Eugene "Gene" Klinger
After nearly 30 years, Eugene “Gene” Klinger has joined his beloved Verna Belle in heaven. Surrounded by his seven children in the family home, Gene passed peacefully on July 22.
Gene is survived by his seven children – Ron (Toni) Klinger, Linda (Ron) Tagman, Sharon (Monte) Dahlstrom, Rich (Peggy) Klinger, Chuck (Karen) Klinger, Sherri Klinger and Terri (Reva Savala) Klinger.
Gene is also survived by his 12 grandchildren – Scott (Denise) Klinger, Gretchen (Tom) Cadora, Ryan (Leah) Klinger, Roni Sue (Aaron Phillis) Toyra, Holly (Jeff) Klingelhoffer, Heidi (George) Shedd, Keisha (Kelley) Ferguson, Brandon (Stephanie) Klinger, Kyle (Nikki) Klinger, Jeff Klinger, Matt (Janell) Klinger and Isaac Klinger.
Gene leaves behind 22 great-grandchildren – Madison Klinger, Blake Klinger, Kyan Klinger, Kari Klinger, Andrew Cadora, Billie (Tighe) Dickinson, Josie Toyra, Hunter Klingelhoffer, Cody Klingelhoffer, Nathan Klingelhoffer, Kenzie Shedd, Kaylee Shedd, Colton Ferguson, Ella Ferguson, Danielle Klinger Wegner, Lindsay Klinger Wegner, Zachary Klinger, Hayden Klinger, Kate Klinger, Carson Klinger, Kallie Klinger and Brooklyn Klinger.
In addition to his immediate family, Gene is survived by several nieces and nephews. Last, and certainly not least, Gene leaves behind Roscoe P. Klinger – his beloved dog and consummate companion.
Eugene Klinger was born on October 1, 1924 to Bernard and Grace (Rand) Klinger. He was born in Winona, Minnesota where he spent his childhood along with his four siblings – Bill Klinger, Earl Klinger, Ruth Kukowski and Margaret Hengel.
At the age of 17, Gene lied about his age and enlisted in the United States Navy. He’d serve the next four years aboard the USS Salamaua (CVE-96).
During a brief trip to port in Bremerton, Gene caught the eye of Shelton native Verna Belle Hurst. For the next few years, they exchanged countless love letters to stay in-touch. Following Gene’s honorable discharge, he returned to Verna Belle and they married on October 25, 1945.
Almost 70 years later, Gene made good on his promise to love her all the days of his life.
Gene and Verna Belle would eventually settle in Grays Harbor. He worked for both Anderson Middleson and Weyerhauser, before spending over 30 years at Simpson Timber Company. He retired as a Construction Superintendent at Camp Grisdale and Govey.
In addition to his work at Simpson, Gene started a small shake mill in his garage – a business endeavor he’d eventually bring to Montesano.
Gene and Verna Belle raised their seven children in Grisdale. He made it his goal that his children would never go without – all while instilling the value of hard work. Together, the nine Klingers enjoyed berry picking at the secret hot spots, cascara bark peeling, trips to the swimming hole, fir cone picking and picnic lunches.
Gene was an avid traveler and visited 49 of the 50 states. Gene and Verna Belle would take a trip any chance that they could get. Hawaii, Mexico and Australia were just a few of their favorite destinations.
In addition to raising his family, his work and his traveling, Gene was an active member of the VFW, Elks, Moose and Eagles.
Later in life, Gene’s days were simple. He began his mornings drinking coffee at the Beehive alongside his best friend Ed Prkut. One of his favorite pastimes included exercising his quick wit on anyone who would listen – waitresses, friends and even out-of-towners.
Gene spent his days tending to his garden, watching WWII documentaries, and making the occasional trip to the casino to play slot machines. While gambling, he’d occasionally indulge in a glass of white zinfandel – or two.
His favorite times were those he shared with his family. He got endless enjoyment out of making his way to softball games, football games, school recitals, etc. He took an enormous amount of pride in his family – even through his gentle teasing that was all but unyielding.
Gene especially enjoyed holidays – he hosted Christmas morning for the entire Klinger family in his home every year. Grandma Klinger’s famous biscuits were always on the menu. Thanksgivings were spent at Monte Lanes – a more comfortable setting for the 60+ Klingers who showed up on any given year. He also made his way to countless birthday parties, weddings and family dinners.
Gene’s time with us may be over, but his story is only just beginning. His example of unconditional love, devotion to family, hard work and unwavering commitment to doing the right thing will live on in the family and friends he leaves behind.
For so many, he was a reminder of what was good in the world. Gene was a simple man whose number one priority was always clear – be the best husband, father, grandpa and friend he could be. He made us laugh. He encouraged us. He called us out – when necessary. A master of tough love, he left absolutely no doubt how much he cared for his family and friends.
As for the seven of us who called him ‘Dad’ and 34 of us who called him ‘Grandpa’, we will always count our relationship with Gene as one of life’s greatest blessings.
A graveside service will be held at the Wynoochee Cemetery on August 14 at 11:00 AM. A reception will follow at the Moose Lodge in Montesano.
The Klinger Family suggests that memorials be made to the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (383 Main Avenue 5th Floor, Norwalk, CT 06851).
To share memories or to light a memorial candle, please visit www.harrisonfamilymortuary.com. Funeral arrangements are entrusted to the Harrison Family Mortuary of Montesano.