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Eugene Michael Anthony

October 1, 1925-September 5, 2019

MADISON, Wis. - Eugene Michael Anthony, 93, passed away on Thursday, September 5, 2019, at his home.

“Gene” was born on October 1, 1925, in Madison to Herman Russell Chidester and Hazel Marie (Connolly) Anthony. As a boy, he enjoyed being on the Anthony farm with his grandparents in Rutland, Wis., and anything mechanical. He was active in Boy Scouts, obtaining Eagle Scout distinction and later becoming a troop Scout leader. Gene was a racing enthusiast — designing, building, and racing soap box derby cars. He raced on oval dirt tracks near Sun Prairie, Wis. In early adulthood, Gene was Secretary/Treasurer and then President of the Wisconsin Roadster Racing Association based in Madison.

Gene served as an Aviation Machinist Mate, 3rd Class, in the U.S. Navy from 1943-1945. He flew reconnaissance over the Atlantic Ocean during the war, looking for vessels from the other countries.

Gene was employed by Celon Company, Madison, as a mechanical engineer. During this time, he built a house in Monona Village for his family with the assistance of his father. Around 1953, Celon Corporation moved to Muscatine, Iowa, after which Celon was purchased by Thatcher Glass Manufacturing, a glass manufacturing company diversifying into plastics. Gene transferred to Muscatine. He retired from Thatcher Plastic Packaging and its derivatives in 1988, after holding the appointments of Chief Mechanical Engineer and Manager of the Mechanical Engineering department. He held a certificate in arc welding, and taught mechanical engineering and arc welding classes at the adult level. Eugene is credited with the following inventions and engineering patents in the plastics industry: 1) 1987 – Container with twist-off, tamper evident, feature: “…an improved plastic container with an integral sealing member extending across the outlet which must be torn away for access to the contents of the container, and therefore provides a visible indication of tampering.” 2) 1974 – Linerless closure: “…a closure which will reseal the plastic container through repeated usages and one in which little deformation of the ribs is required to effect a good seal.”

Gene started the entrepreneurial business ComTrac, which designed and built compact tractors and accessories for the lawn and garden industries. In the tradition of his ancestors, he loved working the land. He used his own designed and modified tractors to till his small farmland and gardens. He was an avid small acre and container farmer, growing many of the vegetables that his family consumed throughout the year.

Gene's other interests included steam locomotives, trains, automobile design, and jazz. He researched, designed, and built his own HO model railroad layout with his son, Tom. He and his wife, Jeannie, were members of Iowa Corvair Enthusiasts, and followers of the Midwest TRA Jazz circuit.

He married Bernice Elaine Young of Madison in Rockford, Ill., in 1948, and they later divorced. He married Eleanor (Mary) Jean “Jeannie” (Lowe then Woodhull then Betz) of Muscatine in 1966.

Gene was very interested in genealogy and worked with his father and his wife, Jeannie, to successfully research the vast Anthony family genealogical history. He did this through manual research, without the help of online resources. He is credited with doing extensive research in 1999 with his daughter, Carol, to reunite his wife, Jeannie, and her sister Shirley Richards, after 70 years of separation due to adoption of each to separate families in different states.

Eugene was a man of integrity and loyalty. He was generous with his family and carried out focused planning to ensure affairs, events, and projects were well executed and not last minute. Practical and persistent, his decisions were well-informed through research and resourcefulness. His professional and personal endeavors proved his inventiveness, creativity, uniqueness, and ingenuity. Gene was sincere yet witty, and one could always rely on him. Even with these qualities he was self-effacing, never calling attention to himself or the exceptional abilities and talents that he possessed.

Gene was a devoted family man and will be deeply missed. Those left to honor Eugene's memory are three sisters, Marie Philena Raymond of Mount Pleasant, Wis., Elaine Margaret Karls (Paul) of Monroe, Wis., and Mary Margaret Sanchez of Sun Prairie, Wis.; a sister-in-law, Marie Estelle (Diekemper) Anthony of Roseville, Minn.; two sons, Thomas Jerome Anthony (Sue) of Coralville, Iowa, and John Robert Anthony of Keithsburg, Ill.; a stepson, Alan Woodhull Betz (Colleen) of Arvada, Colo.; two daughters, Janice Willits, (James), and Carol Jean Anthony (John Colin Toline) of Bensenville, Ill.; grandchildren, Sean Raymond Doyle (Dawn) of Cumming, Ga., Victoria Baltzell (Tim), Dale Willits (Sharon), Jennifer Sue (Anthony) Haugh (Bradley) of Santiago, Chile, Christian Eugene David Anthony of Columbus, Ohio, and Hunter Robert Alan Anthony of New York; step-grandchildren, Brooke Marin (Betz) Mutzbauer (Adam) of Brighton, Colo., and Ashleigh Jean Betz of Westminster, Colo.; great-grandchildren include John Robert Doyle, Tyler Alexander Doyle, Alyssa Nicole Doyle, Colin Michael Doyle, Alyssa Hoerle, Emily Brewer, Alexandra Baltzell and Kaia Jennifer Haugh; great-great-grandchildren include Eleanor and Jude Hoerle, and Aiden Brewer; step-great-grandchildren include Logan Jacob Mutzbauer, Korbin Everet Mutzbauer, Emerson Grace Manzo and Caysen Quinn Scott Manzo; numerous nieces/nephews from his sister's and brother's families, and numerous nieces/nephews by marriage discovered through the reunion of Jeannie Anthony and her sister Shirley Richards, including Kate Lynn Line (Jack), Terri Strang, and Arthur Schnebly (Carole, deceased).

He was a member of Ss. Mary and Mathias Church, Muscatine.

Eugene is preceded in death by his parents; his wife, Jeannie Anthony in 2013; his brother, Robert Charles Anthony in 2009; and a brother-in-law, Paul Fredrick Raymond in 1974.

Cremation was carried out.

A Catholic Mass will be held at Ss. Mary and Mathias Church, 215 W. 8th Street, Muscatine, at 10 a.m. on Friday, October 25, 2019. A memorial service will be held at Ralph J. Wittich-Riley-Freers Funeral Home at 1931 Houser Street, Muscatine, on Saturday, October 26, 2019. Visitation from 10-11 a.m.; service at 11 a.m. A luncheon will be provided following for all family and friends from 1-3 p.m. across the street from the funeral home at China Garden, 2016 Cedar Plaza Drive, #3, Muscatine.

Interment will be at Rutland Center Cemetery, U.S. Highway 14, Rutland, Wis., on Monday, October 28, 2019, at 1 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be contributed to any of the following:

  • New Melleray Abbey, 6632 Melleray Circle Peosta, IA 52068; www.newmelleray.org
  • Smile Train, 633 Third Avenue, 9th Floor, New York, N.Y. 10017; www.smiletrain.org
  • American Cancer Society, 1717 Ingersoll Avenue, Ste. 1112, Des Moines, IA 50309; www.cancer.org

Online condolences: www.wittichfuneralhome.com.

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