Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Robert Gangwisch, 81, lived a life full of laughter, fun

Retired Chevrolet manager was also a lieutenant colonel

By Reid Forgrave
The Cincinnati Enquirer

MONTGOMERY - After Robert L. Gangwisch died Sunday at age 81, his wife of 51 years and five children flipped though piles of photo albums and laughed. A lot.

Considering Mr. Gangwisch's life, laughter accompanying mourning shouldn't be a surprise.

When Paramount's Kings Island opened in 1972, Mr. Gangwisch heard of an audition for an amusement park television commercial. So he brought along his daughter Sally and popped on a sombrero for the audition, later appearing in the commercial.

Also in the 1970s, Mr. Gangwisch had a friend who worked for radio station WLW. He wanted - no, needed - his kids to fly in the WLW helicopter. Sure enough, each kid got a helicopter ride.

When the television show Family Feud visited Cincinnati, Mr. Gangwisch made T-shirts - "Gangwisches Love Family Feud" - for a failed attempt to get on the show.

"If something was happening some place, he wanted to be there," Julie Schaeff, one of his daughters, said. "Everything we did, we had to make it more fun than it would normally be. You'd think we'd be crying right now, but we're all laughing."

After serving as an Army administrator during World War II, Mr. Gangwisch worked for General Motors. He retired as a regional manager for Chevrolet. He reached the rank of lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserves.

He took his sons to the Bengals training camp every year. During games, Mr. Gangwisch wore Bengals hats and underwear. Only he wore the underwear atop his clothes.

"Whatever the occasion called for, he had the right type of hat," his wife, Edna, said, remembering when he went to a party wearing a hat that looked like a fire hydrant.

As Mr. Gangwisch lay on his deathbed Sunday, succumbing to his long battle with an ailing heart, diabetes and, finally, pneumonia, family members kept the Bengals game on television.

In addition to his wife and daughter, he is survived by another daughter, Sally Schmidt of Sharonville; three sons, Richard of Atlanta, Robert Jr. of Detroit, and James of New York; and eight grandchildren.

Services will be 11 a.m. today at the Good Shepherd Church Chapel at 8815 E. Kemper Road, Montgomery. Visitation will precede the service from 10-11 a.m.


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