age 85, formerly of St. Louis, passed away August 16 in Chicago, Illinois. Devoted husband of 63 years to Mary (nee Martens). Dear father of Gene, Jr. (Jane) Schmittgens, Dan (Judy) Schmittgens, Terry (Neal Podell, dec.) Schmittgens, Linda (Mike) Lonergan, Mary (Dan) Lindberg, Rene (Graham) Swidenbank, David (Kim Ataide) Schmittgens, and Beth (Chuck) Palid. Loving grandfather to Daniel (Christie), Claire (Dave), Eric (Andrea), Rob (Teresa), Christine (dec.), Jake, Caroline, Nick, Jeff, Miriam (Jan), Andrew, Annie (AJ), Helen, Jason, Matthew, Graham, Zac, Lucy, Ben, Mary, Owen, and Henry. The son of Joseph and Helen Schmittgens, Gene was preceded in death by his brother Joe (Joyce), Leo (Mary Carol), Jack (Dodie, dec.), and Helen Schmittgens Richter (Harold, dec.). He is survived by his sisters Mary Agnes (Jack, dec.) Pudlowski, Annette (Ron) Wucher, Katherine Elz (Jule, dec.), Joanne Schlenk (Roy, dec.), and Claudine Wucher (Dave).
Like his father and grandfather before him, Gene spent his career in the railroad and transportation industry, beginning with Western Pacific Railroad in St. Louis, as a representative for Shippers Dispatch in Illinois, and then his own company, New Era Transportation--work he continued until his death. His career in transportation led to his decades-long memebership in the Traffic Club of Chicago. A proud and long-time resident of Park Forest, Illinois, Gene was an active member of the St. Irenaeus parish as a lector, SPREAD program volunteer, leader of the high school religious education program, and the liturgy team. Last spring, Gene was inducted with his wife into the Park Forest Historical Society Hall of Fame, the result of their involvement with his numerous activities within the community. He served as a docent and board director for the Tall Grass Arts Association, coached baseball, chaperoned school trips, and volunteered at PADS, a local overnight shelter.
A 1952 graduate of St. Mary’s High School in St. Louis, Missouri, Gene was a lifelong learner, with interests that spanned art, music, history, gardening, birding, and politics. He remained loyal to his St. Louis roots and the Cardinals, and he enjoyed travel, particularly a recent trip to his ancestral home in Elspe, Germany to connect with his relatives. His greatest achievements centered around his family and his devotion to his loving wife, children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews, siblings, and an extended procession of individuals who considered him their surrogate father. He opened his doors to friends and family near and far and will be remembered for his abiding faith, quick wit, hearty laugh, elegance, and relentless kindness. He leaves behind legions of admirers.
Visitation will be held at Lain-Sullivan Funeral Home, 50 Westwood Drive on Wednesday, August 21 from 3-8 pm. Funeral Thursday 9:00 a.m. from the the Funeral Home to St. Irenaeus Church, mass 10:00 a.m. 207 S. Orchard Drive, Park Forest, Illinois. Interment Private. In lieu of flowers, please consider memorials to St. Mary’s High School in St. Louis, Missouri, the Park Forest Historical Society, or the Tall Grass Arts Association.