While growing up in Lake County, Florida, Butch Mogavero liked it when Uncle Claude came around because he was a positive influence.  “He would tell me stories about his experiences in the Navy and Sheriff’s department, which, to me, seemed filled with adventure and good deeds. Maybe that’s why I liked being around him.”

Uncle Claude, known around Lake County as Major Claude Alan Gnann, served as a flight navigator aboard the USS Independence in Vietnam. After a successful Navy career, he came back to Florida where he made a name for himself. In his obituary published July 31, 2005, in the Orlando Sentinel, his friends described him as a homespun boy done good. During his 27 years at the Lake County Sheriff’s Department, Gnann rose from jail administrator to second-in-command.  He ran the first SWAT team in the county. He would sleep in his truck to be closer to the action.  He listened to his scanner and would show up at emergencies unexpected.  He would even change light bulbs for the elderly.

Gnann’s  younger sister and Mogavero’s aunt, Candy Noblin, recalls him being bigger than life. “Everyone who knew Claude loved him.  He was the calm with things got nasty and mean.” Noblin remembers once when her brother was called to get a possum out of a home. “Claude caught it by the tail, got it our out of the house, then let it go because he did not want to kill it.”

It was during his years at the Sheriff’s department that Mogavero would see Uncle Claude and his wife, Aunt Linda, four or five times a year. “When I picture him, he is wearing his flight jacket. I remember that jacket being very important to him.”  says Mogavero.  Gnann died in 2005 at the age of 55.  He was buried with his beloved flight jacket. Read the entire Franchising USA story here.