Twice retired Craig resident still working

Retirement, heart problems haven't stopped man's contributions to the work force

What Jerry Vogelsang did with his time for more than 40 hours a week for 20 years is a secret a secret he was forced to keep from his wife and his children, making both married life and fatherhood difficult.

"When my kids were in school and people asked what their dad did, they said it was a secret," he said. "It was hard being married and not being able to talk about my work. You get so used to being alone, it's hard to make a marriage work."

Each time he left home, he crossed oceans and time zones, moved by airplane and automobile, but rarely did his family know where he was going.

Vogelsang worked as an intelligence officer for the federal government for 21 years, and in law enforcement for 30 years.

He loved the work so much that he has retired from it twice, and the 71-year-old Craig man still isn't sure he's ready to give it up.

Vogelsang retired for the first time after working for 20 years as a reserve officer with the San Diego Sheriff's Department, where he spent two-and-a-half years as a detective with the gang unit.

He was the only reserve ever to be assigned to a unit.

For a portion of his career as a law enforcement officer in California, Vogelsang continued his work on classified military intelligence programs. His classification was at a level higher than top secret.

"The level of the job and the fact that I traveled all over the world and met a lot of high-ranking people made it a great job," he said. "There's history and beauty everywhere I've gone. I'd go back to all of them, and yet, I know they wouldn't be the same."

Vogelsang couldn't decide which job he liked best.

He started working for the federal government in 1966 and began his career in San Diego in 1968. He quit working for the federal government in 1987 and for the sheriff's department in 1988.

"A lot of days I put in 16 hours," he said. "I enjoyed them both. I'd go back and do them both again. I'd turn back the clock. They were both wonderful jobs."

The jobs were similar in that they both entailed intelligence work. In the three years he worked undercover with the San Diego Sheriff's Department, the gang unit was able to document more than 3,000 gang members in the unincorporated areas of San Diego County.

He also worked undercover in narcotics both dangerous units.

"It has always been the same out there," he said. "I'm not one to be afraid. I think if you have to be afraid of the job, you shouldn't work the job."

Vogelsang was never injured in the line of duty.

He officially retired in 1988 at the age of 58 and moved to Craig. But Vogelsang, who started selling newspapers on a street corner in Denver when he was in kindergarten, and has worked everyday since, wasn't prepared for a life of leisure.

"I can't sit," he said. "I've got to be doing something every single day. I'll be working until I fall over."

So Vogelsang volunteered to work at the Moffat County Sheriff's Department. He stayed there until 1994, when he transferred to the Craig Police Department.

In 1996, he left the police department and returned to the sheriff's department. He retired from law enforcement for the second time in 1998 because of heart problems.

During those 10 years, Vogelsang was never on the payroll of either department. He donated both his time and experience as a detective.

"Here you get the opportunity to do things you would never get the opportunity to do in California meet people, participate in politics," he said.

Vogelsang spent two terms as the chairman of the Republican Central Committee, was appointed by the governor to the 14th Judicial District Nomination Committee and worked on several political campaigns.

He was also earned the United Way Volunteer of the Year Award in 1996.

"I felt that, since I was directly or indirectly working for some government agency since seventeen days after I turned 17, I just felt it was time to give something back," he said."

He enlisted in the Navy in 1947, and that was where he learned, by accident, his trade.

Vogelsang enlisted with the goal of getting into law enforcement, but he did so well on his entrance exams that the military decided he would do better in electronics.

"Of course, that was a time when electronics was newly born," he said.

He worked as a field engineer for RCA for nine years and then started work with the federal government in intelligence.

A couple of years later, he began working with the San Diego Sheriff's Department as a patrol officer, and was promoted to captain before starting his work with special units.

"I like the behind-the-scenes detective work, not patrol," he said. "That's the kind of work I enjoy going out and raising hell."

Vogelsang and his wife tried for seven years to have a baby. When they couldn't, they adopted a boy

Shortly after that, his wife gave birth to two girls.

His children are now spread across the county, living in California, Arizona and Montana.

"I feel I couldn't have had a better overall life than I've had as far as doing things," he said.

Vogelsang was born in Harrison, Mo. He had been traveling to Northwest Colorado to hunt and camp and wanted to return when he retired.

Now, Vogelsang gives his time to Craig Sports.

"I used to say I'd like to move to Colorado, be a deputy sheriff and work in a gun store and I've done both," he said.

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