Neal Gummoe

Obituary of Neal Ian Gummoe

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In Memorium Neal Ian Gummoe January 7, 1926 – February 13, 2022 Neal Ian Gummoe of Big Flats passed away peacefully at the age of 96 on February 13, 2022, surrounded by family at the Seneca View Skilled Nursing wing of Schuyler Hospital in Montour Falls, NY. The family has high praise for the staff at Seneca View and the loving care Neal received during his more than three-year stay there. Neal was born in 1926 to Friend Orville and Crystel Cook Gummoe at the Gummoe family dairy farm in Aldenville, Pennsylvania, where he and his sister Ruth grew up. Neal attended a one-room schoolhouse through the 8th grade and graduated from Honesdale High School with honors in 1943, at the height of WW II. As the only son in a farm family, Neal was exempt from being drafted into the war effort, but in July of 1943, he enlisted in the United States Army Specialized Training Program (ASTP). Because he was only 17, his parents had to grant permission for him to enlist. Neal took engineering training at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania and basic training at Fort Benning in Georgia before shipping out for the European Theatre in December of 1944 with the 89th Infantry Division of General Patton's 3rd Army. Landing in Le Havre, France in January of 1945, Neal and his fellow infantrymen were initially assigned to help set up along the coast what came to be known as the "cigarette camps" (Philip Morris, Lucky Strike, Pall Mall, etc.) that were to serve as staging areas for the masses of newly arriving troops. Following a brief pre-combat training, Neal was assigned to the 89th Division's 335th Infantry Regiment as a jeep and truck driver in a heavy machine gun squad. In early 1945, his unit drove across France, Belgium, and Luxembourg into Germany, crossing the Rhine on pontoon boats. That spring, Neal's unit was instrumental in discovering and liberating the first known German concentration camp at Ordruff, a sub-camp of Buchenwald. They also participated in the later liberation of The Netherlands. Following Germany's surrender in May of 1945, Neal was assigned to the Occupation Forces and spent time in Czechoslovakia, Austria, the French Riviera, and Paris. In May of 1946, he returned to the U.S. and mustered out of the army at Fort Dix, NJ. Although he had received a battlefield promotion to sergeant, the paperwork was never processed, so Neal was honorably discharged with the rank of corporal at the age of 19. In addition to his stripes, Neal earned a Bronze Star, a Good Conduct Medal, a Conspicuous Service Medal, and numerous campaign and occupation medals during his time in service, but his most treasured award was the Combat Infantry Badge. After the war, Neal attended New York State Agricultural and Technical Institute at Alfred University, where he earned a degree in Agricultural Engineering and met his future wife, Jane Lytle. Neal and Jane graduated from Alfred in 1949, were married in Salem, NY in 1950, and moved to California, where they worked at the U.S. Army's Benicia Arsenal, home of the army's only Camel Corps. After returning to upstate New York, they settled in Cambridge, where they lived for many years, raising their four children, Janet, John, Jim, and Judy, and where Neal worked as an A.I Technician for the New York Artificial Breeders Coop (later known as Eastern A.I. Coop). When Neal became an Area Manager for Eastern A.I. in 1965, the family relocated to the Southern Tier and made their home in Big Flats. Neal was a long-time member of the Big Flats Historical Society and was active in the Big Flats Presbyterian Church for over 50 years, serving as an elder, working on the investment committee, singing in the choir, and most importantly, making coffee. Through the years, Neal has also served his community through roles in various service organizations such as the Big Flats Rotary, the Horseheads Elk Club, and most recently the Big Flats Lions Club. Shortly before moving to Seneca View, Neal was recognized by his fellow Lions for 20 years of dedicated service. Neal was also a member of both the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars. Raised on a dairy farm and trained in ag engineering, Neal spent his career working with dairy farm coops in conjunction with Cornell Extension based in Ithaca. Beginning his career as a relief technician, he retired as manager of the Southern Tier area in 1988 after 35 years of service. In retirement, Neal enjoyed traveling with Jane in their motorhome to visit friends and relatives from Florida to Colorado to Maine and spending time at the family cabin on Waneta Lake. After Jane's passing in 2007, Neal kept busy with his children and grandchildren, his church and community activities, and his WW II research. To supplement his collection of WW II reference books, biographies, atlases, maps, videos, and miniature jeeps, he learned how to use the Internet in order to search for information about the places he had been in the 1940's. Neal also very much enjoyed visiting and spending time with his close friend Ann Hayes over the past 14 years. Some of their favorite activities included eating out at different local restaurants or sharing home-cooked meals together or with friends, traveling to visit family and friends, avidly cheering on their favorite New York Yankees, attending events at church, the Historical Society, or the Community Center, and generally just spending time together and enjoying each other's company. During the time Neal was living at Seneca View, Ann was his most frequent visitor, even when it meant standing out in the cold for window visits during COVID, and she was always his most ardent advocate. Of all his relationships, connections, and activities in Big Flats over the decades, the one Neal may be most known for has to do with coffee. For more than 30 years, Neal was one of a regular group of Big Flats men who got together daily to drink coffee, catch up on the local goings on, and give one another (and anyone else in the vicinity) a hard time. If you wanted to find Neal at 7:00 am or 3:00 pm on any given day, chances were you could find him at Minier's in Big Flats, telling a story, contradicting someone else's point of view, or flipping a coin to see who was going to pay that day. Neal was preceded in death by his wife of 56 years, Jane Lytle Gummoe, his sister Ruth Gummoe Gager, and his niece Jackie Rogers Urbanczyk. He is survived by four children: Janet Gummoe Muzal of Spring TX, John Gummoe (Diane) of Webster NY, Jim Gummoe (Gina Meagher) of Golden CO, Judy Gummoe McIntosh (Jim) of Horseheads NY; eight grandchildren: Ben Gummoe (Sarah Tuttle), Amanda McIntosh (Todd Ennis), David Muzal, Sarah Ruth Gummoe, Andrew McIntosh, Laura Jane Muzal, Kate Gummoe Landis (Aaron), Amy McIntosh (Jeff Sabitus); two great-grandchildren: Amalia Ennis, Ella Jane Sabitus; nieces and nephews: Cindy Gager Buck (Rick), David Gager, Jr., John Van Buren, Carol Rogers, Tom Rogers, Lori Stokem, Karen Fronhofer and their spouses, children, and grandchildren; and very special friend Ann Hayes. A Memorial Service will be held at 11:00 am on Saturday, February 19, 2022, at the First Presbyterian Church of Big Flats. Interment will be in Evergreen Cemetery in Salem, NY at a later date. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the First Presbyterian Church of Big Flats, 95 Main Street, Big Flats, NY 14814
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Saturday
19
February

Memorial Service

11:00 am
Saturday, February 19, 2022
First Presbyterian Church Of Big Flats
95 Main Street
Big Flats, New York, United States
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