Gus Noble, president of the nonprofit charity Chicago Scots, which operates Caledonia Senior Living and Memory Care in North Riverside, has been recognized as an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE) by Queen Elizabeth II “for service to Scottish culture in the United States of America.”
The OBE, an order of chivalry established in 1917 by King George V to recognize the contributions of British men and women during World War I, is conferred twice a year – on New Year’s Day and on the queen’s birthday. Noble was recognized on the 2021 birthday list.
“It’s an incredible honor for me personally, but I hope everyone here involved with Chicago Scots and Caledonia Senior Living recognizes their role in the accomplishment,” said Noble in a phone interview with the Landmark on June 14. “They’ve given it to me because I have the accent and the kilt, but it’s made possible by everyone working together. There are a ton of people the award is really for.”
Born in Dundee, Scotland, Noble moved to Chicago after graduating from the University of Stirling in 1992. He worked for the British Consulate for seven years and then established the first international office of the Welsh Assembly Government, working there five years.
In 2004, Noble was named president of Chicago Scots and Caledonia Senior Living, which was at that time known as The Scottish Home. As president he’s overseen a capital campaign that resulted in the construction of a state-of-the-art memory care facility and guided the organization through a rebranding effort to help expand its reach.
The nonprofit is the oldest registered charity in Illinois and celebrates its 175th year in 2021.
Noble’s leadership through the COVID-19 crisis helped the institution stay virtually free of the disease and has resulted in 100 percent of residents and 99 percent of staff being vaccinated. Last week, he announced the end of regular COVID-19 testing at Caledonia Senior Living as the institution looks to reconnect residents and their families.
“The lesson I’m learning is that we need to trust the vaccines. They are working,” Noble said. “They’re the gateway drug back to normality, literally.”
Noble said he’s been led to understand that his nomination for an OBE had been in the works for a couple of years but that he hadn’t known about it until he received a call from Alan Gogbashian, the British counsul general in Chicago about two months ago.
“Gus is a champion of Scottish culture across Chicago and the Midwest, and this honor reflects the high level of his decades of contributions,” Gogbashian said in a press release. “Additionally, Gus showed tremendous leadership and resolve at Caledonia Senior Living through the COVID-19 pandemic, where exceptional and effective measures were taken to protect residents from the pandemic.”
Noble said the news he was to receive an OBE “flabbergasted” him. Noble’s father, Robert Noble, was named a Member of the British Empire (MBE) in 2002 for his service to Scottish agriculture by educating the public and mobilizing safety measures in the wake of the hoof-and-mouth crisis in Great Britain the year before.
Noble said he accompanied his father to Buckingham Palace for the grand ceremony, where Robert Noble received the award from Prince Charles. A photo of Noble and his parents outside the palace from that day hangs on the wall of his office at Caledonia Senior Living in North Riverside.
At some time in the future, Noble said he plans to take his wife and two young sons to the UK for his formal investiture, quite possibly at the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the queen’s official residence in Edinburgh.
“As [the OBE] is for service to Scottish culture, it would be appropriate to do it at Edinburgh,” Noble said. “It’s a day I hope will be just as great for my family as it was for me at Buckingham Palace.”