Long time Whidbey Island resident, Gene Delbert Loper, 86, died at his daughter’s home in Snohomish, Washington, on January 7, 2023, with many family members by his side. Born in Olympia, Washington on December 6, 1936 to Forest Elmer and Anna Belle (Ulery) Loper.
Gene shared so many memories from his younger years, his time spent at Southbay Grade School, his horse, Ranger, adventures and chores with his brothers, cooking and canning with his Mom, working at the mushroom farm and lessons and wisdom from his Dad. Gene chose a military career and enlisted in the US Navy on November 16, 1954, at the age of 17. Gene’s Navy career as an Aviation Structural Mechanic, Hydraulics included duty stations and training in Beeville, Texas, North Island, California, Quonset Point, Rhode Island, Whidbey Island Naval Air Station, Washington and USS Enterprise. In 1959, Gene volunteered and was ultimately selected for VX-6, Operation Deep Freeze based at Quonset Point, Rhode Island, which included wintering over in Antarctica in 1960 – 61. Gene would return to Quonset Point and VX- 6 in 1965 – 68. The squadron deployed again to Antarctica and Christchurch, New Zealand as the summer support crew. Gene returned to his home state of Washington and Whidbey Island Naval Air Station many times throughout his Navy career attached to VA 128, VAQ 133, VAQ 129 and the USS Enterprise, and ultimately, becoming a command career counselor for the USS Enterprise. Gene retired May 31, 1980, after 25 years, 7 1⁄2 months. His retirement ceremony took place aboard the USS Missouri in Bremerton, Washington.
In 1963, while on an assignment for the Navy in Moses Lake, WA Gene met a beautiful young English woman, Margaret, with two little girls. After a short courtship they married at the Methodist Church in Oak Harbor, Washington. Over their 57 years of marriage they traveled the world together and enjoyed meeting new friends and exploring many exotic places. They regularly shared stories of their adventures, experiences and treasured friends they met during their travels. But Oak Harbor was always their home base. After retirement from the Navy, Gene did not hesitate in starting a new company and a new career, that of building commercial greenhouses. For the next 38 years, he contracted, built and consulted on commercial green houses with repeated trips to China, India, Thailand, Taiwan, Saudi Arabia, Canada, Oregon, Washington, California, Montana, New Mexico, Idaho and Hawaii, culminating with spending his 80th birthday consulting on a project in Egypt. Many of Gene’s greenhouse contracts were spent in partnership with Donn Sharp, CEO of U.S. Global Resources.
Gene was the youngest of six children. His parents and siblings have all preceded him in death. Gene is survived by his two daughters, Dianne (Cunningham) and Tom (deceased) Batz of Anacortes, Joanne (Cunningham) and John Parmley of Snohomish, grandsons, Michael Batz, Steven Batz, Patrick Batz, Simon Parmley and Ian Parmley. Nephews Edward Loper of Olympia, WA, Michael (and Alice) Whitaker of Ellensburg, WA, Nieces Sherry (and Leonard) English of Lynden, WA and Christina (and Brian) Rolfe of Chehalis, WA. Three great granddaughters, two great grandsons, and many treasured friends.
Memorial Services will take place at Wallin/Stucky Funeral Home in Oak Harbor, Washington, February 11, 2023, at 12:00 pm. Following the service, burial will take place next door at the Maple Leaf Cemetery. A reception will be held at Wallin/Stucky Funeral Home between 2:00 to 4:00 pm. In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorials be made to Hospice of the Northwest, 227 Freeway Drive, Unit A, Mount Vernon, Washington 98273, the Oak Harbor Elks Club Scholarship Fund or your favorite charity in Gene’s name.