Gene Hart
   Born December 22, 1937
   Death November 14, 2017
 
Eugene "Gene" Wesley Hart, beloved father, grandfather, and friend passed away the evening of Tuesday, November 14, 2017 at the age of 79.  He was born in Visalia, CA, the youngest child of Weston Conlee Hart and Helen Vivian Hart.

He was preceded in death by his parents and his sister, Mary Lou Bates.  He is survived by his two brothers David and Dale, his wife Marcilyn, their six children, Janice Duncan, Laura Dupree, Wesley Hart, Ruth Justice, Charles Hart, Vivian Kahlenberg, and many devoted nieces, nephews and grandchildren.

Gene attended Terra Bella Elementary, when in the second grade he met Marcilyn Hart, the girl he would one day marry.  However, he didn't know she was "the one for him" until a few years after graduating from Porterville Unified High School.

His teen years were spent exploring the surrounding mountains and foothills with his close friends to the tedium of classroom studies and farm labor.  Immediately after graduating, he began to travel the world - making it as far as Alaska and working in a logging camp setting chokers near Ketchikan before returning to his family's home in Terra Bella to settle down.

December 27, 1957, Gene and Marcilyn Mae Biggerstaff were wed.  Together they raised their six children.  Gene worked hard at a number of jobs to support his family.  Twelve years operating Harts's Hatchery on his parent's farm, and 50 years as a heavy equipment operator for various companies in Tulare County.  Gene spent most of his life in the San Joaquin Valley, residing in Bakersfield and Terra Bella. 

He was an outdoorsman and farmer at heart, but his faith and his family were most important to him.  When he was not working in construction - he spent much of his free time helping family and friends, by growing fruits and vegetables and fixing things.  He dedicated a lot of time to calling up people he knew were sick or lonely - encouraging them to feel better.

The final year of his own life was a hard one - battling cancer with friends and family constantly by his side.  Early in his illness he often said, "I feel like the wreck of Hesperus," but later he would say, "I love you" and "thank you."  At the end, his biggest regret was not being able to walk out to the barn one last time.

(Information for this writing is from Emily Dupree - a granddaughter)
 

 

     
           
 

Memories of Uncle Gene and Aunt Marcie have been part of me for as long as I can remember. They were always more like an extended part of our family. Uncle Gene was a quiet man. I rarely saw him angry, but even then he kept his anger quiet and controlled. Perhaps "anger" would be the wrong choice of words. . . perhaps a firm strictness which "good" fathers use in discipline. This discipline is given out of love because of wanting to bring good and respectable children into the world - preparing them to be responsible and trustworthy adults when they are on their own.

Uncle Gene did this. My six siblings and myself had the opportunity to grow up along side our cousins - thirteen kids running around outside together. I felt as if they were more like brothers and sisters to spend time with. Uncle Gene and Aunt Marcie were like a second set of parents whom my Father expected us to respect. All those years I grew up loving my Aunt and Uncle in that respect - as another set of "parents" in my own mind.

I remember gatherings out in Terra Bella among the acres of orange trees. We never played with manufactured toys. I would imagine with that many mouths to feed - food was the first concern. We never felt deprived. We had imaginations capable of discovering a vast variety of games to fill our days. Actually, I felt very rich. . . we had these grown ups in our lives that worked hard to teach us, love us and protect us.

Uncle Gene and my Dad would sometimes barbeque - Aunt Marcie and Mom would be busy making other yummies to go along with whatever was being grilled. I remember chicken once. My Mom liked the chicken breasts, and I never really understood why. Janice, Laura and myself were talking over this preference. I was always given, a thigh, and wings at times. The legs were easy for the younger ones to hold on to and chew on. Janice pointed out that the dark meat had more veins in them. . . pointing that out - never left my mind. Thanks to the wisdom of my cousin Janice, I - like my Mother only likes the white meat.

As we grew older Aunt Marcie allowed us to help with preparing meals. These are some of my fondest memories. Uncle Gene would often be out working - there was always something needing to be done on their farm. He always came in at the end of the day sitting with us at dinner time - blessing the food we were given before eating. I loved this routine. After dinner Aunt Marcie and Mom would do "mom" things and talk. Uncle Gene and my Dad would sit and talk. . . I can remember so clearly their laughs. I suppose I was too young to really be concerned with their actual conversations. I do remember the love of both of our fathers. Pride and trust in their faces because they knew they were doing their best to raise "good" kids. Their laugh. . . I loved those big, hearty laughs.

I seem to remember Uncle Gene always sitting in the same chair during these talks with my father. . . his hands always politely folded in his lap. He always had a friendly, welcoming smile.

As I grew up over the years becoming a teenager. . . one of my fondest memories was when our cousins all came together. . . even our cousins from Massachusetts came out. It was fun, and also funny learning the different ways we grew up. Our Eastern cousins had never seen chickens lay eggs. . . they expected to see hens sitting on stacks of eggs as portrayed in the cartoons. So our very imaginative cousins, Kevin and Jon decided we needed to take them snipe hunting. We (those of us knowing snipe are not real) joined in - making elaborate plans. Our cousins were so excited to be taken on this hunt. Patty even ended her letter to her friend back home - that she had to end her letter because she was going to hunt some "snipe!"

If I go into details this would become a book - I do have a "Snipe Hunt" essay on that night. It was a perfect night set with a full moon. We told them that the Snipe liked to hide under the orange trees. What I remember most is Uncle Gene and Uncle Bill even got into our little deception. They didn't give us up and even seemed to enjoy adding their advice to the hunt.

Laura wielded some very large forks and some gunny sacks. I still remember Patty's eyes widening as she asked if that is what we used to catch them. Kevin chided in, "We are going to eat them, not make pets out of them!" Our fun continued and I had never laughed so hard.

Over those years, Uncle Gene earned my respect and my love. I was very fortunate to have had him in my life. For now he is at peace and I look forward to the day he is woken up once more. . .and we can welcome him back - happy and healthy - with his wonderful smile shining once more. Until that time. . . I can recall those wonderful years of growing up around him, and I am so grateful for the influence he had on my own life. I will "never" forget him.

 
   

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