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Eugene ‘Gene’ Lee Kunkel, 85, West Liberty
Obituaries · January 26, 2017



Eugene “Gene” Lee Kunkel, 85, of West Liberty, Iowa, died peacefully on Thursday, Jan. 19, 2017, at The Bird House/Hospice Home of Johnson County in Iowa City.

Funeral service were Monday, Jan. 23, 2017, at St. Joseph Catholic Church in West Liberty. Visitation was Sunday at the Henderson-Barker Funeral Home in West Liberty. Burial was in the Mt. Calvary Cemetery in West Liberty. Online condolences may be made to the family at www.hendersonbarkerfuneralhome.com. Memorials may be made to The Bird House/Hospice Home of Johnson County.

Gene was born Feb. 13, 1931, in Yates Center, Kan., to Frank and Belva (Murphy) Kunkel and grew up on the family farm. At the age of 15 he came to Iowa to live with his extended family and continued farming before joining the U.S. Marine Corps in 1951. In 1952, he married Margaret Cassabaum and started a family. During the Korean War, Gene remained stateside and served as an auto mechanics instructor; he was also awarded the National Defense Service Medal. Gene was honorably discharged in 1954 and returned to Iowa where he eventually started his career as a mechanic. Gene and Margaret later moved to a farm in rural Solon and raised six children; they later divorced. Gene married Brenda Jackson in 1973 and they moved to Downey, where they raised their son Brad; they later divorced. Gene married in 1994 Dorothy Hobbs of West Liberty, where they have lived ever since.

Gene operated AAMCO Transmissions in Iowa City for many years; he also worked for Peterson Contractors Inc. and was the manager at Hobbs Feather Company. He also served as an Auxiliary Police Officer with the Coralville Police Department.

Gene had a love for music; he was a talented fiddle player and enjoyed playing for a crowd whether in a jam session at The Mill or at the annual Fiddlers’ Picnic. He also had a love for the outdoors — he enjoyed hunting deer in Iowa, quail in Kansas, fishing for walleye in Canada and salmon in Lake Michigan.

Gene always had a story, anecdote or joke for any occasion and late in life he promised himself that he would make someone laugh every day. Gene kept this promise until his final days. He had an endless supply of one-liners, blue jokes, greetings and goodbyes that left everyone with a smile. He loved being around people and his laugh could fill a room. He could not contain the pride he had for his children.

Gene is survived by wife Dorothy Hobbs Kunkel of West Liberty; sons: Greg (Virginia) of Solon, Duane (Connie) of Solon, Mitch (Ann) of Solon, Rodney (Rita) of Savage, Minn., Brian (Laurie) of Cave Creek, Ariz., and Brad (Julie) of Solon; stepchildren: Teresa Ford of Tipton, Kathy Bader of Williamsville, NY, Jennifer Hobbs of Davenport, John Hobbs of Golden, Colo., and David Hobbs of Williamsville, NY.; 21 grandchildren; 22 great-grandchildren; seven stepgrandchildren and a step-great-granddaughter to be born in May 2017. Also surviving are two sisters: Donna Culver of Iola, Kan., and Lila Morrow of Ft. Smith, Ark.; and brother Ken Kunkel of Haymarket, Va.

Gene was preceded in death by his parents, sister Shirley, and daughter Marjeane Easley.

Gene was full of his own sayings. To those who knew him: See you in the spring!

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