Video courtesy of IVY Tech Community College
Paul W. Ogle Gala Celebration - September 2010
Paul W. Ogle
Paul W. Ogle is remembered as a strong community supporter both in Southern Indiana and his native Vevay, Indiana. During his lifetime, he donated generously to create parks, fuel tourism efforts, rehabilitate historic buildings, support volunteer fire departments and fund scholarships, among many gifts. His name has become synonymous with generosity because of the life he lived and the foundation he established prior to his death.
Mr. Ogle’s extraordinary story starts from very ordinary beginnings. He was born in June 18, 1907, and had one sister, Josephine. He dreamed of attending college and becoming a dentist, but his family ran into hard times in the 1920s so instead of going to college, Mr. Ogle pursued a career as a musician, at least initially.
Upon leaving high school, he formed a band that played on riverboats that traveled from Cincinnati to New Orleans, playing organ and saxophone. Beginning in the 1930s, Paul started a parallel career selling appliances in Vevay and then began selling propane to fuel the stoves he sold. He discussed his business with a ferry captain one day while crossing the Ohio River from Vevay to Kentucky and the captain convinced him propane was the wave of the future. Mr. Ogle went on to establish Silgas in 1934 in Vevay, moving it to Jeffersonville in the 1940s.
As Silgas prospered, he eventually faced a choice, ultimately choosing business over music so in the 1950s, Paul Ogle sold his saxophone and settled down in Jeffersonville to fulfill his aspirations of creating a business that would last generations. That business, Silgas, is still in operation today.
Paul’s experiences of watching his family lose property shaped his personal aspirations. As his business prospered, he sought to help both employees and customers as well as encourage aspiring college students by supporting higher education since he could not go himself. He was as modest as he was generous, living a quiet life of tremendous impact that continues to this day. Today, projects dot Southern Indiana that was made possible because of his selflessness and vision.
Friends say he would have been astounded by the support the Foundation has given to nonprofits and other institutions all around Southern Indiana. His life is a legacy that has lived long past him, and set the example for generations of entrepreneurs coming along behind him.