Gary Reiswig was born in the Texas Panhandle near the end of the Dust Bowl, and grew up on a farm across the border in Oklahoma. When he was nine, his family joined a fundamentalist Christian church, a life-altering decision for him.
At eighteen, Gary married his high school sweetheart, and began training for the ministry. At age twenty-five, he was the father of three children and the minister of a large congregation in central Illinois. Having nourished an interest in writing since elementary school, he published articles in religious publications, and hoped, someday, to write books.
As a child, Gary had taken his grandfather for walks. His grandfather no longer worked because his behavior had grown odd and erratic following an accident at a railroad crossing that killed his wife, Gary's grandmother. Because caring for Granddad was a shared responsibility, it was a relief to the family when Granddad died.
As a teenager, Gary observed changes in his father that made him realize his dad was like his granddad. Gary was, sometimes, afraid of his father. A few years later, his family was told his father, age fifty-one, had Alzheimer's disease, and that the disease was, in all likelihood, genetic. His father died six years later.
When he was thirty, Gary left the ministry, earned a PhD, and pulled away from his fundamentalist upbringing. He worked as an educator and a city planner in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, publishing articles in journals appropriate to his work.
Nearing forty, the approximate age he had observed the first changes in his father, Gary and his wife purchased an inn in East Hampton, New York, so they could be self employed in case Alzheimer's disease struck. Over the course of twenty-five years, Gary and his wife owned and operated two different hotels in East Hampton. In 1993, Simon & Schuster published his first novel, Water Boy.
After Gary's sister and brother both died in their fifties with early onset Alzheimer's, he began collecting information for a book about the family's tragic genetic heritage and how the family has dealt with the disease. THE THOUSAND MILE STARE: One Family’s Journey through the Science and Struggle of Alzheimer’s, is the result of years of thought, conversation, and data collecting.
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