Laurence D. Gatzke

Laurence D. Gatzke, BSME, MD, F.A.C.S., 97, of Muscatine, passed away at home on Friday, July 22, 2022.

A private military burial for the immediate family will take place at Greenwood Cemetery on August 2, 2022. The family suggests that in lieu of flowers, monetary donations may be sent to the Ralph J. Wittich-Riley-Freers Funeral Home, 1931 Houser Street, Muscatine, IA 52761. The donations will be given to the Mayo Clinic in his name for continuing Cardiac and Cancer research programs. Online condolences may be made at

Dr. L.D. Gatzke was born on June 8, 1925, in Wilton, Iowa.  He was one of two sons of Mabel and Albert Kelley. He married Carol P. Sywassink on September 2, 1951, in Muscatine where they raised their family.

He served in the Marines where he learned to fly and became a Radio Navigator and Back-up Gunner.

He attended the University of Iowa, earning a degree in Mechanical Engineering.  He then began his medical training at the University of Iowa Medical School.

He continued his training in General Surgery at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota and earned the distinction as a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons. During his 40 plus year career he practiced medicine in Rochester, Minnesota, Sacramento, California, and finally in Muscatine, Iowa with Dr. George A. Sywassink.

He enjoyed flying his plane to attend medical seminars and ongoing surgical training at Mayo. Additionally, he earned an instrument rating to allow him to fly in poor weather conditions.

Those left to honor his memory include his two sons, Eric Gatzke and his wife, Yvonne, of Parker, Colorado, and Michael Gatzke of Muscatine.

He was preceded in death by a son, Stephen; and wife, Carol.