Friday, October 14, 2011


In 1900 Deeth, Nevada, Gustave Harold Vogel was born to immigrant parents.  His father, Gustave Adolphus Vogel was German, his mother was an Irish McMullen.  Less than a year after giving birth, his mother died.  His father died in his arms on the range (presumably from a heart attack) when he was only eight years old.

Gus in 1900

He was left in the care of his mother's sister and her husband.  Gus had nothing but praise for his aunt Mattie, who was secretary for a congressman and who got him an appointment to West Point Military Academy, from which he was graduated in 1920 at the close of World War I.


Gus in His Twenties

He began his military career in San Francisco, where he brought his new bride in 1928.  They were for a time in the Phillipines before the beginning of World War II.  During the war, he distinguished himself wining medals from several countries for his efforts.

On the left, General Joseph T. McNarney, Deputy Supreme Allied Commander, MTO, presents him the Legion of Merit for meritorious achievement in coordinating all petroleum activities in this theater.  On the right Field Marshall Sir Harold Alexander, Supreme Allied Commander, MTO, presents him with The Order of the British Empire for meritorious achievement in coordinating the same.

He was Commanding Officer of Atlanta General Depot in Georgia and from there went to Fort Monroe, Virginia.

Portrait from Time in Georgia

Gus was in his fifties when he was retired from Fort Monroe and transitioned from Brigadier General to gentleman farmer.  From all  accounts it was a less than smooth transformation.  I didn't meet him until he was in his sixties and had mellowed.  My own father was unenthusiastic about his father role and having an only daughter left him unmotivated to parent.  I didn't see much of him after he and my mother divorced.  Gus was strangely defensive of me toward my father and even challenged him to take a more significant role in my life.  This in spite of all the clashes he (Gus) and I had.

Gus, the Gentleman Farmer

I suppose Gus had his own parenting issues, career usually trumping all else.  His wife had four years of total responsibility while he was away in the war.  My husband never laid eyes on his father until he was almost five years old.

He gave solid advice on finances and seemed to thrive on tedious details.  Whether or not we took his advice, we always sought it.  He loved the grandchildren and teared up quite easily.  He had a big heart.  I miss him.

Gus and Baby Sis Pick Daffodils in 1986


  1. Field Marshall Alexander is presenting him with the Order of the British Empire for coordinating petroleum activities. I goofed. Sorry Gus.

  2. I could easily be mistaken here and, if so, please forgive me, but did you name your guard-goose after your illustrious ancestor? If you did, however, does the Queen of England know you named a goose after an OBE?

    Kay, Alberta, Canada
    An Unfittie’s Guide to Adventurous Travel

  3. We held a contest to name our beloved goose, CBW did. That name won, and I was the judge. It was too wonderfully accurate a name and the Queen will never know from me. However the human Gus was spelled with an "e" at the end. Just a technicality, but I feel exonerated!

    Anyway they are both fondly remembered by me.

  4. Wow. Such a different era, no? My grandfather was a prisoner of the Japanese in the Philippines, and for all those years, my grandmother held down the fort here, and got both my father and uncle into West Point. Wonder who could do that today? Probably their progeny.....

  5. Terrific bio on Gus. He and Mary were fantastic people and grand parents, and their place was always synonymous with fun when we visited there in the summers!

    Dan V.