EAST GALESBURG-Gene Raymond Watkins, 72, East Galesburg, died Thursday, April 30, 2009, at 1:28 p.m. at home surrounded by his wife and children after having fought a long and brave battle against pancreatic cancer.
Gene was born Dec. 13, 1936, in Abingdon, the son of John Wesley and Elsie V. (Trimble) Watkins. He married Sandra Kay Roberts May 24, 1964, in Hermon.
He is survived by his wife of nearly 45 years; one daughter, Cynthia Sue (Mike) Karlovich, Peoria; two sons, Barry Gene (Wendi) Watkins, East Galesburg, and Bruce Raymond (Amy) Watkins, Galesburg; three brothers, Russell (Betty) Watkins, Elmwood, Donald (Wilma) Watkins, rural London Mills, and John (Vickie) Watkins, Galesburg; five grandchildren, Jordan and Alex Watkins, Sam and Sophie Karlovich, and Brenon Watkins.
His parents and one granddaughter, Emma Faith Karlovich, preceded him in death.
Gene graduated from Valley Senior High School in Fairview in 1955. After working on the family farm a few years, Gene joined the Army Feb. 16, 1960, and later the Active Army Reserves. He was a field communication specialist.
After an honorable discharge from the Army, Gene worked at Rowe Manufacturing for 12 years and then at Gates Rubber Company for 27 years before retiring May of 2000.
Gene was an avid gardener and a diehard Cardinal fan. He enjoyed buying unique toys to play with his beloved grandchildren.
He was baptized into the faith as a child and then as a young father joined the Knoxville United Methodist Church where he was a member of the Lamplighters Sunday School Class.
A Celebration of Life Service was held Monday, May 4, 2009, in Hinchliff-Pearson-West Abingdon Chapel with the Rev. Robert Herath officiating.
Burial was in Abingdon Cemetery with Military Rites by Harry E. Wiles American Legion Post #381.
In honor of Gene, memorials may be made to Pancreatic Cancer Research, the Knoxville United Methodist Church, or to Costa Catholic Academy.
Online condolences may be made at www.h-p-w.com.