SOUTH BOARDMAN — Gene A. Stephenson, 82 of South Boardman and formerly of Traverse City, passed away unexpectedly at home on March 15, 2014.
Gene was born May 25, 1931 to Ray and Mini (Cavitch) Stephenson who preceded him in death, along with his first wife Nancy and his brother Walt.
Gene is survived by his wife Julianne (Darga) of 28 years, his stepson and eternal buddy Chris (Lisa) Richter of Suttons Bay, a daughter Kerri (Rogers) of Traverse City, and a son Gene of Sea Side, Calif.; a brother Larry (Bev) Stephenson, a sister Sharon (Bob) Hammacher, both of Traverse City; two grandsons Ethen (Walters) and Eric Stephenson; step grandchildren Brittany Richter of Tucson, Ariz., Kyle Richter of Traverse City, and Lily and Daisey Richter, both of Suttons Bay.
Gene served in the United States Air Force and received an honorable discharge with the rank of Sergeant in 1952 after returning home from his time in Korea during the Korean War, and was a member of the American Legion Post 35 of Traverse City.
Gene enjoyed many career changes over the years – with experiences in everything from aviation to insurance inspections. Gene loved aviation and had logged many hours flying various fixed wing aircraft in his younger years. Gene was employed early on at Michigan Bell Telephone. He was the owner of G.E. Communications and was involved with the establishment of Grand Traverse County’s emergency dispatch radio system. He obtained national fire inspector and investigator accreditations from the National Fire Academy in Emmetsburg, Md. and was a member of the Grand Traverse County Rural Fire Department. He helped to establish and build the Northwestern Regional Fire Training Center and was an honor deputy of the Leelanau County Sheriff’s department.
After retirement Gene managed the Town and County Mobile Home Community for eight years, where he made many friends. Gene spent his final years of retirement working as an insurance inspector until a stroke in June of 2012 finally slowed him down.
Gene will be dearly missed by his sweetheart, Julianne, and all his friends and loved ones. At Gene’s request cremation has taken place and a private graveside celebration for the circle of Gene’s life will be held on May 25, 2014 at the Memorial Gardens Cemetery.