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Augustrus Gracious "Gus" Lartius (-2007)


Posted By: Ames Tribune
Date: 2/17/2007 at 09:53:42

THE AMES TRIBUNE, Ames, Story County, Iowa, Thursday, February 15, 2007.

Gus Lartius, of Ames, died at home. Arrangements are pending with Adams Funeral Home.

THE AMES TRIBUNE, Ames, Story County, Iowa, Saturday, February 17, 2007.

"Don't upset the apricots!" sent family and friends into an uproar of laughter as Gus Lartius (or MisterGus as people came to call him) attempted to use an American slang term to share his profound wisdom. It was supposed to be "Don't upset the Apple Cart" but we knew what he meant. As a young man MisterGus came to the U.S. from his native country India where he was the son of a Methodist minister and missionary. He came with a grand mission to make the world a better place for all of us and he never deviated from that goal.
In the '50s he received a degree in civil engineering at the Indiana Institute of Technology. It was there in Ft. Wayne that he met and fell in love with his 50-year-to-be companion Betty Ann Dull, an accomplished artist and writer.
With just $200 in their pocket they moved to Ames in the late '50s when MisterGus landed a job at the Iowa Department of Transportation in the Bridge Design Department. During the midst of work and raising their five children he came to realize his true calling.
In the early '60s he met Martin Luther King Jr. He and Dr. King spoke one on one for about an hour about how to make a "difference." It was a true inspiration for MisterGus who kept Dr. King's autograph on a grocery receipt as reminder of that day.
Seeking a way to act MisterGus became an eloquent speaker and was elected seven consecutive times as president of the Organization of Transportation and State Employees, which had a membership of some 4,000 from all around Iowa. He lobbied the Iowa General Assembly on behalf of state employees for more than seven years for wages, fringe benefits such as health and IPERS retirement and employee working
conditions. He worked tirelessly with Governor Bob Ray and legislators on both sides of the aisle to make something happen.
During this time MisterGus realized the power of the political system and "one vote," that anyone can make a difference with their vote. He encouraged his family and fellows to vote, yet he himself could not. Becoming a naturalized citizen of the United States was a dream come true, something he considered to be one of his greatest accomplishments. In truth he was one of the most patriotic people that any of us have known.
In the '80s MisterGus worked to complete a master's in public administration at Drake University. He then took a position as the director of employment relations at the Iowa Department of Transportation and the associate director of employment relations for the Iowa Department of Personnel. This was a job that he truly loved-helping to settle disputes and problems between employees and state agencies. A conference room was named after Gus Lartius at the Lucas Building upon his retirement after 37 years of service to Iowa.
Retirement, however, was a word that MisterGus and Betty despised. Their best years were yet to come as they leveraged their talents, political connections, the church, community and family to help others. Whether it was a friend in need or a refugee family from Bosnia or electing candidates who would work for the people, MisterGus and Betty could be counted on. At age 80, MisterGus became one of the oldest delegates to the Democratic National Convention in Boston with his daughter Kumari, another national delegate at his side. He was a friend to everyone from the clerk at Hy-Vee to presidential candidates that he had met along the trail. Gus and Betty never became rich or wealthy, but they left a long lasting impact on family, individuals, the community, the state and the country.
Last year his beloved wife and companion, Betty, passed away on Valentine's Day 2006. It rocked his world. For the next year he visited Betty every day at the cemetery in Ames. He organized a fund in her honor with the hopes to continue the good works of her life. While some could have given up MisterGus continued on. He was elected to the board of his grandchildren's school where he worked to help the school to continue to thrive. He traveled to political events, he met Barack and Hillary and Edwards and Kerry and Dean and the list goes on. He kept it going.
The day before Valentine's Day 2007 MisterGus finally joined his beloved Betty so they could celebrate together for all of eternity.
MisterGus is survived by his children, Baba, Kumari, Raj, Anil, Rani and Maya, and grandchildren, Preetu, Satiel, Sheena, Logan, Jeliah Sky, Kelsy and Hallie; sister, Lena and brother-in-law, Vijai Moses.
Visitation will be held from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 18, at Adams Funeral Home. Services will be held at noon Monday, Feb. 19, at the Napier Methodist Church just outside of Ames.
In lieu of flowers please send donations to the Artista Mama Fund in care of the family.


Story Obituaries maintained by Mark Christian.
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