Gary Leonard Wiles, age 84, passed away on May 16, 2020 with his wife of sixty years, Anne, by his side at a hospital near their home in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Gary was born to Dorothy and Robert Tracy Wiles in Fullerton. Following Dorothy’s death when he was just four years old, his father remarried and Gary grew up with his stepmother, Nina, and four brothers. He attended Fullerton High School, Fullerton Junior College, and San Jose State University, playing water polo at all three.
Gary met the love of his life, Anne Marie Karcher, while working on cars at a friend’s house. Not realizing that Anne was still nearby, he asked his friend about “that cute girl.” They were married in 1960 at St. Boniface Catholic Church in Anaheim. His love for Anne was steadfast, and he would often remind his children how beautiful their mother is and how lucky he was. Throughout the years, close ties with friends from their early days in Orange County continued to be a source of happiness.
Gary’s strong work ethic was instilled at the young age of 13, when he worked picking oranges under the hot California sun. Following two years’ service in the Army, Gary worked different jobs until 1960, when he started his career in the restaurant industry at a Carl’s Jr. in Anaheim. He worked his way up from cook to Senior Executive Vice President of Operations and Marketing with Carl Karcher Enterprises, and then became one of its first franchisees in 1984. During his years as an entrepreneur, Gary was a franchise owner of Carl’s Jr. and Wingstop restaurants in California, New Mexico, Oregon, and Washington. He enjoyed working with two of his sons in the family business. He loved visiting the restaurants, connecting with employees, and greeting guests.
Gary had a lifelong passion to serve and gave of his time and treasure to organizations including Lions, Rotary, New Mexico Restaurant Assoc., National Restaurant Assoc., NRA, St. Boniface Parish Council, Mission San Juan Capistrano Parish Council, and his children’s athletic booster clubs, taking on the job of one-man snack/hot dog vendor for Capo Valley basketball.
Gary loved history. Whether tent camping by car or traveling by air, trips with his family were an education in love and pride for our beautiful country. After raising their children in Anaheim and San Juan Capistrano, Gary and Anne moved to Oregon, where he enjoyed living the country life on his Star Wish Farm. They moved to his final home in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in 2007. Wherever he lived, he grew fruit trees and especially loved roses.
If you asked Gary how he was doing, he would often reply, “It’s the best day of my life!”
His love for life was most apparent when he sang to his family. He seemed to have an endless supply of oldies and country songs up his sleeve. Gary always made it known that he wanted Louis Armstrong’s What a Wonderful World to be played at his funeral. “I see friends shaking hands saying how do you do, they’re really saying I love you.” That was Gary.
Gary will be truly missed by family and friends. He leaves his wife, Anne, and children, Laura (Bill) Mooney, Scott (Tami), Jennifer (Terry) Keenen, Brett (Tammy), Joshua (Kim (predeceased)), Cassandra (Chris) Nishti, and Blaine (Amanda), 24 grandchildren and 9 great-grandchildren. Gary was preceded in death by his son, Beckett.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a private funeral Mass will be celebrated at Saint Vincent De Paul Catholic Church in Huntington Beach and burial at Holy Sepulcher Cemetery in Orange, California. Memorial contributions may be made to Mercy House, designated to Regina House. Online: www.mercyhouse.net or by mail: PO Box 1905, Santa Ana, CA 92702
To plant a tree in memory of Gary Wiles, please visit our tribute store.