Gene was born in 1932 in South Bend, Indiana to Milo F. and Laura Marie (Wiggins) Matthews. He grew up on the family farm on Butternut Road. At Central High School, Gene ran cross country and track. Gene continued to run at Purdue, where he was a two-time All-American 2-miler.
At Purdue Gene met Virginia Cooper, who would become his wife and partner for 63 years. They started married life during Gene’s Army days, living in Colorado and California, before returning to Indiana. There, Gene worked as a farm manager until they were able to rent a farm near Jamestown. Gene built that farm into a modern dairy operation, and still found time to stack hay bales in ways that let his young daughters pretend they owned a castle.
When they were able to buy a small farm of their own, Gene, Jenny and the girls moved near Lebanon. Gene farmed and worked at an insurance underwriter and field adjustor. In the early 1970s, they sold the farm and moved to Michigantown and a few years later to Burlington, where Gene was a partner in Brewster Insurance.
Once they were no longer farming, Gene and Jenny were able to travel to places those two Hoosier farm kids had only dreamed of seeing. They climbed Ayers Rock in Australia, crossed the Panama Canal, ate muktuk in Alaska and poi in Hawaii, toured farms and flower fields, and saw the sights across North America and Europe. He especially loved Switzerland.
Everywhere they lived or traveled, Gene and Jenny found wonderful friends.
After retiring, Gene and Jenny moved to their dream home in Naples, Florida. For years, Gene delighted in calling his daughters on cold days Up North to report the weather in Naples. Even after their evacuation when Hurricane Irma hit in 2017, there was no place on earth where they would rather live.
Gene took loving care of Jenny at home through the early stages of her dementia. Upon moving to assisted living at Barrington Terrace of Naples, he became a familiar presence in the memory care unit where he visited with his bride.
Gene is survived by his wife Virginia, daughters Mary Lynn (Thomas) Carroll of Jardim do Mar, Madeira, Portugal) and Donna (Bill) Kallner of White Lake, Wisconsin, brother Dale (Randi) Matthews of Madison, Wisconsin, brother-in-law Robert (Norma) Cooper of McCormick, South Carolina, and beloved nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.
A simple service of remembrance will be held at Barrington Terrace.
The family would like to thank the wonderful staff at Barrington for the tender, loving care Gene received, and Avow Hospice for helping on his final journey.