Harold E. Forgostein

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Harold E. Forgostein, an artist and teacher, was Guardian-in-Chief of the Temple of the People from 1968-1990, succeeding Pearl F. Dower.

Personal life and career

Harold Emmanuel Forgostein was born on May 11, 1906 in Marquette, Michigan to David and Mary Forgostein.[1]

He attended high school in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where he was staff cartoonist for the weekly school paper and for the yearbook. He was selected as a member of the National High School society for his political cartoons. As a young man, Harold had opportunities to explore the beautiful countryside of the Great Lakes area, where his family returned to spend summers, after the family had moved to Pennsylvania. In later life, he liked to share fond memories of long hours spent alone, paddling along the quiet waterways in a canoe. His love of virgin nature would later be evident in much of his artwork.

Harold graduated from Carnegie (Tech) Mellon in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with a B.A. in Painting, in 1927. He worked for two years to save enough money to go to New York to pursue a career in commercial art and painting.

In September of 1929, Harold arrived in New York. His commercial art career plans dashed by the Depression, he took a job teaching art to adults through the WPA program. Besides working, Harold also found time to make daily trips to various art museums and galleries, and to paint.[2]

On May 14, 1937, Harold married Carolyn Mitchell in New York City. She worked as a librarian.[3]

In addition to cartoons, oils and watercolors, Mr. Forgostein was especially known for creating whimsical mobiles from recycled materials.

Following his death at the age of 83 in March 1990, he was buried in Halcyon Cemetery.[4]

Involvement with Temple of the People

During the year of the Great Depression, Harold became aware of the Temple through a friend. He was asked to paint a series of oil paintings of Hiawatha for the permanent collection in Halcyon.

In 1941, Harold moved to California to live in Halcyon. Over the years, between work and community responsibilities, Harold finished the majority of the Hiawatha oils, and began to paint watercolors of the dunes, a subject that fascinated him and led him to paint over 800 works.

In 1947, Harold began teaching art, drawing, design, watercolor, and still life painting to adult education classes at San Luis Obispo, and later in Morro Bay. Several of his students became the core group for the formation of the San Luis Art Association, an organization that continues to flourish today. Throughout this period he continued to paint, both in watercolor and is oil, a body of work of diverse subject matter and masterful technique, filled with love for the forces of nature and the drama and mystical significance of the moment.

In 1967 Harold retired from teaching, and in 1969 became Guardian-in-Chief of the Temple of the People.[5]

Harold was a deep student of Theosophy and the Temple teachings and brought his considerable knowledge and skill to the job of Guardian in Chief when Mrs. Dower died in 1968. He continued to be a masterly teacher and an inspiration to all until his death in 1990.[6]


  1. 1910 U. S. Census.
  2. "Harold E. Forgostein" at FindaGrave.com. Accessed 26 March 2020.
  3. "Harold Forgostein" in the New York, New York, Marriage License Indexes, 1907-2018.
  4. "Harold E. Forgostein" at FindaGrave.com. Accessed 26 March 2020.
  5. "Harold E. Forgostein" at FindaGrave.com. Accessed 26 March 2020.
  6. "Harold E. Forgostein" at FindaGrave.com. Accessed 26 March 2020.