational Christian Church, 412 N. High St., Franklin, with the Rev. James H. Hyatt Jr officiating.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial donations be made to Franklin Congregational Christian Church or Rawls Museum Arts Inc., Courtland.
Wright Funeral Home is handling arrangements.