Thursday, December 25, 2008

Neighbors and Heroes

Pine Lake kids of all ages know the house on Lakeshore Dr., across the street from the gazebo, with the most extraordinary display of lights and decorations, yard art, life-size figures, blow-ups, and cut-outs every Christmas, Easter, and Halloween. Paul and Dorothy Gumz were not shy. They celebrated generously for everyone’s viewing enjoyment. The work involved in putting out these displays, not to mention storage and keeping up with it all, was enormous.

Paul Arthur Gumz, Jr., age 86, of Pine Lake, died Saturday December 20, 2008.

A native of Chicago, Mr Gumz retired in 1992 from the U.S. Postal Service, where he had worked for 37 years. He was also a WWII veteran of service in the U.S. Army. He was a dedicated Atlanta Braves baseball fan. He loved trains and especially his family.

He is survived by his wife of 56 years, Dorothy Wilkinson Gumz of Pine Lake, children, Richard Gumz of Social Circle, Terry Gumz of Rowell, Reece Gumz of Commerce, Sherry Garmon of Logaville, Debra Young of Monroe, and Vincent Gumz of Box Springs, a brother Bernard Gumz of St Petersburg, Fl., and sister Dorothy Perry of Chicago, Il., and 14 grandchildren and 12 great grandchildren.

Pine Lake friend and neighbor Paul Jasionowski writes, “I am very sad that one of my heroes passed away on December 20, 2008. Paul Gumz, of Pine Lake, GA, was a World War II veteran who served with the 56th Medical Battalion of the U.S. 7th Army. They were the first battalion to liberate the Dachau Concentration Camp on April 29, 1945. I interviewed him in 2005 for an article which was published in Plaintalk. He had a portfolio of pictures that he took during the liberation. I asked him why he took pictures; he replied, “No one would have ever believed me.” His portfolio is on display at the Jewish Studies Center at Emory University and the Andersonville Prisoner of War Camp Museum.”

“I considered him a friend who shared with me a firsthand testament of war and man’s inhumanity toward man, which was a haunting reminder to him for most of his life and should be a reminder for all of us as well. It is my hope that a Grateful Nation will acknowledge him and remember him for the freedoms that he, and others like him have fought to give us.”

"He will be greatly missed.”

Paul Jasionowski published his interview with Mr. Gumz in 2005 in the Pine Lake PLAINTALK. Click here to enjoy this tribute.


Tina said...

What a fine fellow he must have been. Those guys really went through a lot. Soon our WWII vets will become rarer by the year. The last Elderhostel I attended featured some lectures on the war in the Pacific. Some of the older men in the group had actually been there in those ships and were quite vivid in recounting their memories. The rest of us kinda sat there and listened with our jaws dropped.

meredith said...

Interesting to me. I went with one of Paul Gumz' sons in the 1970's. Mr. Gumz was, as I remember, a kind and gentle man. Not one to talk too much. I never knew about his WWII experience. I am sorry I didn't have the maturity at the time to find out. And I am sorry to hear of his passing. I remember Dorothy well, especially as she smiled with a glint in her eyes while peering at me from behind her glasses. I hope the rest of the family is well and have thought of them often in the decades since... for so many memories and so many reasons. If the word gets passed on, please send my well wishes and God bless. Meredith

william power said...

I remember Paul as a coworker at the Post Office at the old Broadview station. We stood side by side for about nine months in the mornings sorting the flats. It's true he didn't talk much about his WWII experences but now and again I'd be able to get him to talk about moving through Italy. He recounted some grizzly experences. I remember one time when he was complaining about "modern" music. I told him "Paul, you haven't enjoyed any music since Horace Heidt played the old Municipal Auditorium." He laughed out loud for several minutes.


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