| December/January 1999

  • Memoriam

  • Memoriam

LAWRENCE SAMUEL GORDON ('Flash'), was born February 7, 1923, died November 16, 1998, at age 75.

He was the son of the late Hubert Oliver and Ressie Lee Wilinger Gordon, one of four children. He is survived by one brother and one sister, both of Harrisonburg, Virginia. He was preceded in death by his wife Kathleen Gordon, with whom he had four children and seven grandchildren.

Flash served in the U.S. Army from 1942-December 20, 1945. He served almost four years dragging Uncle Sam's artillery all over Europe.

His first year out of the service was spent working at odd jobs. He then went to work for Virginia Department of Transportation. He lived in Stanton for several years, then transferred to Front Royal. He spent much of his career working on equipment in the state-owned quarries, which were staffed with prison labor. When this practice was discontinued, he finished out his employment in Front Royal.

I first came to know Flash in the early 1980s. Les Good was Club president then, and Flash spent most of his spare time with Les in the service of Shenandoah Valley Steam & Gas Engine Association. He was most happy when working behind the scenes. Thoroughly versed in the workings of old equipment, he would share his knowledge when asked. He never appeared to be a 'know-it-all,' though he usually had the answer.

Flash was the unofficial greeter for the club. Many times I saw him welcome visitors and engage them in conversation. This would inevitably lead to an invitation to join us.

He was also in charge of safety breaks! Whenever we were working on a club project, he would make the call for a break with a refreshing beverage.

Flash's time and talents are greatly missed by all who knew him. His entertaining stories of life will be treasured forever. I am eternally grateful for the time we shared together.

It was with great satisfaction that we dedicated the addition to the club building in Flash's name, while he was still here to enjoy it. He was moved beyond words. That was the only time I ever saw him speechless.Submitted by Rick Custer, President of Shenandoah Valley Steam and Gas Engine Association, 75 Spring Blossom Ln., Gerrardstown, West Virginia 25420.

EUGENE H. PILLING, 84, passed away at St. Mary's Medical Center in Racine, Wisconsin, on August 1, 1999.

He was born in Stockbridge on May 29, 1915, to Eugene and Emma Nordhaus Pilling and had been a resident of Racine since 1947. In Chilton on February 14, 1940, he was united in marriage to Lorraine Gall in 1940.

He was an engineer at Racine Steel Casting, retiring in 1977 after 29 years of service. He previously worked as a farmer in Stockbridge before coming to Racine.

He was a life member of the Steam and Gas Engine Club. He attended the Badger Antique Engine Club of Baraboo, Wisconsin, and other localities in his motor home with his wife and cat and many of his antiques.

He collected engines, boat motors, tools, etc. He had been a good machinist in his time, too, a very interesting man to visit. He had a cat he used to dress up and he carried the cat around with him.

Surviving are his wife, Lorraine; one daughter, Bonnie Vertz of Franksville; one son, Leonard (Pat) Pilling of Racine; nine grandchildren, nine great-grandchildren, and one great-great-granddaughter.

Submitted by Syl Henry ,1027 Harding St., Janesville, Wisconsin 53545-1615

CLARENCE JOHNSON, 89, of Twin Valley, formerly Gary, Minnesota, died August 22, 1999, at the Bridges Medical Service Hospital, Ada, Minnesota.

Clarence Lloyd Johnson was born in a log cabin on April 17, 1910, near Mahnomen, Minnesota, the son of Martin and Louise Sjolseth Johnson. He attended school in both Twin Valley and Gary, and as a young man he worked with his father on the family farm near Gary.

From 1920 until 1941, Clarence worked in road construction. During World War II, Clarence served in the U.S. Army European Theater. He served in the 3rd Infantry Division, 756 Tank Battalion (also known as Audie Murphy's Company), as a tank driver. The unit that Clarence served throughout the war had more Congressional Medals of Honor, a total of 39, awarded than any unit ever.

By the end of the war he had served throughout Europe and was in several major battles and companies. Clarence had 428 days of combat time on record and by the war's end, he had gone 33 continuous months without a roof over his head. Following his discharge from military service, on September 16, 1945, he returned to Gary and worked in highway construction.

In 1958, he married Inez Tastad in Faith, Minnesota. They made their home on a farm near Gary, which he operated until 1990. Mrs. Johnson died in 1967, and Clarence moved to Twin Valley in 1995, making his home there since.

Clarence will be remembered for his interest in antique gas engines, which he restored and collected. He was an active member of the Western Minnesota Steam Threshers Reunion, in Rollag. He also loved to travel and was proud to have traveled to 46 states before his death.

