"We've always had cats and dogs; we did lab rescue for a long time," Cathy Read said, while sitting in her home in a quiet Mount Vernon neighborhood.
"We've always been animal lovers," she said. "As you get older, we were home more."
Mr. Read was one of 12 people killed by a gunman Monday at the Washington Navy Yard.
When Gerald Read wasn't busy at his job as a project manager in information assurance at the Navy Yard, he enjoyed walking the dogs, taking them to the dog park and training some of them in agility. A black lab, Rod, was his favorite. He was also a "Civil War buff" and enjoyed reading.
Born in a small town, Clearfield, Penn., Gerald met his future wife when he was in college and she was in her senior year of high school.
"I always thought he was good looking," Cathy Read recalled.
Gerald Read spent more than 25 years in the military, served in the military police and did a tour in Korea, his wife said. The two had a daughter, Jessica, and three grandchildren. They eventually settled down in Mount Vernon, where the couple lived for 18 years. He went on to work at the Navy Sea Systems Command, and at 58, had no thoughts of retiring yet, Cathy Read said.
"He loved his work," she said.
Cathy Read said she is on "autopilot" while she tries to process the news of her husband's death at Navy Yard. She never expected to hear the news, delivered to her around 9 p.m. Monday, that Read was among the victims.