COLUMBIA — Gary Naugle Sr. built homes for 55 years.
Mr. Naugle’s last name predestined him to be a builder — it means “nail” in German, his wife, Edith Naugle, said.
Mr. Naugle died Sunday, Feb. 17, 2013, in Columbia. He was 72.
In 1969, Mr. Naugle moved from St. Louis to Columbia and was bidding against a local contractor for his first project in the city: an addition and kitchen remodel on Independence Street.
Mr. Naugle didn’t have a history of construction work in Columbia. He did, however, build a houseboat when he and his wife lived in St. Louis (Mr. Naugle detailed the story on naugleco.com/houseboat.html). After showing pictures of the houseboat, he was hired for the remodeling.
“The man said, ‘If you can build that, you can do my addition,’” Edith Naugle said.
Mr. Naugle founded the Naugle Company, which has built more than 500 houses and completed more than 4,000 remodeling projects in Columbia.
Edith Naugle met her husband in their hometown of Johnstown, Pa., when they were 15. Back then “he was the boy down the street,” Edith Naugle said.
As a young man, Mr. Naugle loved cars — his first date with Edith Naugle was a stock car race. But it wasn't just automobiles he enjoyed. Mr. Naugle also delivered newspapers on his pony named Tony, Edith Naugle said.
Mr. Naugle served a year in the Army in Korea in the aftermath of the Korean War. Shortly after returning from his service, he married Edith Naugle, and the couple moved to St. Louis to start his construction company.
Mr. Naugle’s love of building and construction came from his mother, Grace, who completed a vestibule, porch additions and a bathroom remodel in their Johnstown home.
Mr. Naugle was one of 14 siblings. Edith Naugle said large families look out for each other, a fact Mr. Naugle learned at a young age and taught to his own children. She recalled Mr. Naugle being a strict, yet hands-on father.
At their house in Columbia, which Mr. Naugle designed and built from 1969 to 1971, he and his five children planted trees, raised gardens and tended cattle.
“The kids learned that you have to carry your own weight,” Edith Naugle said. “When you have kids, you have to be there to guide them and show them the way.”
Mr. Naugle enjoyed traveling, especially cross-country road trips in RVs. Most trips saw the Naugles driving to Johnstown for family reunions or to Florida to visit Mr. Naugle’s father, Leonard.
Katy Bales, Mr. Naugle’s daughter, remembered one trip to Florida in the early 1980s when the RV blew a tire in the middle of the highway. It was a stressful situation that her father handled with ease.
“He was just calm. It didn’t faze him one bit,” Bales said. “He knew what to do, took charge and took care of us.”
Bales said he was the glue of the family, keeping family reunions going and organizing get-togethers.
In 2009, Mr. Naugle retired and passed the business onto his sons, Gary Naugle Jr. and Shawn Naugle.
The Naugles took their last road trip together in October. They visited Johnstown to take in the beautiful scenery of the turning leaves and to revisit their dating hot spots, she said.
Edith Naugle described her husband as a unique man. At age 14, after the death of his mother, he hitchhiked to Florida with his brother Richard. In 2009, Mr. Naugle planted fruit orchards while in his late 60s.
When Edith Naugle asked her husband why he did such difficult and strange things, he’d respond, “Well, that’s something I want to do.”
Mr. Naugle is survived by his wife, Edith; five children, Gary Naugle Jr. and his wife, Leslie, Leonard and his wife, Kristi, Shawn and his wife, Paula, Charles and his wife, Delesia, all of Columbia, and Katy Bales and her husband, Lyle, of Moberly; 12 grandchildren, David, Andy, Cameron, Ryan and Lindsey Naugle and Erik Carlson, all of Columbia, Drew and Amber of Warrensburg, Katelyn and Courtney Bales of Moberly, Lyle Bales Jr. of Norfolk, Va., and Jeffery Rains and his wife, Erika, of Yuma, Ariz.; his aunt, Mary Butzburger of Ormond Beach, Fla.; four sisters, Ruth Chynoweth of Johnstown, Pa., Alice Kneezle and Pat Owens, both of St. Louis, and Joan Stroer of Columbia; his mother-in-law, Catherine McDonald of Columbia; and many nieces and nephews.
His parents, four brothers and a three sisters died earlier.
A visitation will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at Memorial Funeral Home, 1217 Business Loop 70 W. A funeral Mass will be held at 10 a.m. Wednesday at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, 1115 Locust St. Internment will follow in Memorial Park Cemetery.
Memorial donations may be made to Missouri Cancer Associates, 1705 E. Broadway, Suite 100, Columbia, MO 65201.
Tributes can be posted at memorialfuneralhomeandcemetery.com.
Supervising editor is Karen Miller.