Wrangell Sentinel -

Eugene (Gene) Mark Hiebert, 84

 

February 13, 2020

Eugene (Gene) Mark Hiebert passed away in his sleep in Manila, Philippines on January 20, 2020. He was 84 years old. He was born to Leonard and Clara Hiebert on April 18, 1935 in Napa, California. Gene spent his childhood in Napa, learning how to work and live off the land. He was home schooled for much of his childhood. Though not a religious man, he strived to live a good, honest life, to always work hard and not be a burden to anyone.

At age 18, Gene moved to Wrangell to be a logger at his Uncle Art Hiebert's logging camp on Vanks Island. Shortly after that he married a local Alaskan Native/Asian young woman, Marjorie Lauth. They were married for 25 years and had five children. He supported his family by logging and working at the sawmill.

Gene loved Wrangell and had many entertaining stories to tell of the locals. He was a character and they used to have a lot of stories about him, too. It was often said that he was the toughest man in Wrangell! He had many close calls with death.

After a near-death experience, Gene stopped drinking so much, and started organic gardening and raising chickens on the family homestead on the North End. The plants in his garden were so big and beautiful that tourists would stop and take pictures of them. The secret was in his fertile soil cultivated through dedicated composting.

In 1977, the family moved to Sitka because his wife had a job at Mt. Edgecumbe boarding school. Gene worked at the pulp mill.

In 1991, he moved back to Wrangell because his oldest daughter, Marcia, had moved back. Once again, he started working at the sawmill. Eventually he got a job on the ferry where he worked until his retirement.

Over the years, Gene corresponded with penpals in the Philippines. In 2006, he left Wrangell to retire in the Philippines He loved the Filipino people and contributed greatly to local philanthropic charities.

Gene traveled back and forth to Alaska, Oregon, and California to visit his family. He was always a good guest in spite of liking to argue just for the fun of it. He loved to email his kids and sister, Opal. They will all greatly miss those emails.

Gene was preceded in death by a son, Allan and former wife, Marjorie. He is survived by four of his children: Marcia (Greg) Miller of Wasilla, Val (Terry) Hiebert/Delay of Valdez, Theresa (Jay) Spires of Salem, Oregon, Gene(Liz) Hiebert of Salem, Oregon and twelve grandchildren and twelve great-grandchildren. His sister Opal Lemmer of Cupertino, California and brother Dennis of San Diego and nieces and nephews in California.

 

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