Eugene N. Gogel, former co-owner of a Pikesville hardware store and garden center, died Monday. He was 84.
"Gene was very smart and always had a positive personality. He was such a sweet guy, and everyone wanted to be around him," said Arnold M. Weiner, a Baltimore attorney and University of Maryland fraternity brother of Mr. Gogel's.
"Everyone who knew him really liked this guy. And even in his decline, he managed to keep his pleasant and engaging personality," he said. "And he enjoyed every moment that he had."
The son of Louis Gogel, an insurance salesman, and Irene Gogel, a U.S. Census Bureau worker, Eugene Nathan Gogel was born in Baltimore and raised on Garrison Boulevard in Forest Park.
After graduating in 1950 from Forest Park High School, he earned a bachelor's degree in 1954 in food technology from the University of Maryland, College Park and a master's degree in the discipline in 1956, also from Maryland.
"I was his first employee after he received his master's degree from Maryland's agricultural school. That was back in the 1950s," Mr. Weiner recalled.
"He had a grant to study the Maryland canning industry, and me and another fraternity brother he had hired spent the summer from one cannery to another," he said.
From 1956 to 1958, Mr. Gogel served aboard the destroyer USS Kenneth M. Willett as a lieutenant junior-grade and navigator.
He then went to work for Crosse & Blackwell, a food-processing plant on Eastern Avenue, eventually becoming a vice president and plant manager.
After corporate owner Nestle USA closed the plant in 1972, Mr. Gogel purchased Pikesville Hardware with a business partner, Abe Fox.
They eventually added a garden center and renamed the Reisterstown Road business the Pikesville Hardware and Garden Center.
"It was a traditional hardware store parked in the middle of Pikesville," Mr. Weiner recalled. "It provided good service to people who had no idea what they were doing. Gene was a great adviser and taught them how to do the work."
In 1984, Mr. Gogel and Mr. Fox sold the business.
In 1990, Mr. Gogel became an owner of Strasburger and Siegel Inc., a food laboratory located on Eutaw Place that later moved to Dorsey Road in Linthicum, with business partners Alan D. Parker and Supat Sirivicha.
His responsibilities included serving as director of administration and marketing.
"The lab performs a wide range of services for its clients, from chemical tests for the fat and fiber content of food to testing hot peppers for their flavor," according to an article in The Baltimore Sun in 1993.
After the business was sold in 1996, Mr. Gogel worked for several years for QC Laboratory, a Philadelphia food laboratory, before retiring.
Mr. Gogel was "dedicated to Pikesville," said his son, Barry L. Gogel, a Baltimore attorney who lives in Homeland.
"He served as president of the Pikesville Chamber of Commerce from 1977 to 1978, and was founder and first president of the Pikesville Community Growth Corp.," he said.
Mr. Gogel also chaired the Pikesville Revitalization Task Force and had been a longtime member and treasurer of First Step Youth Services, which worked with troubled youth and their families.
For his community work, Mr. Gogel was honored by the Baltimore County Chamber of Commerce.
In 1986, he ran unsuccessfully as a Democrat for a seat in the House of Delegates from District 11.
He enjoyed photography, sailing and riding his bike when he was younger, family members said.
"He loved music and played the ukulele when he was in college, so he liked the Kingston Trio, Burl Ives and folk music. And when he was in the Navy, he spent a lot of time in New Orleans, where he heard lots of good jazz," said a daughter, DebraGogel-Chado of Pikesville.
Mr. Gogel was also a fan of Broadway show tunes and film musicals, Ms. Gogel-Chado said.
"He really enjoyed his family," his daughter said. "He wasn't into country clubs or playing golf and tennis. He valued nonmaterial things, not material things."
Mr. Gogel was a member of Baltimore Hebrew Congregation.
Funeral services were held Wednesday at Sol Levinson & Bros. in Pikeville.
In addition to his son and daughter, Mr. Gogel is survived by his wife of 58 years, the former Jean Frank; another daughter, Linda Perline of Glenelg; and five grandchildren.