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Pike County Illinois - WW I - George Vernie Gonterman - Biography

divider for new section George  Vernie  Gonterman

George Vernie "Red" Gonterman
Born: 05 June 1898
Died: 19 October 1975

Private, Infantry, U.S. Army Signal Corp. George joined the Army 9 Feb 1918, Hannibal, MO. He trained 6 weeks at Ellington Field, Houston, TX.; then transferred from Ellington Field in July 1918, to the 52nd Aero Squadron, Long Island, Garden City, NY. He shipped out to England with the American Expeditionary Force Aug 16, 1918. Gonterman served in France, Germany and other assignments until returning to the USA 01 Mar 1919*. He separated from the Service with an Honorable Discharge at Camp Grant , IL on 24 Mar 191.

*Final Payment Roll - 24 Mar 1919, Camp Grant, IL., indicated G. V. G. Arrived in US fr FS 3/1/19.

On George V. Gonterman's discharge document: Medals authorized to wear:
WSC per SO #5 2/5/19
Lorraine Cross SO #1 Hq A.S. 1/1/19

BIOGRAPHY

George Vernie Gonterman of Peeples Valley Arizona , who passed away October 19, 1975, was a man of many hobbies and interests.

When George was only 14 years of age he became a full fledged freighter driving a six hours team with two wagons. He, along with his father, George Allen Gonterman, hauled freight from Rifle, Colorado to Meeker, Colorado, a distance of 45 miles. The trip took two days and they stayed overnight at halfway at the government corrals (what is now Rio Blanco, Colorado). The freight loads consisted of all products not available at Meeker, as there were no railroads or other means of transport. On the return trip the freighters hauled any saleable produce or products that could be turned into ready cash for farmers or ranchers.

George learned early in life how to hunt, fish, trap, camp, swim, hike and to ride horseback. These pleasures were a part of the outdoorsman he became.

When the Gonterman family moved from Colorado to Illinois in 1916, there was scarcely any work and that summer George went to work in Kansas wheat fields. It was while he was in Kansas he received the sad news that his father had died, having fallen from a nine foot haystack breaking his neck and fracturing his skull; the fall being caused by sunstroke. There was no railroad at the place where George was working in Kansas, so he walked all night to catch a train home to Nebo, Illinois. When he arrived home he found his father had been buried the day before. George never recovered from the heartbreak of not getting to see his father again. His father's death meant it then fell upon George to face the responsibility of caring for a brother and three sisters, so he went to work on the railroad section gang at Nebo.

In 1918, George volunteered for military service in the U.S. Army Signal Corps; he was sent to Kelly Field, Houston, Texas, where he trained six weeks in the Air Corps. He was then sent to New York and immediately thereafter was sent to France and Germany where he was engaged in several battles.

On his return to the States, when the war was over, George returned to Nebo, Illinois, only to learn that his oldest sister had passed away (Ida died Oct. 23, 1918). After working on the dredge boat along the Mississippi River , he went to Colorado where he worked on a ranch for former friends. Then he went to Wyoming where he worked in a coal mine, lumber camp, sawmill and later in the pump house at Ft. Steele, Wyoming. During his wanderings, George was trying to erase from his memory his heartbreak and loneliness. It was during this time he enjoyed hunting (for big and small game), fishing and camping.

In 1938, on July 11, George married Verlie I. McGowan in Rawlins, Wyoming and they eventually moved to Portland, Oregon, where he tried to re-enlist in the military service of his country. Upon being told he was too old to enlist, George went to work in Portland shipyards. He worked in there until the dampness of the Oregon climate caused him to have asthma; in 1943, he and Verlie then moved to Glenwood Springs, Colorado. George worked at the Naval Hospital (Hotel Colorado) until World War II was over. [Note: In 1942, the Hotel Colorado (opened in 1893) was leased to the United States Navy for use as a hospital. The U.S. Naval Convalescent Hospital was commissioned on July 5, 1943 and served over 6,500 patients by the end of 1945. The hospital was decommissioned in 1946.] George worked in the hospital/hotel boiler room and was general maintenance man for several years.

George purchased property on 3-Mile Creek (County Rd. 127) just out of Glenwood Springs, and made his home there for many years, until July 1974, when he and Verlie moved to Peeples Valley, Arizona. Their home in Glenwood Springs was a beautiful place, made so by George's untiring effort. The property was covered with beautiful flowers, trees and shrubs planted and maintained by George. He also placed bird feeders for humming birds near a picture widow in the room he built onto the mobile home. The feeders were over a large window box filled with petunias. Here the little birds came by the dozens, often perching on his fingers to feed. The Gonterman home was a meeting place for many friends, neighbors and family.

During the fishing season, George was a guide for many fishermen from the Denver area. He was also an ardent fisherman in his own right, winning many fishing contests and beautiful and useful gifts from a Denver Dave Cook's sporting goods store.

Over his years, George learned many trades, such as carpentry, plumbing, masonry, etc. In fact, he learned everything necessary to do all the planning and building of a comfortable home on 3-Mile Creek. His one aim in life was to beautify what ever he came in contact with. He loved birds, flowers and animals. He was often searching for and finding interesting pieces of twisted cedar, which he fashioned into beautiful lamps.

This biography of George Vernie Gonterman was written by his sister Effie Jaramillo of El Dorado Springs, Missouri, in an effort to show to all who read, that the man, George Gonterman, should have been allowed to live out his life to its entirety. George was Effie's last living relative (October 1975) and she wrote, "He will be sadly missed as I loved him very much."
Contributed by Dennis McGowan

George  Vernie  Gonterman Headstone
Buried at Mountain View Cemetery - Prescott, Yavapai Co, AZ 86301
Photos and Information contributed by Dennis McGowan
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