Vogel, who has spent 21 years in Sparks, celebrated his 99th birthday on Monday and has been showered with love and praise from his wife, Wanda, and his family. Gail said he attributes his long lifespan to “TLC,” while pointing at Wanda, and admitted there may have been other factors.
“Being in the service kept me pretty active,” he said. “I started in 1941 right out of the University of Wisconsin and went from Wisconsin to Biloxi, Miss. for officer school and then to Miami Beach, Fla. where I met Clark Gable.”
Meeting famous movie actor Clark Gable was not the only opportunity Gail’s service in the Air Force gave him. After leaving the Air Force and transferring to the reserves, Gail managed to hitch a ride to San Antonio on Air Force One during President Harry Truman’s reign. Though he was headed home to Kansas, he couldn’t pass up an opportunity to fly in the elite bird.
Gail was recalled to the Air Force for the Vietnam and Korean wars before his final days of serving were finished, and he was sent overseas to Air Force bases in Germany, France and England.
When his military touring days were over, he set his sights on golf, which he had played throughout his military career, and relocated to California. He taught lessons and managed a golf course in southern California where he met Wanda.
“He was always a great golfer when he was in the service and I met him on the golf course through mutual friends,” she said. “He actually only stopped playing last October after a couple of minor strokes threw off his balance. We played some after that but it is too hard without that balance he used to have.”
Gail said he was a member of the golf team at the University of Wisconsin and attended several Air Force golf tournaments during his years of service.
“I have been golfing since I was 15 years old and I started as a caddy,” Gail said. “I learned the game then and I had been playing ever since.”
The Vogels decided to pack up and move north from their home in Redlands, Calif. to escape the traffic and congestion of the southern coast. With some family living in Reno, they tried out some quiet neighborhoods in parts of west and northwest Reno before settling for the Spanish Springs area.
“It has been the best move we have ever made. We wanted out of the rat race and we wanted to downsize,” Wanda said. “It is very quiet and we belong to a really friendly neighborhood here. We couldn’t have asked for any better.”
With only a year to go before reaching the seemingly unattainable 100, Gail said he plans to continue doing what has gotten him this far. He and Wanda are both active at the Sparks United Methodist Church and venture out into the community often.
“Keeping busy and staying active, that’s the secret,” he said. “There is always something to do or somebody to go see because we have such good neighbors here. I plan to keep on living and being a companion to Wanda, and we have a good life here. I have enjoyed life and I’ve been around, that’s for sure.”