|Birth: ||Sep. 19, 1921, Austria|
|Death: ||Jul. 20, 1998|
This gentleman was my eighth grade science teacher, and I won't ever forget him. He had the gift of making learning fun and absorbing. He was a true gent, with an almost old world mannerly way about him, and he was blessed with a natural ability to lend encouragement to his students.
I can remember Mr. Gossy having us devise and carry out our own experiements and projects with his guidance, and recall presenting results of my own that showed that how food was presented to a gerbil affected whether or not it was eaten, and how to make home-made soap. He loved and encouraged enthusiasm. One funny memory of him is that on the day he showed us the Alvin Toffler film "Future Shock" he took the time to "accidentally" walk in front of and cover the projector so we'd be unable to absorb a short scene where two guys got married. I'm not commenting on his values, as his doing this may not have reflected his own, so much as remembering the times and potential liability issues with the district or with parents when the student might have gone home and brought it up at the dinner table to lawsuit-inclined parents. He was no fool.
He cut an amazing figure, a tall, barrel-chested man with beautiful carriage, a round face and exotic eyes. He just loved kids and enjoyed teaching. He also raised two really cute and smart daughters who were talented and well-liked, one of whom was my editor one year on the school newspaper.
From 1995: Guido Gossy, 73, is sitting on the edge of the couch in his Allentown home. The longtime Allentown school teacher and principal is remembering a world he knew 50 years ago when he was fresh-faced G.I. medic with the 324 Regiment of the 44th Infantry Division in the middle of World War II.
"I was wounded at Hausen and Kulmhardt, Germany," says the holder of the Purple Heart. "I was literally blown out of a foxhole." Gossy also remembers where he was on V-E Day -- May 8, 1945 -- when he heard that the war in Europe was over. "We were on our way to Innsbruck, Austria. We had heard rumors but it was only then that word officially came in on the radio," Gossy recalls. The men greeted the news with mixed emotions.
"On the one hand we were glad, of course," said Gossy.
But there was a nagging concern that made the G.I.s less than joyful. "We were wondering how long it would be before they decided to ship us to Japan," he remembers.
If Gossy's fate had been a little different he might have ended up drafted into the German army in World War II. His family was from Burgenland, the region of eastern Austria that borders Hungary. But his father and mother, Joseph and Caroline Gossy, decided to leave Austria for America in 1922 when he was 1-year-old. "My Dad's mother had moved here right after World War I so when we got here we moved in with them," he remembers.
Allentown has one of the largest concentrations of Burgenlanders outside of Austria. Joseph Gossy's father was a carpenter by background, but went to work in the Allentown silk mills. He also built houses and operated a restaurant. "I helped my father put up a house from the ground up," recalls Gossy. As a youngster Gossy was deeply influenced by his mother's interest in books and learning. "She was a member of several book clubs and even got a book of her poems published," he recalls.
Gossy graduated from Allentown High School, now William Allen High, in 1939. Gossy was a member of the school orchestra. He then attended Kutztown State Teachers College, now Kutztown University, majoring in science. During his senior year at Kutztown, he was teaching science at Matamoras High School in Matamoras, Pike County. Gossy was set to graduate with the class of 1943.
But like most young men of his generation, Gossy had a strong urge to serve his country in the military. During a school break, he took Civilian Military Training at Fort George G. Meade in Maryland. "I was quite something. In my pictures I look like a little kid in that World War I surplus uniform they gave me," he remembers.
In September 1942 he enlisted in the Army Enlisted Reserve Corps. On Feb. 14, 1943, he left Kutztown to enter the military. Gossy graduated in absentia from Kutztown in March. After basic training, he was sent to Springfield, Mo., where he taught at an Army hospital.
Gossy was unhappy. "I wanted to go out and do some good. I volunteered for combat," he said. Gossy says his fellow hospital workers were surprised by his decision.
"They thought I was nuts," he remembers. Gossy volunteered to be a medic. There was a reason for this, he confesses. Gossy still had a large extended family in Austria, then a province of Nazi Germany. "I'll tell you the truth, I just didn't want to be in a position where I might end up shooting at a relative," he said.
Gossy took language courses at the University of Nebraska and Washington University in St. Louis. Because of his ethnic background Gossy already understood and could speak German. In spring 1944 he crossed the Atlantic to England on a Liberty ship. Gossy was now part of the 44th Infantry.
