William Francis Gasch, 96, a former owner-operator of Gasch's Funeral Home in Hyattsville who was a past member of the board of the Maryland State Funeral Directors Association, died Nov. 3 at Anne Arundel Medical Center. He lived in Annapolis.

He died of acalculous cholecystitis, a gall bladder ailment. He had undergone successful treatment for lymphoma in 1998.

As a teenager, he began working in the funeral home his grandfather had founded in 1858. His early jobs included caring for the horses that pulled the hearses of those days--white horses for women's funerals and black horses for men.

Mr. Gasch became a licensed funeral director in his early twenties and operated the funeral home until selling it to family members in 1977.

He had served on the board of directors of Citizens Bank of Maryland for a half-century. He was a past chief and life member of the Bladensburg Fire Department.

Mr. Gasch, who lived in Hyattsville for the first 77 years of his life, was a 1923 graduate of Hyattsville High School, where he ran track and played baseball. He began his work career with Dudrow's Drugstore in Hyattsville in 1917.

He was a 50-year member of the Masons and the Odd Fellows. He was a 32nd-degree Scottish Rite Mason who was a member of Almas Temple and the Tall Cedars of Lebanon. He also had been a member of Elks Lodge No. 1778 of Riverdale and of the Kiwanis.

Mr. Gasch was a member of St. Mary's Catholic Church in Annapolis.

His hobbies included fishing, sculpting and building birdhouses and bird feeders.

His first wife, Ruth E. Gasch, whom he married in 1928, died in 1979.

Survivors include his wife, the former Helen Marx Stokes, whom he married in 1985, and a son from his first marriage, William E. Gasch, both of Annapolis; two grandchildren; and a great-grandson.