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Walter D. NAGEL

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Walter D. NAGEL Obituary
Fashion icon Walter D. Nagel, 92, of 1707 N. 12th St., and formerly of Chicago, died at 1:23 a.m. Wednesday (Dec. 16, 2009) in Blessing Hospital with his wife by his side. He was born Oct. 12, 1917, in New York, N.Y., a son of Harry and Fannie Nagel. His wife Margaret survives. Walter was a student at the University of Arkansas when World War II started. An Army recruiter came to the university and requested the electrical engineering students sign up for the armed services. Each was recruited as a first lieutenant, officer status, and each received his degree early. Walter took advantage of this opportunity and served in the Army Signal Corps and continued in the corps after the war, serving in Japan, Panama and Canada. After completing his service, he was scheduled to work for Admiral Manufacturing in Washington, D.C. Walter went to stay with a buddy from the war in Chicago, pending the job. While there, he applied for work with an employment agency for an interim job and landed a position selling lace to department stores, bridal shops, etc., in Chicago. He noticed these shops had very few bridal gowns, and they could not meet demand. He offered to acquire some gowns from a friend in New York, and the gowns sold immediately. Walter knew a golden opportunity when he saw it, and soon, with unlikely help from competitors, he opened his own factory making his own gowns. This new venture into the fashion industry was an immediate success. He named his company Carol Gowns after his first wife. Eventually, Walter opened showrooms nationwide. He ran this successful business for 44 years. Peg Zwecker, longtime fashion editor for the Chicago Daily News and the Sun-Times, frequently praised his fashions in her column. Walter loved fly fishing and tying his own flies. He fished and traveled all over the U.S., Europe, the Far East, Australia and New Zealand. He was known by the French word bon vivant (living the good life) and as a first-class raconteur (storyteller). He loved to tell jokes, had a great smile, was always jovial and was a great dancer. He took great pride in taking care of his employees and was a great businessman. When issues arose with business partners, suppliers, etc., Walter had a natural ability to smooth things over. He was a man of unbelievable charisma and grace. He was an owner of racehorses and enjoyed riding horses in the wilds of Montana. He loved his dogs, Sam and Ace. He was an avid swimmer, and as a young man, he was captain of the swim team at CCNY, where he swam the butterfly stroke and broke the record for speed in freestyle. Walter was also a regular columnist on fashion for the Chicago Playbill. In April 2009, Walter was inducted into the Vintage Fashion Hall of Fame. Recently, he had been selected and asked to visit the World War II Memorial in Washington with the Honor Flights program but was not able to attend because of his poor health. Walter and his wife were active members of both the Quincy and the Adams County historical societies, as well as the Quincy Art Center and the Quincy Museum. They were also members of the Mississippi Thespians, where they greatly enjoyed dressing in period costume and participating in re-enactments and costume balls. They also had a great passion for the Quincy Community Theatre. Survivors in addition to his wife include a sister, Charlotte Lang, of South Setauket, N.Y.; three nephews, Noel Nation of Florida, and Fred Lang and Elliot Lang, both of New York; and several great- and great-great nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents and a sister, Rose Nation. MEMORIALS: Illinois Veterans Home Activities Fund, 1707 N. 12th St., Quincy, IL 62301, or Expect a Miracle Foundation, 1881 Rose Road, Lake Zurich, IL 60047, www.expectamiraclefoundation.org. ARRANGEMENTS: Hansen-Spear Funeral Home. WEB SITE: www.hansenspear.com. Condolences may be expressed online at www.whig.com.

Published in Quincy Herald-Whig from Dec. 30, 2009 to Jan. 5, 2010
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