Gene Kwas "Gene Kwas" to all who knew and loved him was born Eugene Stanley Kwasniewski on October 14, 1922, the middle of 7 boys. Though he couldn't speak fluent English until 2nd Grade, athletic ability earned him 10 sports letters in posh Evanston High School. His strength was speed, breaking the 100-yard dash time in high school under 10 seconds, bettering Jim Thorpe's record. He attended a special State dinner with the Governor, unheard of for an immigrants' son, and received a football scholarship to the University of Illinois. He did not become an opera singer, as encouraged by the Choir Mistress of Evanston HS Elite Concert Choir. WW II interrupted sophomore year sending him to the Air Force, a "90 day Wonder," drafted and "instantly" made an officer. A Bombardier at age 19, he was taught how to fly a B-17 bomber, and was off to Bari, Italy. The War over, he resumed his career as a football half-back hero and decorated war veteran, with a win against UCLA Rose Bowl of 1947. Playing poker nights, he was able to fund his law degree in 1950; then practicing in Peru, IL, to be close to his college sweetheart. Gene married Lillian Marie Forcht in 1950, a happy 63 year union. Gene joined the FBI assigned to San Mateo, CA, where daughter Anne was born. He was a Special Agent for 5 years during the turbulent McCarthy era. Gene accepted a claims position with Allstate Insurance in Houston, TX. He retired 28 years later as a Vice President with a 6th floor corner office overlooking Northbrook, IL. He missed Texas, retiring in Austin in 1984. He passed the Texas Bar first in the class over recent UT graduates and hoped to set up shop, then decided a better goal was to play a few rounds of golf with friends. He belonged to: KC, American Legion Post 326, Insurance Security Assn., American Soc. of Industrial Security, Ex- Special FBI Agents, Austin Diocesan Forum, Barton Creek Duplicate Bridge, Fairways Poker, IL and TX Bar Assns., and Onion and Barton Creeks Men's' Golf Associations. This year, his college fraternity, Psi Upsilon, honored Gene in their "Men of the Century" with a football photo on its cover. Gene made others feel good about them with his sense of humor. The days before cancer took him; he sang or hummed melodies true to his operatic soul but most at peace with his faithful life. He is survived by his wife Lillian; daughter, Anne and husband Ron Gentuso; grandson, Joseph; and many nieces and nephews and children. The family will receive friends from 6:00 P.M. to 8:00 P.M., Tuesday, November 20, 2012 with a Recitation of the Rosary beginning at 7:00 P.M. at St. John Neumann Catholic Church, 5455 Bee Cave Road. A Mass of Celebration will be at 10:00 A.M., Wednesday, November 21, 2012 at St. John Neumann Catholic Church. Condolences may be made at www.cookwaldenforestoaks.com.
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Published in Austin American-Statesman on November 18, 2012