The first thing I did was print a calendar report to see which of my ancestors was born closest to my birthday, December 14. No one. There was one death and one anniversary but no one born on my birthday. So I checked the day before and the day after. My first cousin once removed, Stanley Fitzgerald, Jr., was born on that day in 1937 but since I don’t know much about him and believe he is still living, I decided that wasn’t a good person to write about. Then I checked the day after, December 15, and found a favorite family represented with Mervyn Gunzendorfer, my grandmother’s first cousin. Mervyn was the only son of Jacob Gunzendofer who was the younger brother of my great-grandfather, Abraham Gunzendorfer. Score – I’ll write about Mervyn!
I started putting things together, happy that I had some photos to share, when it hit me – Mervyn wasn’t BORN on December 15 he DIED on December 15. So back I went to my calendar only to find that the only ancestors (or descendants) I have born in December are either a very collateral ancestor or someone still living. It was then that I said to myself – hey, this is MY blog and I can do whatever I want so if I want to write about Mervyn, that’s what I’ll do.
Mervyn Gunzendorfer was born to Edith Inez (Steinberger) and Jacob Gunzendorfer on 4 Apr 1896 in San Francisco. Jacob was the youngest of the four Gunzendorfer brothers and was my grandmother’s uncle.
I first found Mervyn in a Gunzendorfer family photo from 1896. That’s little Mervyn sitting on his mother’s lap on the right (Jacob is behind them and big sister Irene is sitting on the ground) and my grandmother, Mildred Loraine Gunzendorfer, sitting on her mother’s lap on the left with Abraham standing behind them.
The Gunzendorfer Family
Standing: Abraham, Gustave George, Minnie (Dautermann), Adolph, Jacob
Seated: Bertha (Schwartz) w/ Loraine, Ferdinand, Fannie, Inez (Steinberger) w/Mervyn
Loraine was born 26 Jan 1896 so these two cousins were just a few months apart. Within a few years Loraine would become a big sister to Wilton, and Mervyn would become a big brother to Helen.
This picture looks to be just a few months later. Mr. Cutie Patootie Mervyn.
And here’s Jacob with his two oldest children, Mervyn on the left and Irene on the right. Look at Mervyn’s beautiful curls.
The 1900 census shows the family enumerated as Yungendorfer – that’s a new one – and living at 1636 Buchanan in San Francisco. By 1910 the family had moved to 3367 Washington Street in San Francisco where Jacob lived until shortly before his death. With them were two servants plus the 3 year old son of one of the servants.
In 1910, The Technical World Magazine, Volume 13, wrote about a Clever Little Inventor.
Yep, I know that Mervyn, along with his father and uncle Adolph, built a submarine for the Panama Pacific Exposition in 1915. You can read about that HERE.
I found Mervyn in 1914 attending San Francisco Polytechnical College, a high school in San Francisco. The high school yearbook, The Cogswell, shows he served as a government representative and that he had earlier (Nov. 1913) participated in the 120 pound class 440 yard dash, where it looks like his time was 58 seconds. My dad was also a sprinter (100 and 200 yard dash) – must have run in the family. That’s Mervyn sitting, second from right.
On 4 Jun 1917, Mervyn registered for WWI. Still at 3367 Washington Street.
This photo had been floating around in my unknown box but thanks to Irene’s grandchildren whom I connected with a few years ago (read about it HERE), I was able to identify it as Mervyn. He sure looked handsome in his uniform!
By 1920, Irene had moved out, as she married in 1915, and the family was still on Washington Street. I found Mervyn listed at UC Berkeley in 1921 where he served as the Fall Semester President for the Architecture Association.
In 1930, Helen had also moved out but Mervyn was still with Jacob and Inez on Washington Street, along with a maid. He was listed as an Architect, Industry Buildings.
I’ve found many references to Mervyn in the City Directories. In the early 1920’s he just shows a residence on Washington, and then some business listings as an Architect first at 60 Sansome, R100 and then at 405 Montgomery Room 1108. Residence is always the same – 3367 Washington Street – except for 1937 where he’s listed at 3368 Washington Street (must have been a typo). By the 1930’s he’d moved from Room 1108 on Montgomery to Room 820.
Somewhere along the line things changed for Mervyn and he joined his father’s business, Typewritorium. He is shown as Office Secretary in 1937. But later he was back to working as an Architect.
In 1940, Mervyn was still on Washington Street with his parents. It showed he had a job, was a Merchant, worked 20 hours per week, and had an income of $900 for the 12 months ending 31 Dec 1939. Maybe he split his time between architecture and typewriters?
My cousins shared this photo of Mervyn in 1957. He seemed like a fun guy – I wish I’d known him.
When Mervyn died 15 Dec 1959, his address is shown as 170 Vasques Street, San Francisco, where he lived with Jacob (Inez died in 1957).
Mervyn never married or had any children. The only other male Gunzendorfer, my grandmother’s brother Wilton, also had no children. So Mervyn and Wilton were the end of the line where Gunzendorfers are concerned.
Mervyn is buried alongside his parents (Unit 5, Catacombs, Tier 3, Crypts 33, 34, 35) at Cypress Lawn Memorial Park in Colma.
And now that I’ve finished this post, I realized I missed Mervyn’s little sister, Helen, who was born 9 Dec 1902. So SHE would have been closest to my birthday. Shoot