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Jack Gause

Jack Gause

Navy veteran, commercial diver, and wrestling icon who has lived in Plymouth for over 50 years

Born: Portland, OR, United States
Heritage: European American

Study. Study, study, study. That’s probably the best advice you can have in this new world that you’re living in. I still don’t own a cell phone, I don’t run a computer. The world has changed. I’m an old specimen of society from a long time ago. The modern society you’re in, if you don’t study, you’ll have a hard time finding a job. It’s not like the old days where everybody went out and got a pick and shovel and started doing something. It just isn’t done that way anymore.

Jack Gause

Navy veteran, commercial diver, and wrestling icon who has lived in Plymouth for over 50 years

I was born in 1930, in Portland, Oregon. My folks drove an old automobile from Portland back to Minneapolis in 1931 and I’ve been here since I was one year old. We moved several times as a youth, but ended up in a house in Robbinsdale in 1939. That house still owned by a member of the family to this day.

In 1945, when I turned 15, my father who thought everybody should be working no matter what, took me to East St. Louis, Illinois, put me in the diving suit and put me down for my first job. When I came back from St. Louis, I went to work for Parson’s Electric over the summer. So at 15, I was working as an electrician and a commercial diver.

From 1949-1950, I went to St. Cloud and I spent a year of college there and during that time I started the wrestling team at The College of St. Cloud. They didn’t have wrestling and I am the founder, the first coach of wrestling for what is now the University of St. Cloud.

Then, the Korean War began. So my roommate and I decided we’d go take tests with all of the different services and see which one would guarantee us the best kind of schooling. It happened that the Navy had the best system for us. I was stationed on the USS Asprow, the oldest submarine afloat at that time. I got married while I was in the service and we had three children together.

After the Navy, I worked half days at Al’s Electric as I finished school. I have my degree from St. Cloud. I majored in Social Sciences, minored in both Math and Physics, and got my masters degree in the Social Sciences with Economics as the strongest field. All three of my children were able to walk into my graduation at St. Cloud after I got out of the Navy.

I once had a math teacher by the name of Mark Woodward. He was just the greatest guy I’ve ever known and so I patterned my life after him. I became a teacher and a coach. I taught math and coached wrestling in Columbia Heights High School. That’s also where I became involved with the international officiating of wrestling.

In 1970, I was made the head of officials for the United States AAU program. From 1970 – 1976, I officiated the Pan-American Games and four World Cups. I’ve refereed seven World Tournaments and the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal. I refereed four gold medal games before I resigned as the head official and I have not refereed a match since 1976.

During all this time, I would still take time to go to diving jobs. After I finished teaching, I ran my own business for a period of about six years. That was doing lawn service and tree removal. I’m 80 years old now and to this day, I still do all kinds of handy man work. If you have driven on Vicksburg and seen the diver on the corner, that’s my house and I moved in there in 1960. That’s fifty years ago. I’ve seen a lot of change in Plymouth.


A Specimen From A Long Time Ago

Honoring Jack Gause

A Specimen From A Long Time Ago
(Honoring Jack Gause)

Lots of changes going on since the time I was born
I'm a specimen from a long time ago

There was a dirt road when I moved here
There were cattle, morgan horses
out in the field
The deer would come runnin'
through my backyard
With acres of woodland, and corn to till

My father thought everyone
should be working
So he put me in a diving suit
to work for Cargill
To repair a loading dock
in East Saint Louis
At fifteen, had to go down
and unbolt crumbled steel

With my brother working
on the Cumberland River
We went down for two weeks
to set 10,000 pounds
Of explosives to blow up I remember
Catfish belly up, layin' on the ground

My father was a tough German
In High school I learned to question
everything I knew
By my wrestling coach, a math teacher
Who taught me to find joy
in each and every move

After school, went up North to Leach Lake
With a friend to cut timber
in the winter of '49
From there went on to Saint Cloud College
Where I started the wrestling team
for the first time

Joined the Navy
stationed on the USS Aspro
Climbed over five torpedoes
to my bunk every night
Chasing Russian submarines
along the west coast
During the War many good sailors
lost their life

I got married when I was in the service
Then went back to college
with my lovely wife
Together we had three great children
I earned three college degrees
to help us through life

Teaching math the same as my mentor
A wrestling coach and Olympic referee
Plus hard hat diving with my brother
And workin' with my sons, trimming trees

When my brother passed away
I thought it fitting
To make a monument out of that tree
That died the same week that he did
Of a hardhat diver, in loving memory

Words & music by Larry Long with Scott Sykes 4th Grade Class of Birchview Elementary School, Plymouth, Minnesota.

© Larry Long 2011