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gene-geymanOur beloved Gene Geyman passed away peacefully at the Whatcom Hospice House in Bellingham on Sunday, March 25, 2012 after a 15-year struggle with Alzheimer’s disease. She was surrounded by family as she passed.

Her kind and generous spirit will be missed by all who were fortunate enough to know her. She was courageous to the end as she dealt bravely and with graceful dignity as her cruel and relentless disease progressed.

Gene was born in Atlanta, Georgia, on February 9, 1935 (the same day as my birthday four years earlier!) to Clark and Emogene Deichler. Her father was a civil engineer during the Great Depression, moving as needed to support the family. Gene attended some ten schools before graduating from high school, always adapting well with her outgoing and positive nature. The family moved to the Bay Area in California soon after the outbreak of World War II, when her father deployed to the South Pacific as Commander of a Naval Construction Battalion (Seabees) building airstrips. He was killed on Okinawa just two months before the end of the war.

After her mother remarried two years later, the family moved to Ross, Marin County, California, where she completed high school. She graduated in 1956 from the University of California at Berkeley, with a major in English and a minor in Art. We were married the same month. She completed her teaching certificate the following year, while I entered medical school at the University of California.

Over our 56 years of marriage, Gene maintained her buoyant approach to life while we raised our three sons, even as we moved more than ten times to places of my medical training, practice and teaching. She was a loving and cherished wife, mother, and friend, a gifted schoolteacher and puppeteer, and author of an excellent book Ghost Pilot. We moved part-time to San Juan Island in 1987, then full-time in 1990. Here on the Island, she contributed in many ways to the community, whether with the San Juan Library, the Garden Club, as an EMT, or as a giving and caring friend to many. She remained a loving parent, grandparent and support to me to the end despite her advancing disease.

Gene is survived by her husband (me), Clark Deichler (brother) (Anne) of Ross and Friday Harbor, Allan Breslin (brother) (Eileen) of Covington, LA, sons Matt Geyman of Seattle (Amy), Cal Geyman in Denver (Lisa), and Sabin Geyman, Mount Vernon, and four grandchildren: Ben, Emily, Will and Laura.

A memorial service and celebration of life will be held at the Friday Harbor Presbyterian Church on Saturday, April 28th at 1 p.m. In lieu of flowers contributions may be made in Gene’s memory to the Whatcom Hospice House, the San Juan Island EMT Association, or the Friday Harbor Presbyterian Church.

- John Geyman, M.D.

Last modified onMonday, 02 April 2012 07:02