Born in Dallas, Texas on September 15, 1915, Robert Gottschall, athlete, traveler, writer, retired U.S. Army Lt. Colonel, and former 20th Century-Fox motion picture star, died peacefully on January 3, 2005. He was 89 years old.
Bud was preceded in death only two months ago by his adored wife of 62 years, Mary Sue (Mills) Gottschall. He is survived by two sons, Bob Gottschall of Wimberley and Mark Gottschall of Lawrence, Kans.; one daughter, Nancy Brundrett of Kenedy; six grandchildren: Geno Gottschall of Austin, Ari Pozos of Wichita Falls, Michael Gottschall of Austin, Ariel Gottschall of Santa Fe, N.M., Joshua Gottschall, and Ashley Brundrett of Austin; three great-grandchildren: Naomi Gottschall, Dayton Pozos, and Jude Gottschall. He is also survived by his toy poodle, Baby.
An avid sports fan, Bud met Babe Ruth in 1929 when he was 13, and the Babe gave him an autographed baseball. The ball has been in our family ever since and now resides at the Legends of the GameMuseum in Arlington, Texas.
After having earned honors as an outstanding R.O.T.C. cadet officer, upon graduation from North Dallas High School, Bud worked his way across the Atlantic in 1936 on an ocean liner and spent the next year pedaling a bicycle through Holland, France, England, and fast-rising Nazi Germany. He was present in Brandenburg, Germany when Adolph Hitler delivered one of his many powerful speeches to a crowd of thousands. Bud was very careful to conceal his Jewish heritage while he was in Nazi-controlled areas.
Bud developed a passion for acting in 1937 and joined the Dallas Little Theater. After a tour of Canada with the summer-stock cast, he traveled to Hollywood. Six months later he landed an acting contract with 20th Century-Fox and was given the screen name Bob Shaw. He remained in the movie business until he joined the Army in 1942. Among his many film credits are the classic The Grapes of Wrath with Henry Fonda, Adam Had Four Sons with Ingrid Bergman and Susan Hayward and 20,000 Men a Year, a war movie, with Randolph Scott. In addition, he was the star and hero of the 15-episode Screen Gems Studio motion picture serial The Son of the Guardsman. His Hollywood friends included actresses Maureen O Hara, Judy Garland, Betty Grable, Linda Darnell, and Jane Withers; actors Forrest Tucker, Jackie Cooper, Jimmy Stewart, Buddy Ebson, Tyrone Power, Cesar Romero, and Richard Payne; directors John Ford and Sam Katzman; producer David Selznick; agent Zeppo Marx; and actress/Olympic Gold Medal ice skater Sonja Henie.
After boot camp early in 1942 at Fort Bliss, Oklahoma, where he also met his future wife Mary Sue, Bud was assigned to the Army Signal Corps. He excelled so rapidly that he was promoted from PFC to Sergeant after only six weeks. He went on to attend OfficersCandidateSchool in Fort Monmouth, N.J., where he graduated with honors and was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant in August 1942. Immediately after he was commissioned, and true to his promise, he married Mary Sue Mills of Oklahoma City on August 15, 1942.
Bud returned to Hollywood with Mary Sue after World War II. They remained in California until 1948, when Bud decided to rejoin the Army at the rank of Major. He often declared that his proudest achievement was leaving Hollywood and pursuing a military career to build a stronger connection with his wife and children. Bud's service in the military led him and his family to travel to many exotic places such as Taiwan, where he helped to introduce little league baseball in 1957.
Bud lived a life most men only dream of.Although he was a skilled storyteller who enjoyed relating his glamorous and exciting Hollywood adventures, his amazing stories were always told with grace and humility.
After retiring from the military in 1963, at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, Bud moved back to his native state of Texas. Eventually, he bought a home in Kenedy where he and Mary Sue lived until they sold their house and moved to a retirement community in Victoria in 1997. Bud moved to Austin to be closer to his family after Mary Sue's death last November.
As a result of continued failing health and a broken heart over the death of his true love, Bud finally left this life behind. May they both rest in peace knowing that we loved them so. Full Military Honor Guard Memorial Services will be held at Tuesday, January 11, at the FortSamHoustonNationalCemetery in San Antonio. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to the Robert Gottschall Memorial Fund c/o Mark Gottschall, 1212 Pennsylvania, St., Lawrence, KS66044.
Published in the Austin American-Statesman on 1/9/2005.