Loss of A Good Friend

By Staff
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Thomas R. Gingell, at Bridgewater, Virginia.
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Tom and Jane Gingell at Bridgewater, Virginia.

On April 6, 1999, THOMAS ROBERT GINGELL, 80, of West Main
Street, Emmitsburg, Maryland, passed away at Frederick Memorial
Hospital. The husband of Jane Bollinger Gingell, he was a member of
numerous antique automobile and steam engine organizations. A past
commissioner of the Town of Emmitsburg, he was a member of the
Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6658, and American Legion, Francis X.
Elder Post 121, both of Emmitsburg. Gingell served in the U.S. Navy
during World War II. He owned and operated Gingell’s Quarry,
Fairfield, Pa., for many years. He was retired from the Maryland
State Highway Administration.

Surviving in addition to his wife are three children, Pinny
Davis, Robert T. Gingell and Francie Thomas. From Mark Corson of
9374 Roosevelt Street, Crown Point, Indiana 46307, we received a
copy of the following eulogy, written and presented by Jeff Thomas,
Mr. Gingell’s son-in-law, at the funeral. Photos are provided
by the Gingell family.

It is difficult to capture 80 years of living, especially Tom
Gingell’s living, in a short eulogy. I am going to let Tom tell
you about the first 18 years in his own words nobody could have
done it better. . . In the spring of 1936, Tom and Jane, his wife
of 57 years, completed a high school assignment to write an account
of themselves. I am amazed at how seriously they took these
assignments, and how well, and honestly, they spoke of themselves.
Here are excerpts from Tom’s account:

An Account of Myself by Thomas Robert Gingell

‘I was born in Zora, Pennsylvania, on October 15, 1918. My
parents were of German and Irish decent, mostly German. I lived
with my grandmother until I was 12 years old, the moved to
Emmitsburg with my mother and about three years later moved back
with my grandmother.

‘The person that influenced me most was my uncle [Herb] and
I always wanted to be like him because I thought he was the top of
perfection.

‘In my grammar grades I made fairly good marks but when I
got to high school, oh! I never made over a C until my senior year
and that was aB.

‘Some of my travels were a trip to Chicago in the summer of
1934. Three other fellows and myself went to the International
Exposition in Chicago. We did some high class traveling in a Model
T Ford.’ (Keep in mind, Tom would have been 16 years old when
he took that trip.)

‘In the summer of ’35, Howard Kirwen and myself went to
New York City. We had one swell time. I will never forget it as
long as I live, because I still feel the effects of it.

‘At the present, I am going to school but expect to graduate
this year, ’36. When I get out, I expect to work for my uncle
taking care of things around the plant. But, until my mental
ability is more cultured I guess I will drive a truck.’

In the quarry, Tom was a water boy, and a truck driver. Later
on, Uncle Herb gave Tom and his brother George the operation, and
they ran Gingell Quarries for many years. It is interesting to note
that Tom doesn’t mention growing up without a father. His
father died of the flu and was buried the day Tom was born.

Tom Gingell knew Jane Bollinger since first grade, and we know
how that turned out. No account of Tom would be complete without
Jane, and so I want to read a part of her high school account,.
It’s amazing how similar they were.

An Account of Myself by Jane Rebecca Bollinger

‘In school my marks were about average, but due to my
badness and my having to stand in the corner every day, I was kept
from studying as much as the others. I wouldn’t study, and they
couldn’t make me, because I had my mind set. In my junior year,
I started to study, but found it difficult to do so when there was
a boy that was attracting all my attention, and taking all my time
from my studies.’

Well, that boy was Tom. They broke up after that, and Tom was
devastated. Tom decided he might win Jane back if he had a new car,
so he borrowed the money from his grandmother and bought a 1937
Ford 4-door Phaeton. Jane thought she would like to ride in that
car, and the rest is history. They went together for five more
years and got married in 1942. Their first daughter Pinny was born
that year, their son Bob was born a year later. Fifteen years
later, in 1958, their daughter and my wife, Francie, was born.

In World War II Tom was a Machinist Mate in the Navy, stationed
in Xiapain. Tom also worked for many years for the state of
Maryland as a highway inspector, before retiring. But what was his
life’s work? Tom loved old things. Old furniture, old cars, old
steam engines, old clocks, old toys, old scales, old mills, old
fans, old stuff. He liked to restore old things, collect old
things, and give them to his family. Look at his home, or my home,
or Bob’s home, or Pinny’s home, and you will find Tom’s
work there. This eulogy was written in my home at a table that Tom
restored. He sold some things, but he didn’t do it to make
money. He did it because he got pleasure from returning things to
working order. And he was good at it. He restored a 1913 Buick
touring car, which is seen every year in the Fourth of July parade
in Emmitsburg. He restored and learned to operate a 1920 Case 50 HP
steam engine, which he took all over the country to show. He took
much pleasure in the delight these treasures brought to people,
especially young people. He loved to give rides and to teach young
children to operate the old steam engine.

No life would be complete without an airplane, and Tom had one
of those, too. He was flying it low over the Potomac River near
Sheppard-stown one day. As he rounded the river bend, there stood
the James Rumsey Bridge. As Tom tells the story, his choices were
to hit the bridge, or fly under it. As he flew under it, he could
see fishermen diving out of their boats and into the water.

Tom loved the company of good friends. He was a man of enormous
wit and good humor. His laughter was distinctive, and infectious.
He was honest and direct. He could say things to people that no one
else could get away with. He could teach you to accept and laugh at
your own faults, because he accepted himself. He loved this
country, and he and Jane traveled it extensively. Because of his
personality and interests in steam, and antique cars, he made many,
many friends all over and shared many, as he put it in 1936, swell
times with them.

Tom and I shared a common interest in restored machines, and for
the last ten years or so, my wife Francie and I have traveled with
Tom and Jane to the antique equipment shows and museums around the
country. It was Tom that suggested I get a Model A Ford. Tom’s
most recent project was to complete restoration of a 1937 Ford
four-door Phaeton (just like the one he had when he was 18). Tom
and I have spent many hours working together on these two cars. In
his shop and in my garage Tom taught me what he knew about
restoring and operating old equipment. Tom was my friend, and there
wasn’t anything Tom wouldn’t do to help me, or any of his
friends out, on a project.

So what did I learn from Tom? Go nice and slow when using a
hacksaw, and you’ll get a cleaner cut. Have a good sense of
humor. Accept your own faults with humor. Help your friends. Enjoy
your family.

Though he is gone, he is not forgotten, and there is much to
remind us of him. When I look around at the things that Tom
restored, I think, Tom Gingell did that. When I look in my heart,
and see what I learned from Tom, I think, Tom Gingell did that
too.

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