Friday, November 11, 2016

Veterans Day 2016 and A Life Well Lived!

Wanda and Gus
50th Anniversary

Today is Veteran’s Day and I salute all of my friends and family who have bravely served our country.  I also want to especially remember my father-in-law Gus Gulyban who died 6 November 2016, just five days before his ninetieth birthday.

Gus was born in Martins Ferry, Belmont County, Ohio to Gus and Mary (Fendrick) Gulyban.  They were both Hungarian immigrants who braved a long sea voyage to come to the United States for a better life.

As Gus grew up, he watched his coal miner father go off to a dangerous job with a metal lunch box in hand.  On his father’s return home, Gus would watch his father go down to the basement and try to remove the coal dust before going to the kitchen for dinner.  Mary, his mother would remain home to raise the three children (Gus, Mary Elizabeth, and John) and prepare the meals.  She also would cook for the church when there were funerals and other activities.

Gus attended public schools in Martins Ferry and St Mary’s Catholic Church.  He never out ended the habit of kneeling beside his  bed to say his night prayers.  As soon as he finished high school, Gus joined the United States Navy for the duration of World War II. 

After training at Great Lakes, Gus was assigned to ships in the Pacific, serving on the USS Zebra and the USS Lindenwald from which he was discharged. After the navy, Gus settled in Chicago where he was employed by AT&T. While working the night shift at AT&T, Gus met the love of his life, Wanda Peterson, a single mother of two children, David and Patricia.   Gus and Wanda fell in love and married on 1 Dec 1949.

After several years in the city, Gus and Wanda moved to Wheaton, IL where they had purchased a house.  It was there that their daughter Susan was born in 1952.
The family continued to grow and thrive.  In 1956, just before David was to graduate from high school,  the family build another house in Wheaton, to make room for Wanda’s widowed mother.  This enabled Wanda to continue working for Illinois Bell while Gus continued working in Chicago, walking to and from the train station daily.

 Gus joined the Knights of Columbus at St Michael’s Church in Wheaton, achieving the rank of 4th Degree ( the patriotic arm) and becoming a member of the Color Corps.  Gus also volunteered as a counter of the Sunday collection.  This was a task he performed weekly until they moved to Florida in 1983.  Gus had retired from AT&T and after selling the house in Wheaton, they purchased a condo in St Petersburg, FL just a block from the beach.  Not one to sit around, Gus established a lawn care company which he named “WANGUS”.  He then proceeded to take care of the condo grounds as well as several other nearby properties.  He even had a vanity license plate “WANGUS”.  

In the 1990’s Wanda and Gus moved to a bigger condo in Clearwater, where they lived a quieter livfestyle.  That was to be their final move.  Wanda’s increasing health issues limited the traveling they could do.  When Wanda was required to move into an assisted living facility, Gus visited her every day at both lunch and dinner time.  Between times he would often do laundry or grocery shop.

Sadly, in 2010, Gus’ health required his move to assisted living as well.  Wanda and Gus were now in different wings of the same facility.  He still visited Wanda as often as he could until her death in January 2011.

This is the man my children knew as their grandfather.  He was cheerful, generous, patriotic, religious, loving, and honest!  I can’t imagine a better example for a child to emulate.  I am so proud to have known and loved him.