Gene was a 1947 graduate of Kennett High School. He worked briefly for Western Union before going to work for the CB&Q Railroad as a telegrapher in 1948. He enlisted in the US Air Force in 1950 and served in Korea as a radio operator. He married Peggy Janice Thomas, also of Kennett, Feb. 11, 1952 in Kennett, Mo. The couple lived briefly in Merced, Calif. before settling in Ottumwa in September 1953 upon completion of his military service. Their only child, a daughter, Lee Ann, was born in 1954.
For 42 years Gene was a dedicated employee of the CB&Q, which later became the Burlington Northern Railroad. He quickly became a Wire Chief and later the Office Manager in Ottumwa. He really loved his work and was good at it, identifying many ways to improve operations and efficiency. In the mid-60’s he was recruited for a management position in Chicago which he declined because he did not want to move his family. He was also self-employed as a television repairman for almost 40 years.
Gene was a devoted husband and father who worked hard his whole life. He had a wonderful talent for figuring out how things work and was frequently called upon by friends and organizations to fix electronic, mechanical or computer-related problems. He loved his country quite passionately and avidly followed current events. Having grown up on a farm he had a great appreciation for the land and loved living in the Midwest. He was a very personable man who loved animals, the company of friends, and sharing good food and good humor.
Gene was preceded in death by his wife, Janice, on Feb. 16, 2005. He is survived by his daughter and son-in-law, Lee and David Lemal of Norwich, VT, and his brother, Paul C. Gabriel of Quincy, IL.
His body has been cremated. Memorial services will be Nov. 15, 2007 in Ottumwa, Iowa.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Ottumwa YMCA.
Reece Funeral Home in Ottumwa, Iowa is in charge of arrangements.