Eugene Richard Fenske “Father” to his friends went to meet Ma’ to watch a western and have lunch at their cabin in the sky on Sunday July 21st, 2019. Gene, 91, passed quietly surrounded by family at Elkhorn Health south of Helena.
Gene was born in Austin, Minnesota April 24th, 1928. His childhood was not an easy one and he spoke little of it. When he had the opportunity to get a waiver and enlist in the Navy, he dropped out of school and did so. Soon after, he shipped out from San Diego to the South Pacific during World War II, spending his time at sea and on a Naval Station in Guam. After the war, he separated from the Navy and proceeded to travel the country doing odd jobs. Gene told stories and had limericks from his times dealing cards in casinos, logging, riding the rails and working as a ranch hand. Working on an oil rig in Wyoming would lead him to his wife, Theresa or Ma’ as he called her at times. He met Theresa as a patient in the hospital where she worked as a nurse after he fell from high on the derrick, landing on his head on the drill plate. Anyone that knew Gene knew how hard his head could be, so the drill plate lost that one. Gene recovered and married Theresa on September 26th, 1961 In Pinedale, Wyoming. In 1963 they had their first son, Darrel, who died shortly after birth. It would not be until 1969 that their second son, Paul, was born in Rawlins, Wyoming. Shortly after his birth they moved to Delnort Colorado and then to Michigan where their third son, Todd, was born in Ishpeming in 1972. In 1975, Gene packed up the family in his Dodge Crew Cab truck “Herman” and a little orange Audi station wagon and moved to Montana. They settled in Helena, where Gene took a job as the head of engineering at St. Peters Hospital. He and Theresa would raise their two boys in their North Helena Valley log home. Gene built almost every bit of their "little log cabin" with the help of his friends Mosby, Pfeffer and Vanderhoff, to name a few. Most of the critical supplies for the build came from Louie’s” Lumber”, twelve cold ounces at a time. Through the 70’s and early 80’s Gene spent his time making trips to Lincoln to get logs for the home, as well as hand quarried rock from north of Helena. When not working on the house, he was fond of spending evenings at the Rustic Inn with friends, maintaining his enormous garden or, when time allowed, taking the boys fishing. Both He and Theresa were avid fishermen. As the boys grew he made time to shuttle them to their activities, one of which was Scouting, which he enjoyed greatly. Gene loved being in the mountains! Even though it was hard work, he looked forward to weekends cutting wood with his friends, in particular Charlie.
In 1997, his first Grandson Jacob was born to Melody and Todd in Adana Turkey. Later, in 2006, Mel and Todd adopted another son, Quaid, whom he also loved very much. Both grandsons brought great joy to Gene and Theresa. By then Gene was retired and would run Theresa around for errands and go check up on his buddies and enjoy a “sandwich”, which was really a beer or two he had stashed somewhere on his person, in case of an emergency. In his later years, as Theresa’s health declined from a long fight with Diabetes, they would move into assisted living, ending up at the Masonic Home in Helena Montana. During those years, they would enjoy coming over to Paul and Nancy’s home on weekends for lunch and to watch a movie, talk and "rest their eyes". Gene enjoyed westerns, he especially loved John Wayne. Their favorite times were when Todd, Mel and their sons would come up from their home out of state for a visit.
Gene overcame many early challenges to provide for and protect his loved ones and will be greatly missed by the many that he interacted with from all walks of life. Please have a Scotch or Raise a beer and toast "Father" Fenske for his sense of humor, hard work and his big as the big sky heart.
Services will be held in Helena, Montana and Rock Springs, Wyoming. Dates to be announced later. If you are interested in attending either, please send an email to both Gene (Paul) Fenske at firstname.lastname@example.org and Todd Fenske at email@example.com (Please make the subject "Father Fenske", so that we can more easily keep track of the emails). Final internment will be in Rock Springs Wyoming. Please visit www.aswfuneralhome.com to offer a condolence to the family or to share a memory of Gene.