Bliss Albro VanGundy – 1997 Inductee

Bliss Albro VanGundy, born October 14, 1885, on a farm near Milton, Atchison County, Missouri, was the son of John and Serilda (Jones) VanGundy.  In 1888, the family moved to Tarkio, the largest town in the county, where Bliss attended and graduated from grade school.  In 1902 the family moved to a farm in Winfield Township, Osborne County, Kansas.  Bliss entered Osborne High School that autumn and graduated with the class of 1906 as valedictorian.  For a few years following graduation, Bliss worked on the family farm, intending to make farming his life occupation.  In 1910, however, he managed several business stations for the Farmers Union, including positions as assistant manager at the Farmers Union wholesale produce house in Kansas City and as manager of the Osborne general store.

In May of 1918 the postmaster suggested to Bliss that he enter the Osborne post office as a replacement for a clerk who was called to military service.  Bliss did so, and this “replacement situation” became his life’s work for the next thirty-six years.  During these years, Bliss served as Clerk, Civil Service Secretary, Assistant Postmaster, and for the last sixteen months as Acting Postmaster, finally retiring on April 30, 1954.  Bliss also participated actively in the United Methodist Church, serving for forty-two years on the official board and taking a keen interest in helping care for the financial records of the Sunday School and the church.  On October 18, 1918, Bliss and Pearl J. Nelson of Bloomington were married in Osborne County.  To this union four children were born:  Dorothy Josephine; Eugene Alleyn; Arthur Leroy; and Virginia Frances.  The extended family included eleven grandchildren and eleven great-grandchildren.  Following a second stroke, Pearl passed away on February 22, 1962.

Following retirement, Bliss did considerable work on the VanGundy family tree.  Becoming interested in early day residents of Osborne County, Bliss wrote three hundred articles about such residents during the 1960s and 1970s which were published in the Osborne County Farmer under the title “Osborne County Pioneers.”  In conjunction with this, Bliss compiled a “ready reference file,” as he called it, on Osborne County citizens and special events that had occurred in Osborne County history between the years 1910 and 1980, together with some earlier references.  At the time of his death the card file had grown to over three thousand index cards.  He gave the file to the Osborne Public Library, where it is consulted on a daily basis by historians, genealogists and others curious about the events that shaped local affairs for nearly a century.

Bliss had three brothers:  Phil, who died in 1967; Harry, who died in 1979; and Frank, who died on December 9, 1982.  In July of 1971, Bliss moved from Osborne, his home for sixty-nine years, to El Cajon, California, where he made his home with his daughter, Dorothy, and her husband, Wesley, for nearly nine years.  He passed away in El Cajon on June 25, 1980, just four months short of his ninety-fifth birthday, and was laid to rest in the Osborne Cemetery.

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