Eugene "Gene" R. Peters
81, Westfield, passed away Tuesday April 29, 2014, due to injuries suffered in a tragic accident. He was born on November 3, 1932 to Elmer Peters and Edna (Kleist) Peters, who were farmers in the Kouts/Wanatah area of Northern Indiana. He had one brother, Donald, who was two years younger.
Born in an era when electricity was still unavailable to many rural Indiana communities, he lived his early years in a home with a single coal stove, kerosene lamps, and no indoor plumbing. Farm life was difficult, and Gene and his brother spent most of their youth helping their parents run the farm. Typical of family farms of the era, nearly every conceivable agricultural product was produced in some measure, including dairy, cattle, hogs, poultry, corn, soybeans, wheat, and clover/hay. What recreational time was left was spent with Lionel trains (after electricity), control-line model airplanes, and the free movies in Wanatah on Saturday nights. Influenced by the large steam locomotives of the Pennsylvania and Monon railroads which operated through Wanatah during that period, both boys were fascinated by trains. They also had a keen interest in aviation. When they were young men, Don purchased a Piper J-3 Cub which he and Gene flew from a makeshift grass airstrip on the family farm.
The family attended the Salem United Church of Christ in Wanatah. Gene attended and graduated from the Kouts High School in May of 1950, where he played a trombone in the marching band. Upon graduation, he started a job as a lineman for the REMC (Rural Electric Membership Corporation). Not finding the work to his liking, Gene took a correspondence course in drafting from a school in Chicago. He was able to secure a drafting position at the McGill Bearing Corporation in Valparaiso, IN, which became a turning point in his life. A senior coworker mentored him and encouraged him to pursue a full engineering career, something that had never entered his mind given his hard rural upbringing. His high school course of study had been inadequate for admittance to an engineering program, so Gene attended night school in Valparaiso to obtain the prerequisites. He graduated with a Bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering from Purdue University in 1963.
Upon graduation, he moved to Indianapolis and secured a position with the Diamond Chain Corporation as a sales engineer. In the early 1970s , he took a job with the International Harvester Corporation (now Navistar) at the Brookville Rd facility (now closed) which manufactured diesel engines for trucks. Gene served as a plant engineer in the machine-shop side of the facility where the final assembly and testing of the engines was completed. Ultimately, Gene was promoted to head of the Plant Engineering department, a position from which he retired in 1996.
In 1966 Gene began dating Bernice Ilene Stiffler, a young librarian who had recently moved to Indianapolis from Altoona PA to be closer to her brother, W.R. Stiffler. Gene and Bernice were married on January 8, of the same year, and shortly after purchased land next to Bernice's brother in Westfield, where they built a southern-colonial-style house of Gene's own design. The couple had one son, Mark, who, influenced by his father's interests in aviation and engineering, became an aerospace engineer and now holds multiple degrees from Purdue.
Gene's hobbies and interests included travel, U.S. History, gardening, woodworking, computers, aviation , genealogy, and railroad history. Due to their love of history and travel, Gene and his wife traveled extensively throughout the Eastern United states, and were particularly fond of Cape Cod in Massachusetts, where they vacationed annually for many years.
Gene is survived by his son Mark Peters; his brother Donald Peters; nephew Rodney Peters; niece Pamela Peters Dotson, and cousin Carol Kleist Ownbey. Visitation will be held in the Chapel of Carmel United Methodist Church, where Gene and Bernice were members, on Saturday, May 10, 2014 from 9:30 a.m. until 11:00 a.m. The funeral service will follow at 11:00 a.m. with Reverend Jack King officiating. Leppert Mortuary, Smith Carmel Chapel , is assisting the family during their loss. Memorial contributions may be made to the Indiana Transportation Museum, Forest Park, Noblesville, IN 46060; or The Potter's Wheel, 333 Jefferson Avenue, Evansville, IN 47713. If you would like to sign the online guestbook or send condolences to the family you may do so by visiting: