October 22, 2018
AUGUSTINE, FL – On Monday, October 22nd at 8:30pm, Christopher T. Kastner passed peacefully at the Healthcare Center at Glenmoor Life Care Resort Community in St. Augustine, Florida where he had been a resident since 2015. A graveside service will be held at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, November 3rd at Virginia Memorial Park in Forest, Virginia.
Those left to mourn include his daughter Judith Elaine Kastner, Greensboro, NC, son John Christopher Kastner, Lynchburg, VA, grandchildren Elizabeth Kristine Kastner and John Christopher Kastner, Jr., Lynchburg, VA and former daughter-in-law Sharon Di Vigili Kastner, Lynchburg, VA, as well as many friends worldwide. He is predeceased by his parents, aunt Edith Albritton and wife Elaine Bartlett Kastner.
Chris was born in Memphis, TN on November 7, 1925 to parents Christopher T. Kastner, Sr. and Hilda Albritton Kastner. Chris was an only child and attended public school. He was accepted to Yale University in Hartford, CT at the age of 17 in May 1943. He was a member of the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity and Tau Beta Pi, an honorary engineering society. Upon graduation in February 1946, Ensign Kastner received his US Naval Reserve commission and his Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering.
While at Yale in February 1945, he was invited at the last minute to fill in for a friend and attend a dance. He passed up tickets to a professional basketball game to attend the Annual Katherine Gibbs Dance in New York City. The men met their dates (Chris’ was a blind date) at the Information Booth in Grand Central Station. The blind date turned into a lifetime with Elaine Marquerite Bartlett. They were engaged in March 1946 and married in New York City at the Little Church Around the Corner on May 10th, 1947. The Kastners honeymooned in Savannah, GA and Chris never saw a professional basketball game for the rest of his life.
In July 1946 after Yale, he was immediately accepted into the General Electric V-12 Engineering Test Program with assignments in Pittsfield and Lynn, MA, and Schenectady, NY. Elaine joined him and they settled in Pittsfield in July 1947. In 1951, they built their first home for $5000 on Partridge Road. Between 1947 and 1961, Chris and Elaine moved five time between Pittsfield, Rome, GA, and Hickory, NC while Chris moved up the corporate ladder in Sales and Marketing. While in Pittsfield, Chris and Elaine adopted their first child Judith Elaine in September 1957 (born in August).
At the end of the 1950s, General Electric was sued by the United States for breaking the Anti-Trust laws. Chris was a defendant and testified in the trial. Although, he was fired from General Electric for his part in the conspiracy, he had many friends who were reprimanded, demoted or spent time in jail. Chris left GE in 1961.
In late July 1961, Chris started work in Berwyn, PA with the Baldwin-Lima-Hamilton Corporation where in October he became the President of the joint company of BLH and Industrial Process Engineers Incorporated named Transistel. In November 1961, Chris and Elaine adopted their second child John Christopher (born in August) from Pittsfield, MA; the full family moved to Berwyn in 1962.
In August 1963, the Kastner family with pets in tow drove their Chevy station wagon to their new home in Dallas, TX, where Chris was named the Assistant to the Vice President of Dresser Industries followed by promotions to Manager of Security and then to President and General Manager. Just a few months after they arrived, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in downtown Dallas on November 22nd. In September 1967, Chris re-joined General Electric in the position of General Manager of the Electronics Components/Tube Department in Owensboro, KY.
In 1970, Chris was presented with a career-changing opportunity to become the Acting and then permanent General Manager of Cogenel in Milan, Italy, a construction division of GE. Chris spent most of his time traveling in South America and reporting to the headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. The family had a grand time learning Italian, traveling in Europe, skiing in the Alps and soaking up their world experience.
In August 1973, the Kastners moved to Lynchburg, VA after a brief stay in Dallas waiting for Chris’ next appointment. He was named a GE Vice President and General Manager of the Communications Systems Business Division. In 1979, Chris was named one of only five Sector Executive Vice Presidents for General Electric supervising the Technical Systems Materials Division. He began commuting weekly to his new office in Hartford, CT while his family stayed in Lynchburg. John “Jack” Welch was named President and CEO of GE on January 1, 1981; Chris retired at age 55 on September 1st, 1981 and returned to his newly built home in Lynchburg.
Chris had become proficient at financial planning during his time at GE and was making individual and family financial plans for many of his friends. In 1978, he assisted his financial advisor Clunet Pettyjohn to open the Pettyjohn Company in Lynchburg, VA. It is still operating successfully today as Pettyjohn, Wood, White, Inc. To perfect his golf game and to have the chance to build yet Another House, Chris and Elaine moved to Ponte Vedra Beach, FL to The Plantation in 1990. Their retirement was full of cruises and visits with friends, golf and bridge games, enjoying their children and grandchildren, buying and learning to operate a speedboat, eating out and being with each other.
In 2007, Chris and Elaine moved to Glenmoor at the World Golf Village in St. Augustine, FL. They enjoyed making new friends, having their meals in the main dining room and meeting all the young wait staff, playing bridge and going to Ponte Vedra for dinners and shopping. In 2009, Elaine moved to the Healthcare Center with dementia and passed away in September 2013. Chris visited Elaine faithfully every morning and afternoon during her stay. Chris moved into the Healthcare Center in 2015 where he comfortably spent his last days. The family wishes to thank the superb staff of administrators and caregivers at Glenmoor that have been so faithful and caring to both Chris and Elaine.
The family is being assisted by St. Johns Funeral Home of St. Augustine, FL. Chris will be buried alongside his mother and wife at Virginia Memorial Park in Forest, VA. The family suggests instead of flowers to donate to Amazement Square in Lynchburg, VA or Preservation Greensboro in Greensboro, NC in memory of Christopher Kastner or to a charity of your choice.
Tharp Funeral Home & Crematory, Lynchburg, is assisting the family.