He is survived by a sister, Palma Minteer of Seattle, Washington, and several nieces and nephews.

Clarence was laid to rest with three things of life dearest to him. A picture of his wife Inez, whom he loved dearly. The sound of his favorite gas engine, a Fairbanks-Morse type 'N' running in the background during his funeral service, and the military presentation by the Gary, Minnesota, American Legion Post 505, during which the engine was shut down. The Fairbanks-Morse type 'N' was brought back from the West Coast by his two nephews, Jim and Jerry Johnson in his honor.

A great engine-man lost, but remembered by many and a friend to many at the WMSTR at Rollag, Minnesota, and an extremely proud member of the Rollag 200 Club

Submitted by his nephew, James L. Johnson, 4115 S. 298th Court. Auburn, Washington 98001-2237.

HARRY E. McCOSH, 86, of Peoria, Illinois, died September 23, 1999, at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center.

Born April 8, 1913, in Adeline Village, Ogle County, to Benjamin and Irene Shibley McCosh, he married Marian Day in 1937, in Crown Point, Indiana. She preceded him in death.

He also was preceded in death by one son, Joe L. McCosh.

Surviving are one grandson, Philip McCosh of rural Princeville; daughter-in-law, Judy McCosh; one granddaughter, Terri McCosh of Chilicothe; and one great-grandson, David.

He worked at Caterpillar Inc. for many years.

He was a member of the Atkinson Antique Engine and Tractor Association.

Submitted by John W. Boyens, Bettendorf, Iowa.

PAUL W. HUDSON, one of the founding fathers of the Tri-County Old Time Power Association, passed away September 2, 1999.

He was also a charter member of the Hudson Mohawk Pioneer Gas Engine Association.

Paul was also helpful in the development of the heritage part of the Fonda Fair and the antique engine display area, where we have been able to showcase our engines for the last thirty years.

Paul was enthusiastic about his hobby. You would see him grinding and selling his cornmeal at all the shows, including Fort Klock. He loved to talk about old times to anyone who would listen, from the smallest youngster to the old timers.

He also belonged to the Hudson Valley Old Time Power Association, Coon Hollow Engine Club, Inc. He was the last surviving member of the Old Dan Tucker and His Money Muskers group. He played harmonica and guitar with the Barn Warmers group.

Paul worked for the H. P. Snyder Manufacturing Company in Little Falls for fifty years.

He married Florentine Dineen in 1933. Besides his wife, Florentine he is survived by two sons, Robert Hudson of Fort Plain, and Ronald Hudson of St. Johnsville; four grandchildren; seven great-grandchildren; nieces and nephews.

Paul will be greatly missed by all who were lucky enough to have known him.

Submitted fry Norma Norton, Sec, Tri-County Old Time Power Association, in upstate New York.

AMOS EDWARD RIXMANN, died June 4, 1999, at the age of 74.

When my dear husband, Amos Rixmann died so suddenly in June this year, everyone who knew him was deeply shocked. He was so vibrant and full of life with so many interests and such a lively mind. Most of the people who knew him had a special story to tell.

Companions from the one room school house who remembered building a raft to float on the creek, until this activity was discovered by the teacher and stopped, probably saving their young lives.

In high school he played trombone, and thanks to an excellent teacher he enjoyed playing it for the rest of his life. His interest in music was always expanding. He loved to sing in men's groups, and no Christmas was complete without friends singing carols around the piano.

In WWII he became a Navy pilot and loved to fly. After the war, he bought several retired planes and kept them at the family farm in Illinois, where he gave joy rides to the neighbors, who, when they landed, weren't too sure about the 'joy.'

There are many stories about his exploits at the university, especially flying, serenading, and socializing. His friends of that time tell me he 'lived on the edge,' but enjoyed life enormously.

For many years Amos worked for Caterpillar, then for International Harvester. But he left them to develop and build the agricultural crawler tractor with Lyman Knapp. One of these tractors is at the Major County Historical Society Museum. I understand that these tractors were the only ones to be built in Oklahoma.

All Amos's life he loved steam power. When he was very young his grandfather made him a model 'Jumbo' out of scraps of wood and metal. It was his favorite toy for many years, and the envy of his friends. We still have it. From the time he was old enough, he always helped with the thrashing and the sound of a steam engine was music to him. He had a passion for locomotives and his technical knowledge was vast.

It was this same knowledge that made his Prony brake demonstrating so interesting. He felt that steam engines were built to work, and he loved to put them through their paces, knowing how they should sound under any given load.

He will be sadly missed at steam shows up and down the country as well as his articles in Engineers and Engines and the Iron Man Album.

But no one will miss him as much as we will, his own family.

Submitted by his wife.


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