Eugene Kennedy was born on Mar. 1, 1923, and passed from this life on Jan. 16, 2009.
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Gene was the second of three children born to Joe and Gladys (Noyes) Kennedy. He grew up on a ranch up the Rosebud Creek in eastern Montana. When he turned 13 years old, the family moved to Manhattan and he graduated from high school there.
After high school, Gene enlisted in the Army Air Corps and served as co-pilot on a B-17 in Italy during World War II. The young men of his flight crew kept in touch as lifelong friends.
Like so many in his generation, Gene returned home after the war to a life dedicated to family and community. He married his childhood friend Lucy Bryson in 1945. He attended the University of Montana in Missoula for 3 years, during which time their daughter Maria was born. They returned to Manhattan and two more children joined the family, Joe and Jane.
Gene spent 13 years working as a clerk in the local U.S. Post Office and also working on his dad's mink farm. Eventually, he became Postmaster and held that post for 15 years until his retirement in 1978.
While raising their family, both Gene and Lucy were active contributors to the Manhattan community. Gene helped found the Volunteer Fire Department and the summer recreation program for the community's kids. He was also involved in the American Legion, the Parent Teacher Association, the city council, civil defense, and Boy Scouts.
After retirement, Gene and Lucy spent 20 years going to Yuma, Ariz., in the winter. Gene had been there for flight training as a young man, and he spent many happy hours out by the air base with his binoculars. He also loved riding his bike all over the place. In the summers, they came home to time filled with family and old friends.
In 2002, Gene lost his beloved partner, Lucy, and found he couldn't be in either Manhattan or Yuma without her. After a period of illness, he relocated to Grizzly Peak Retirement Center in Missoula for 3 years. Since 2005, he has lived in Polson with his son-in-law and daughter, Dave and Jane Morton. He has greatly enjoyed the wildlife and natural beauty on the shore of Flathead Lake.
During his last months, Gene was in the care of his family, aided by the wonderful people of Lake County Hospice. His final month was spent in the loving atmosphere of St. Luke's Extended Care Facility.
Gene was preceded in death by his parents, wife Lucy, brother Jim Kennedy, great-granddaughter Brooke Fleming, and many friends and relatives.
He is survived by his sister Evelyn (Bill) Brainard of Three Forks; sister-in-law Elsie Kennedy, of Manhattan; children Maria Kennedy, of Bozeman, Joe (Danni) Kennedy of Polson, and Jane (Dave) Morton also of Polson; grandchildren Kalee Sprague, Chuck (Amy) Sprague, Angela (Jacob) Ormes, Michelle Fleming, Alex Morton and Mattie Morton; 10 great-grandchildren and 13 nieces and nephews.
Per Gene's instructions, cremation has taken place. A graveside memorial will take place in the future, at which time his remains will be placed side by side with his Lucy in Manhattan, where they lived their life together.
Condolences may also be sent to the family at www.groganfuneralhome.com
Published in Bozeman Daily Chronicle from Jan. 17 to Jan. 19, 2009