In Memory of




Obituary for Edward J. Gleason

CDR Edward J. Gleason, USCG ret.

Edward J. Gleason, age 67, from Muskego, Wisconsin, was welcomed into heaven on December 13 after a heroic 14-year battle with cancer. He is survived by his loving, devoted wife and best friend, Paula, of 45 years. He also leaves behind his three lovely daughters, Kelly (Tom) Dummer, Jill (Dave) Nielsen and Carrie (Justin) Munzel and his eight incredible grandchildren: Ryan, Natalie, Jake, Allie, Zach, Drew, Matthew and Ben. He is also survived by two brothers, Paul (Sue) Gleason and Tom (Diane) Gleason, three sisters, Diana (Jim) Venter, Karen Cornell and Linda (Dennis) Montross, and many friends and colleagues. He is preceded in death by his parents, John and Irene Gleason, and his brother, Jim. 

Ed was born on January 1, 1955, to a hard-working farming family. He developed his strength and determination from his time spent on the family farm in Weedsport, New York.

After graduating from the University of New York at Albany in 1977 with a B.S. in Biology, he became a commissioned officer in the United States Coast Guard. During his 22 years of honorable service, he had many notable achievements and exciting opportunities.

One of his first assignments was to the polar icebreaker USCGC Northwind, which conducted Arctic operations off the coast of Greenland. He received an MBA from NYU in 1986. Ed was then stationed in Boston, Massachusetts. As Chief of the Budget Branch of the First Coast Guard District in Boston, he developed the asset-based budget model now used throughout the United States Coast Guard. He served as the Military Aide to the U.S. Secretary of Transportation in Washington D.C. from 1994-1996, where he was instrumental in laying the groundwork for the Aviation Disaster Family Assistance Act of 1996. This greatly strengthened the airlines’ response to the families of aviation disasters. He retired from the Coast Guard as Commander of Coast Guard Group Milwaukee in 1999 where he commanded operations on the western half of Lake Michigan from southern Chicago to Washington Island.

Upon his retirement from the United States Coast Guard, he was appointed by Governor Tommy Thompson as the Administrator of Wisconsin Emergency Management. He was reappointed by Governors McCallum and Doyle and served until September 2004.

Following September 11, 2001, Ed was named co-chair of the Governor's Task Force on Terrorism Preparedness and was tasked to develop a strategic blueprint to guide Wisconsin. Under Governor McCallum, he served as Wisconsin's first Homeland Security Advisor. After that, Ed served as the first U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Protective Security Advisor for Wisconsin and DHS's Office of Infrastructure Protection Regional Director for Federal Region V. His government service culminated with the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), where he served as the first CISA Region 5 Chief of Protective Security.

Even though Ed’s professional career brought him so much pride, his greatest accomplishment in his life was his family and his greatest love was time spent with them. He lived for hiking and biking adventures with his children and grandchildren and kayaking with his wife. He joyfully attended his grandchildren’s sporting events and enjoyed hosting the annual Thanksgiving Day football game. He loved hearing about the academic accomplishments and watching the athletic achievements of all eight of his grandchildren. To say that he was a proud father and grandfather is an understatement.

The family would like to issue a heartfelt thank you to our family doctor, Dr. Dudor, the Infectious Disease Specialists of Southeastern Wisconsin, Aurora Otolaryngology and Aurora at Home Hospice Care. They’ve provided endless care and kindness to Ed. A special thank you to his sister, Diana, who has been a tremendous support during this time.

Ed will be missed beyond measure. In lieu of flowers, we would like for you to ask yourself, “W.W.E.D. - What Would Ed Do?” Take a hike. Go for a jog. Seek adventure. Read a book. Make the most of your day, because that’s what he always did.

Visitation will be held on Wednesday, December 28 from 4:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. at Hartson Funeral Home at 11111 West Janesville Road in Hales Corners, WI. On Thursday, December 29, there will be a short visitation from 9:00 a.m. - 9:45 a.m. at St. Leonard's Catholic Church in Muskego, WI, followed by a funeral mass at 10:00 a.m. with full military honors.