Gus N. Guggenheim, 92, died in the arms of a loving family at the V.A. Medical Center in Asheville, N.C., at 3 p.m., Thursday, August 15, 2019.
Born July 9, 1927, in Savannah, Georgia, Gus was the son of Swiss immigrants Gustav and Anna Clara Guggenheim. He raised and sold chickens to support his family during the early years of World War II. In 1944, at the age of 17, the United States Army accepted him into an educational program at Virginia Tech. He entered active duty in the Army July 30, 1945, at Camp Claiborne, Louisiana, and served in the Ship’s Complement Unit on several vessels of the U.S. Army Transport (USAT), especially the Sea Cat, for a total of 162 days at sea in the Pacific Ocean between March 16 and November 23, 1946, supervising the ship’s newspaper, conducting athletic events, organizing deck shows, operating the P.A. system and movie projector. He told thousands of homebound American troops – and on one trip, their wives – what to expect during 14 voyages from ports in Japan, Korea, the Philippines, Guam, Australia, Hawaii, to San Francisco. (Not surprisingly, he served as a volunteer for many years in the V.A. Medical Center in Asheville, where he was cared for with the greatest kindness and respect when he died.)
Shortly after his military discharge on December 16, 1946, Gus returned to Birmingham, Alabama, where he resumed civilian life. His first stop was the Social Security Office. It was there that Elouise Hays greeted him and typed his application for a Social Security card. Both smitten at first sight, they dated and were married June 5, 1948, surrounded by family including Elouise’s parents, William Monroe and Ellie Vaughn Hays, on the porch of the Methodist minister in Warrior, Alabama.
With Elouise’s earnings and a family gift from her mother Ellie, they bought a modest trailer in Auburn, Alabama, where Gus studied textile engineering. Gus graduated from Auburn University in 1950, an experience they both enjoyed together – especially football games, and especially when Auburn beat ‘Bama.
Gus and Elouise provided for, and inspired, a large extended family that began with the births of three sons between 1950 and 1953 (and many dogs, especially Skippy and Rocky, and Mama Cat).
In 1959, Gus and Elouise raised their three boys in a new subdivision south of Charlotte, North Carolina. Since no community amenities yet existed, they co-founded Starclaire Pop Warner football, Cub Pack 83 and Boy Scout Troop 83, Starclaire Swimming Pool, joined St. Andrews Methodist Church and led the building of a new sanctuary under the leadership of the Rev. Bill Butler.
During the 1960s, Gus left home on Monday and returned on Thursday to work throughout the South as a quality control expert in textile mills, especially those operated by J.P. Stevens & Co.. He wrote extensively about machine process control in greige mills for Textile Bulletin, Textile World, and many other publications. Gus founded Quality Programming in 1960, and with his employees, consulted, audited and taught engineers in more than 20 textile mills in seven southern states for a dozen years. In 1968, he wrote and published The How To of Carding and Spinning Quality Control. In 1982, Salem Press published his book, Protocol for Productivity—A Blueprint for the Survival of the American Textile Industry, which anticipated computer automation of industrial processes and became an industry standard throughout the textile industry. Cannon Mills provided 750 copies to managers at every level of its company.
During the 1970s, he managed 10 different textile mills, including the largest one in America, Bibb Manufacturing in Columbus, Georgia, and the oldest, Rocky Mount Mills, in North Carolina. The president of J.P. Stevens, Marvin Crowe, hired Gus as corporate director of process control, a position he held through the 1980s until 1988 when he and Elouise settled in Saluda, North Carolina, and he wrapped up his career as mill manager of J.P. Stevens’ Tuxedo, North Carolina, plant. Ironically, the Tuxedo plant was his first consulting client, in 1960.
During retirement, Gus and Elouise bought and sold land and timber in western North Carolina, traveled throughout the United States, and pursued a variety of arts and crafts, which they sold at fairs throughout the mountains. Gus was a traditional broom maker, a master craftsman who wove intricate designs of all sizes and shapes with hand-hewn woods from the Appalachian Mountains. He also wove rugs, crafted gourds, and with Elouise made toys and crafts for their four grandchildren, which have now been passed down to their seven great-grandchildren.
Survivors include wife Elouise; sons, Alan, David and Gary; grandchildren, Jeffrey, Jonathan, Adam, Beth and Gretchen; great-grandchildren, Ella, Scarlett, Sadie, Ava, Oliver, Jack and Arlo.
Services will be at 11 a.m., Tuesday, August 20, 2019, in the Saluda Community Cemetery in Saluda, North Carolina.
Date: Tuesday, August 20, 2019
Time: 11:00 am
Saluda City Cemetery
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