John Howard Gano – Captain, United States Navy

A retired Navy commander who saw service in three wars and who was instrumental in establishing the Fairfax Museum and Visitors Center, John Howard Gano, 81, died Jan. 19 at Luther Woods Convalescent Center in Hatboro, Pa., of pneumonia and Alzheimer's disease. He had been a member of Post 8469 since 1993, was a former adjutant and took part regularly in other Post activities before moving back to his native Pennsylvania in 2001. He and his wife Joan lived in Warrington, Pennsylvania.

A visitation is scheduled at Everly Funeral Home from 6 to 8 p.m., Feb. 20, with Post 8469 planning to conduct its tribute at 7 p.m. John's funeral will be at 9 a.m. Feb. 21 in the Old Chapel at Fort Myer, followed by burial in Arlington National Cemetery.

John was a graduate of the U. S. Naval Academy, class of 1943, after attending Northwestern University. On active duty he served on the USS Bullard, Isherwood, Massey, DeHaven and McNair. He was Alexandria Port Liaison Officer during the evacuation of American nationals from Egypt in November 1956, and participated in the Lebanon Crisis in 1958.

He served on the staff of the Commander, Middle East Forces quartered in Bahrain. Shore duty included assignments in London, England and Key West, Florida. He retired as commanding officer of the Explosive Ordinance Disposal Facility in Indian Head, Maryland.

Born April 3, 1921 in Pittsburgh and raised in Mansfield, Ohio, John and his family settled in Fairfax in 1973. He did internal security work for SWL, Inc., in Tysons Corner from 1967 to 1988. After retiring from SWL, he turned to volunteer service in support of his interest in American history, specifically the Civil War. Appointed to the board of Historic Fairfax City, Inc. in March 1989, he accepted the presidency in July of that year. He headed a fund raising campaign to turn the historic Fairfax Elementary School Annex into the Fairfax Museum and Visitors Center, which opened in July 1992. He worked with city planners to establish a state and national historic district and with the state to link the museum with the Virginia Visitors Bureau.

John also served on a bond task force, insuring the historical portion of the bond package protected the city's heritage. He also served on the Round Table, a group that worked for over two years to publish A City Traveling Through Time, a history of the city of Fairfax. He served as president of HFCI until early 1995 when, because of health problems, he stepped down but continued to serve on the board until moving back to Pennsylvania.

Besides being in Post 8469, he also belonged to the Society of the Cincinnati, New York State chapter, and the Mount Gulian Society, the USNA Alumni Association, and Naval Intelligence Professionals.

He is survived by his wife of 38 years Joan (Romanchik) Gano, his son David and wife Diana, and two grandchildren, Hannah and Rachel.

From a contemporary press report:

John Howard Gano, 81, a retired Navy Captain who did internal security work for SWL Inc. in Tysons Corner from 1967 to 1988 and was a former president of Historic Fairfax Inc., died January 19, 2003, at a nursing home in Hatboro, Pennsylvania. He had Alzheimer's disease and pneumonia.

Captain Gano was in the Navy from the early 1940s to 1967, when he retired as commanding officer of the explosive ordnance disposal facility in Indian Head, Maryland.

He served in the Pacific during World War II and helped evacuate American nationals from Egypt during the Suez crisis of 1956.

As a board member and president of Historic Fairfax, he played a key role in creating the Fairfax Museum and Visitors Center in 1992. The museum contains historic documents and other holdings, such as period clothing.

“There is so much history here that [residents] don't know about and understand,” he told The Washington Post. “What we're really looking for is the human interest in the things that happened . . . not just bald statistics.”

He moved from Fairfax to Warrington, Pennsylvania, in 2001.

He was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and grew up in Mansfield, Ohio. He was a Class of 1943 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy.

His marriage to Margaret Gano ended in divorce. A son from that marriage, Mike Gano, died in 1999.

Survivors include his wife of 38 years, Joan Romanchik Gano of Warrington; a son from his second marriage, David Gano of Warrington; and two grandchildren.


On Sunday, January 19, 2003 in Pennsylvania. He is survived by his loving wife of 38 years, Joan (Romanchik) Gano; his son, David and wife, Diana and two grandchildren, Hannah and Rachel. From an earlier marriage, he was preceded in death by a son, Mike, and survived by two children, Pamela and Scott and six grandchildren.

Services will be held on Friday, February 21, 2003 at 9 a.m. at Fort Myer Chapel. Interment Arlington National Cemetery with Full Military Honors. The family requests that in lieu of flowers, a contribution be made to the National Capital Area Region Alzheimer's Associaion, 11240 Waples Mill Rd., Suite 402, Fairfax, VA 22030.

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