The 44th engaged in heavy fighting as it crossed Europe. Gossy recalls being in the Alsace-Lorraine, the much disputed border area between France and Germany, the Rhineland area of Germany, and Strasbourg, in northeastern France. He recalls one town where the Germans were going from house to house. "The had this big tank with an 88-millimeter gun and they were shooting into every house. Fortunately, they stopped before they got to the house we were in." Gossy also remembers his unit being attacked by a gunner in a German rocket plane.
Perhaps one of the most moving moments in the war for Gossy came when he and the men in his regiment liberated a concentration camp. Gossy cannot recall the name of it. He does remember the event, though, because he was asked to translate for the prisoners. "They were so happy to see us that they let us in on a secret," he said. Apparently the camp's guards, fearing an American arrival, had spent the last several days hiding camp supplies. Among the items taken to a nearby cave was the commandant's champagne cache. The prisoners gladly shared this news with their liberators. "Boy, did we have champagne," says Gossy with a chuckle.
As Gossy's regiment drove deep into Bavaria, there was a new assignment: guarding Neuschwanstein Castle in the mountains southwest of Munich. Built in the mid-19th century for Bavaria's "mad king" Ludwig II, it is a fairy tale structure that no one would have ever used as an actual fortification. "We were guarding a huge number of art treasures," said Gossy. He recalled a tragic moment when one of his fellow soldiers was trying to get into the castle. "He didn't have the password and the fellow on guard duty was not to let anyone pass, so he shot him," said Gossy. "The poor guy who was the guard was completely broken up by it."
Gossy got word that the war was over in the Austrian resort town of Innsbruck. And it did not take long before orders came that he was to be shipped to Japan.
In summer 1945 Gossy found himself on the ocean liner Queen Elizabeth, then being used as troop transport. As he recalls, the ship was halfway across the Atlantic when word came of V-J Day and the end of World War II. "They told us instead of Japan we were going to New York," he recalls. "I was so thankful that I was lucky enough to come home and in one piece, so many guys didn't."
With the war's end Gossy returned to the Lehigh Valley where he married and began his career in the Allentown School District, eventually becoming principal of South Mountain Junior High School. He and his wife Marilyn raised two daughters. Ann works for Rodale Press in Emmaus. Mary Susan, a graduate of Bryn Mawr and Harvard, is a professor of woman's studies and Spanish at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N. J.
His wife died several years ago. Gossy has been involved in the local chapter of the Military Order of the Purple Heart. He said he would like to travel to Europe someday. "I would like to see some of those places again," he said.
Guido Joseph Gossy, 76, of 1721 Thirty-first St. SW, Allentown, died Monday, July 20, at the home of his daughter, Ann Yermish of East Norriton, Montgomery County. He was the husband of Marilyn Gossy, who died in 1991.
An educator and administrator in the Allentown School District for about 50 years, he was a teacher, assistant principal and principal of Harrison Morton Middle School. Also, he was a guidance counselor and principal of South Mountain Middle School and a teacher at Trexler Middle School.
He was a graduate of Kutztown University and Lehigh University and studied for his doctoral degree at Columbia University.
Born in Grosspetersdorf, Austria, he was a son of the late Joseph and Caroline (Just) Gossy.
He was a member of St. Thomas More Catholic Church, Salisbury Township, and a founding parishioner of St. Francis Catholic Church, Norristown.
An Army veteran of World War II, he was a combat medic in the European Theater and recipient of the Purple Heart and Bronze Star.
He was a past commander of the Lehigh Valley chapter of the Military Order of the Purple Heart.
On March 14 the mayor and the city of Allentown proclaimed "Guido Gossy Day" for his service to the city and its people.
A past president of the Schoolmen's Club, Gossy also was honored by the Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge.
Active in environmental education, he won a Ford Foundation fellowship for the study of conservation.
Gossy was an Eagle Scout merit badge counselor.
Survivors: Daughters, including Ann, Mary of New York City, and a brother Ernest of Hollywood, Fla.
Memorial Mass: 10 a.m. Friday, St. Thomas More Church. Arrangements, Boyd-Horron Funeral Home, East Norriton.
Contributions: Nature Conservancy, 1100 E. Hector St., Lee Park, Conshohocken.
Created by: sr/ks
Record added: Feb 24, 2009
Find A Grave Memorial# 34160720