Written by Bebe Faas Rice
New residents Paul and Nancy Gesswein have brought romance to Building 5. Married for barely one-and-a-half-years, they come to us from nearby Great Falls, having met while both were attending a local watercolor painting workshop. They looked across the room over their paint pots, saw each other — and the dye was cast. (Forgive the play on words. I couldn't resist.)
However, one wedding was not enough for this pair. They had two ceremonies: the first in San Antonio so that Paul's sister and extended family could participate. The second took place in this area to accommodate, as Paul puts it, the East Coast crowd. A good time was had by all. Twice!
Nancy grew up a Navy junior. Her father was a Naval Academy graduate, class of '36, and her childhood was spent living not only on various bases in this country but also in London where she was the only American in attendance at Dame Henrietta Barnett's School for Girls. Nancy says she distinguished herself by her broad southern accent...which no one could understand.
Nancy attended Texas Tech University, marrying in her sophomore year. Five years later she found herself a widow with two sons. Once the boys were in school, she launched her career in the field of education, teaching in Fairfax County as well as studying for and receiving a master's degree (and later a doctorate) in order to become a reading specialist. After that, she took a sabbatical to Ohio State University where she was trained in the Reading Recovery Program, a research-based, short-term intervention of one-on-one teaching for the lowest achieving first graders. The program is still successfully used in Fairfax County.
Paul was born in Brooklyn, but the family moved first to Rye, NY, then to Westport, CT. As a student at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA, Paul says he decided that he and chemistry were not friends, so he enlisted in the Marine Corps.
After Parris Island, he was sent to the Infantry Training Regiment at Camp Geiger, NC, where he took the test for admission to the Naval Academy, was accepted and graduated in the class of '61. He went into the Navy because, he said, "I discovered that I was, at heart, a true sailor. I'd always loved boats and sailing, and even built a couple of sailboats during my career."
Paul had two Vietnam tours: one as a navigator for the USS Cleveland (LPD-7), and the second as a senior advisor to the Vietnamese Brown Water Navy. After Vietnam he served on several Navy staffs, making multiple Mediterranean and Caribbean deployments, and wound up his military career with two information technology tours, one in Germany and one in Hawaii where he also received his master's degree in systems technology.
Upon retirement, he spent two years in Flensburg, Germany, working for the German Navy, followed by two years in Stuttgart at Headquarters, U.S. European Command. After returning to the U.S., he worked for GE Spacenet in McLean, teaching satellite communications throughout the world in Europe, China, Indonesia, India, Argentina, and Mexico.
Along the way, he took up watercolor painting, which led him to the fateful art class where he met Nancy. Together, Paul and Nancy enjoy the love and support of the substantial families they brought to their marriage: 7 children, 15 grandchildren, and 2 great-grandchildren.
Welcome, Nancy and Paul, to Falcons Landing!