Jesse Leonard “J.L.” Gouge, 84, of Hampstead, Maryland, passed away peacefully Saturday, March 14, 2020, at his home.
He was born Jan. 15, 1936, and raised on a tobacco farm in Bakersville. He graduated from Tipton Hill High School in 1954. Following graduation, he attended Tennessee State College. In 1956 he relocated to Hampstead, where he met and married his wife of 61 years, Julia Walsh Gouge.
Jesse was first employed at Top Craft in Owings Mills, Maryland, making countertops alongside his cousins, the Teague brothers. He started his career in trucking by hauling fuel oil and gasoline for Greenmount Fuel. After purchasing his first dump truck, he established Gouge Trucking. He diversified his business by becoming a school bus owner and contractor for the next 10 years. Gouge trucking added multiple tractor-trailer rigs over the years that specialized in hauling mulch.
After 28 years he sold his business, but continued to work for Gray & Son and S.E.H. Construction as a dump truck driver. He then once again drove school buses for several years before retiring.
He had many interests and hobbies.
His wife’s uncle, Clarence Fishpaw, invited him to join the Westminster Lion’s Club. This began a lifelong love of helping others through the Lion’s Club projects. In the process, he established many good friendships with fellow Lions. He served in many officer positions, including president. He was involved not just locally but also attended many state and national conferences.
He was a lifelong member of Shiloh United Methodist Church and, in recent years, he attended Hampstead Baptist Church on a regular basis.
He loved to travel with his wife and family. He visited 48 states, most of which he traveled to by Winnebago. He also has vacationed in 15 different countries around the world and took many Viking River Cruises. His favorite place, however, was home in North Carolina visiting family and friends. He especially looked forward to his high school class reunion every summer and spending time with his best buddy from high school, Scott Griffith.
His favorite sporting event was NASCAR. He loved watching the races in person and on television, and has visited every racetrack at least once. His favorite drivers from the past were Cale Yarborough and David Pearson, and more recently Kyle Busch. The Daytona 500 was his favorite race.
He enjoyed spending time with his family more than anything. He always said, “If you don’t have family, you don’t have anything.” In addition to raising his four children, he and his wife cared for four additional foster children and hosted several exchange students from different countries. Most family gatherings consisted of sitting around the table over a nice meal and lively conversation. He especially enjoyed taking his friends and family out to breakfast.
He was truly loved by his family and died at home under the care of his wife and children.
He is predeceased by his parents, Jess and Georgia Hughes Gouge; son, Jerry Leonard Gouge; his in-laws, Charles and Bessie Walsh; and brothers and sisters-in-law, Marvin Treadway, Charles and Helen Walsh, Carroll and Virginia Walsh, Sterling Walsh Sr. and Lee Gouge.
He is survived by his wife, Julia Walsh Gouge; daughter and son-in-law, Jill and Tony Gebhart; and grandchildren Zachary and his wife, Chelsea, and Daniel and Joseph; son and daughter-in-law, James and Tracy Gouge and grandchildren, Keersten and Kody; and great-grandchildren, Karly, Kinsley, Kennedy and Karson; son and daughter-in-law, Jason and Jill Gouge, and grandchildren Jaclynn, Jazmyn, Jacob and Jamison; brother and sister-in-law Jack and Eloise Gouge, of Weaverville; sister, Charlotte Gouge, of Bakersville; sisters-in-law Marie Treadway, of Atlanta, Georgia, and Gladys Walsh, of Hampstead; and multiple nieces and nephews.
In response to the evolving Covid-19 situation, all services will be private at this time. A celebration of life service will be at a later date. Due notice will be given.
Contributions may be made in his honor to The Shiloh United Methodist Cemetery Fund or The Hampstead Baptist Church Building Fund.