George Gaylord Vandergriff


George Gaylord Vandergriff was born into the large family of William Luther and Mattie Rocelia (Simpler) Vandergriff, being the fifth out of eight children. He was born in Lipan, Hood, Texas on 14 Apr 1916. Most of his family were born and/or raised in this area of Texas, but by 1942 he is in Broward County, Florida. It is a mystery as to why he went here. He married his first wife Olive, sometimes known as Ollie, on 1 Aug 1942 in Broward County, Florida. According to their marriage application, she was a widow and used the name Olive Gibson. I do not know if this was her previously married name or if she reverted to using her maiden name. We didn’t know anything about this marriage until shortly after George’s death, when an Air Force official was questioning my grandmother about it. Apparently he had listed it somewhere on his military paperwork, but no one except for him and my grandmother knew about it (Nana refused to talk about it AT ALL!) It is not known if they had any children. Somehow he wound up in Smyrna, Rutherford, Tennessee and enlisted in the Air Force on 1 Aug 1942. Again, I don’t know what led him to that area when all his family was still in Texas. I find them on the 1945 Florida state census, where he is listed as Army and she works in laundry. This is the last I can find of them together.

It is not known if Olive passed away or if they divorced (I’ve looked), but he married my grandmother, Winifred Mary Ryan, on 1 Jun 1946 in San Antonio, Bexar, Texas. They lived quite a few places during his time in the Air Force, including Newfoundland, Canada. They had two children: my mother, Gaynelle Lea Vandergriff, and her sister Patricia Ann Vandergriff. George retired from the Air Force as a Master Sergeant on 30 Jun 1959 while stationed at Walker’s Air Force Base in New Mexico. George loved basketball. I have a newspaper article dated 17 Mar 1948 from Hampton, Virginia showing him a member of the Langley “Flyers” Air Force Champion basketball team. I remember going over to his house when I was a little girl and there was always a basketball game on. Heaven help you if you got in front of the television during a game!

He and Winnie moved to Paris, Henry, Tennessee shortly after my family moved there from Florida. He passed away there on 16 Nov 1978 from cancer. He is buried at Fort Donelson National Cemetery in Dover, Stewart, Tennessee.George Gaylord Vandergriff tombstone  GeorgeGaylordVandergriff Vandergriffkids PapaNanaand kids PapaandNana25AnniversaryGeorgeGaylordVandergriff&Olivemarriage certificate


Purpose of this blog

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I will be writing short biographies for each one of my grandparents. I hope this information will prove useful to those who need it.