Gus grew up in Martins Ferry attending the local schools and going to church at St Mary’s Catholic Church with his sister Mary Elizabeth and brother John. An older sister Irene had died at three months of age.
In 1940 Gus was thirteen years old and had completed the seventh grade.
By 1945 Gus had joined the Navy and in September of 1945 was serving on the Zebra. His rate was Fireman 2nd class and also Electrician’s Mate. The Zebra was originally launched in Oct 1943 as SS Matthew under a Maritime Commission Contract. As a freighter traveling the waters of the South Pacific where she was heavily damaged by a Japanese torpedo. While she was awaiting repair at Espiritu Santo in the New Hebrides as naval officer recognized her potential for service as a net cargo ship. She was commissioned as such 27 Feb 1944. During that summer the ship visited Tongatapu; Bora Bora; Tutuila and Upolu, Samoa; and Funafuti. She arrived at Pearl Harbor 15 Dec 1945 where she waited for her next mission which would be to Iwo Jima. She left for Iwo Jima on 28 February and remained there until 11 April when she returned to California. The ship returned to Pearl Harbor on 8 September 1945 with Gus aboard and left 12 days later for the Marshall Islands, Iwo Jima, and Saipan. She departed Saipan on 15 Nov and returned to the United States arriving at the Panama Canal Zone on Dec 31, 1945. She arrived at Norfolk, Virginia on 8 January and was decommissioned on 21 January 1946. Gus was still on the Zebra at that time as reported by Navy muster rolls for the Zebra.[i]
After leaving the Zebra in Jan 1946, Gus served aboard the Lindenwald, a dock landing ship, with missions in Okinawa and the Phillipines. Muster rolls show that Gus served on the Lindenwald February, March, April, May, and until the 24th June 1946 when the ship left New Orleans for Bremerhaven. .[ii]
After Gus left the Navy in 1946 he decided to stay in Chicago where he became comfortable while he was training at the Great Lakes Naval Station. For a while he worked at the Walgreens Drug Store on State Street. At the time he was living on LaVergn Street on the West Side of Chicago.
Around 1947 he was hired by AT&T and began working at their Canal Street office. Working the night shift he met Wanda Peterson and a friendship developed. Wanda and Gus were married on 2 Dec 1949.
At Gus’ sugestion Wanda and her children, David and Patti, were baptized in the Catholic Church and invoking the Pauline Privilege their marriage was blessed in the Catholic Church. David and Patti made their First Communion on 6 May 1951.
After the birth of their daughter Susan Margaret, Wanda and Gus purchased a home in suburban Wheaton. In 1956 Gus and Wanda sold their original home and built a new home at 1111 N Main St where they became members of St Mark Parish. Gus was active in the parish as an usher at Sunday Mass and also a counter of the money collected during the Masses. He joined the Knights of Columbus and became a member of the 4th degree which is the patriotic arm of the Knights of Columbus. He was also a member of the Color Corps. You’ve seen them with their capes, swords, and chapeaux at parades and other functions. With all this going on Gus remained a loyal AT&T employee even reaching management status.
In 1982, Gus retired from AT&T, the house on Main St was sold and the move to St Pete Beach was completed. Once retired, Gus began a new life by establishing his own business “Wangus”, a combination of Wanda and Gus. Wangus was a lawn care and building maintenance company and Gus was busy for several hours a day.
Over the years Gus had several other hobbies. He was an avid stamp collector and in the 70s he began making candles. He actually took orders for and sold his candles. One year, for Christmas, the table was set with star shaped candles at each place with each person’s name and the year inscribed on it. I know that my family used their candles every Christmas for many years.[iii]
Gus is currently living in well deserved retirement in Florida and I sincerely hope enjoying himself.