Obituary: John Gatt, Volunteer With a Heart Of Gold

A 40-year member of Knights of Columbus, John Gatt was never one to be in the spotlight. The outstanding volunteer and exquisite chef passed away on April 11. – Photo by Terry Miller / Beacon Media News

Dec. 20 1932–April 11, 2020

John Joseph Gatt passed away April 11, 2020 with his family by his side.

When compiling information for this notice, I was struck by the number of people who said John was the catalyst in Knights of Columbus to start anything that would benefit the Monrovia community.

He was born Dec. 20, 1932 to George Gatt and Catherine Barbara in Vittorriosa Malta. He had one sister and two brothers and was the second oldest child. He served in the British Navy as a seaman for 16 years and enjoyed cliff diving into the Mediterranean Sea. He was married to his beloved wife, Carmen, for 64 years and immigrated to the United States with his wife and two children with the hope of making a better life for his family.

As a young couple, he and Carmen purchased a home in Monrovia while sending his kids to Immaculate Conception Church School. Carmen would walk them there daily.

After his retirement he joined the Knights of Columbus, Chapter 1242 in Monrovia on Oct. 1, 1980. He had a flare for cooking, something he had done in the service, and worked along other brothers in various charitable ventures.

John soon took over the cooking duties and loved to create meals as a way to bring others together under one roof. He cooked for church picnics, festivals, and gatherings of anywhere from 10-300 people. John never shied away from large crowds and always found food and drinks when more people would show up, according to David Villegas, past grand knight #1242.

As a Monrovia Knight of Columbus, John spearheaded many events with his Brothers including efforts at the Monrovia Firefighters’ Breakfast during Monrovia Days and pulling in his fellow Knights to man the grills to mingle with those at the event.

He made 150-200 spaghetti dinners to fundraise for the Carmelite Sisters Novitiate program for tuition and other costs. He cooked breakfasts for local Cub Pack 66 each December before they went out and distributed Knights Christmas Baskets to local families in need. Before the stay-at-home orders came down due to COVID-19 John was in the midst of one the Knights’ most attended Lenten Friday Fish Fry’s, cooking over 200 meals each Friday prior to the quarantines. 

John’s passion was assisting students at Immaculate Conception School continuing their Catholic education into high school. Each fall and through the spring John would manage to serve 200 breakfasts after Sunday masses in the church hall to raise money for scholarships (up to $500 each). He enjoyed attending the graduation ceremonies to award the scholarships. Three years ago the council renamed the scholarship in his honor; the John Gatt Knights of Columbus Scholarship is responsible for over $50,000 in scholarships over the last 25-30 years. This is what he was most proud of.  

He dedicated himself to others in every aspect of the word. His outreach for those in need and countless acts of charity make him stand tall above most but you’d never know it if you ever talked to this very humble man.

He worked as a machine operator at a chemical plant for 26 years and was committed to providing his four children with a private catholic education. Once retired, he immediately became active with the Knights of Columbus at Immaculate Conception Church and volunteered his time. He became well known in the community and with the fire and police departments, and touched the lives of many. He was a devoted catholic and attended church every Sunday while volunteering as an usher. John was a devoted husband and father and leaves behind his wife Carmen, children Marie, Doreen, George, and John, eight grandchildren, four great-grandchildren, his sister Mary, and brothers Larry and Joseph. John will be buried at Resurrection Cemetery. A mass and celebration of life will be held at a later date.

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