Associate Professor Emeritus Charles Spurgeon Gossman passed away April 2, 2014, in Lynden, Wash., where he had lived since 1968. He was born July 28, 1925, in Petaluma, Calif., to Anna and Spurgeon Gossman. When Charles was 9, the family moved to Puyallup, Wash., where they started a poultry farm. He left high school at 17 to join the U.S. Marine Corps and serve in WWII. He survived combat during the invasion of the Marianas Islands but was severely injured while his unit was training for the upcoming battle at Iwo Jima. Charles spent many months recovering in naval hospitals in Hawaii, California and Washington. He returned to Puyallup High School, but shortly afterward, when he was confronted by a teacher for reading comic books in class, the combat veteran walked out and never came back. About this time he met Naomi Beyler, and they began dating. The two wed June 4, 1949, and remained devoted to one another throughout their nearly 65-year marriage. After receiving a GED, Charles earned a degree in sociology from the University of Puget Sound and held a series of jobs, including with the Washington Department of Employment Security and the U.S. Navy. Charles then decided to return to school and earn his Ph.D. in sociology at the University of Washington. He subsequently taught sociology, demography and statistics at Western Washington University until his retirement in 1991. He was particularly proud of the graduate students he advised, many of whom went on to prestigious positions in the field. Charles was kind hearted and extremely devoted to his family. He is also remembered for his wry, impish sense of humor, his curiosity and imagination, his wide range of hobbies that included photography, playing the piano, astronomy, drawing and painting, motorcycling, tinkering with short-wave radios, working with computers, doing carpentry, hiking and camping. He was a voracious reader and had a wealth of knowledge both trivial and profound. He was a great rescuer and adopter of animals, including numerous stray cats, chickens and a baby weasel. Charles was preceded in death by his parents and his sister, Frances Gossman Bains. He is survived by his wife, Naomi, and their sons, Bill Gossman (wife Susan) and John Gossman (wife Jacqueline). No memorial service is immediately planned. The family suggests donations to the Christian Health Care Center, 855 Aaron Drive, Lynden, Wash. 98264, or the DRL - Demography Scholarship Endowment, WWU Foundation, 516 High St., Bellingham, Wash. 98225 http://www.wwu.edu/soc/give.shtml.
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Published in Bellingham Herald on Apr. 6, 2014