He was born in Cleveland in 1896, and raised in an orphanage. Interested in aviation since childhood, in 1912, at age 16, he built and flew his first airplane. By age 18, he had built and flown a second airplane, a biplane. In 1915, he moved to Sandusky to work with another Sandusky aviation pioneer, Thomas Benoist. "Reiny" (as he was known to his friends) worked as both a production assistant and flight instructor, until Benoist's tragic death in 1917.
In 1918, during the First World War, Ausmus joined the U.S. Army as a flight instructor, and taught combat pilots in Wichita Falls, Texas for the duration of the war and after. He left active duty in the Army in 1919, after a plane crash (shown below) that killed his passenger and nearly killed him; he received multiple broken bones, and suffered from the effects of the crash for many years.He was an advocate for veterans' welfare from his early days until his death in 1970. Beginning as the Veterans Service Officer for American Legion Post 83 in 1922, he was appointed the first Erie County Veterans Service Officer in 1949, serving in that position until 1969.
Our thanks to Bob Daniel for gathering the information about "Reiny" Ausmus (seen here in his later years, with his famous checkered cap) and for sponsoring his nomination to the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame.